What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
Learning everything you can about your diagnosis can help you make informed decisions about your health. Here are some questions you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- Where is the tumor located?
- Has the tumor spread?
- What stage breast cancer do I have?
- What do the estrogen receptor , progesterone receptor and HER2 tests show and what do the results mean for me?
- What are my treatment options?
- Is breast cancer surgery an option for me?
- Will I be able to work while I undergo treatment?
- How long will my treatment last?
- What other resources are available to me?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can feel scary, frustrating and even hopeless. If you or a loved one is facing this disease, its important to take advantage of the many resources available to you. Talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment options. You may even want to get a second opinion before making a decision. You should feel satisfied and optimistic about your treatment plan. Finally, joining a local support group can help with feelings of isolation and allow you to talk with other people who are going through the same thing.
Sudden Change In Breast Size
IBC can change the appearance of the breasts. This change can occur suddenly. Because this cancer can cause inflammation and swelling, breast enlargement or thickness can occur.
The affected breast may appear noticeably larger than the other breast or feel heavy and hard.
If youve always had symmetrical breasts and you notice a sudden increase or decrease in the size of one breast, speak with your doctor to rule out IBC.
diagnostic criteria for IBC include:
- breast redness, swelling, dimpling, or warmth that comes on quickly, with or without a detectable lump or mass
- redness that includes at least a third of the breast
- symptoms that have lasted for no longer than 6 months
- confirmation of the presence of cancer cells through a biopsy
Now lets explore the diagnostic methods that can be used for IBC in a little more detail.
Signs Of Breast Cancer
- Redness. If you notice any redness on the skin of your breasts that lasts for more than a few days, get it checked out.
- Lump in the breast. You may not see a lump, but if you feel a new or changing lump in your breast, its time to talk to you doctor.
- Swelling. Pay attention to any swelling in your breasts that does not go away quickly.
- Lump in armpit. Lumps in your armpit can be a sign of breast cancer, so be aware of any changes here.
- Orange-peel texture. If the texture of the skin on your breast starts to change, it can be a sign of breast cancer. In some cases, breast skin can start to feel bumpy like the texture of an orange.
- Dimpling. Breast skin can also dimple if there is a problem, so if you see signs of this, call your doctor.
Breast cancer can also sometimes show up as changes in the way your nipples look. Here are some signs to watch for:
- Discharge. Nipple discharge should be check out by a doctor.
- Pulling in. Talk to your doctor if your nipple starts to pull in or appear inverted.
- Change in direction. You might notice your nipple starts to change direction. If you see this, get it checked out.
- Ulcer. Nipple changes can appear in the form of an ulcer or sore on the nipple.
- Scaliness. The skin on your nipple might change from being smooth to being scaly or rough.
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Grade Of Breast Cancer
The grade describes the appearance of the cancer cells.
- low grade the cells, although abnormal, appear to be growing slowly
- medium grade the cells look more abnormal than low-grade cells
- high grade the cells look even more abnormal and are more likely to grow quickly
Read further information:
Read further information about secondary breast cancer
What Causes Breast Cancer
Breast cancer develops when abnormal cells in your breast divide and multiply. But experts dont know exactly what causes this process to begin in the first place.
However, research indicates that are several risk factors that may increase your chances of developing breast cancer. These include:
- Age. Being 55 or older increases your risk for breast cancer.
- Sex. Women are much more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
- Family history and genetics. If you have parents, siblings, children or other close relatives whove been diagnosed with breast cancer, youre more likely to develop the disease at some point in your life. About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are due to single abnormal genes that are passed down from parents to children, and that can be discovered by genetic testing.
- Smoking. Tobacco use has been linked to many different types of cancer, including breast cancer.
- Alcohol use. Research indicates that drinking alcohol can increase your risk for certain types of breast cancer.
- Obesity. Having obesity can increase your risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence.
- Radiation exposure. If youve had prior radiation therapy especially to your head, neck or chest youre more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy. People who use hormone replacement therapy have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
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Facts You Should Know About Breast Cancer
What is the medical definition of breast cancer?
- Early stage breast cancer usually doesnt cause any symptoms or signs.
- Sometimes it is possible to feel a lump in the breast, but it is important to remember that most breast lumps are not cancerous .
- Breast cancer is usually not painful.
Is there a cure for breast cancer?
- Treatments are available for breast cancer that include surgery, hormone therapy radiation therapy, and for some types of cancer, chemotherapy.
- The exact type of treatment will depend on the type of breast cancer that is present and certain specific biomarkers that are found in the cancer cells.
- For many common types of breast cancer, survival rates and outcomes are excellent when the cancer is discovered in an early stage.
Who is at risk for breast cancer?
- Although breast cancer can affect anyone, women are at greater risk than men.
- The risk of breast cancer also increases with age.
- People with a personal or family history of breast cancer are also at increased risk.
What If You Find A Lump
First, donât panic. Eighty percent of breast lumps arenât cancerous. They often turn out to be harmless cysts or tissue changes related to your menstrual cycle. But let your doctor know right away if you find anything unusual in your breast. If it is cancer, the earlier itâs found, the better. And if it isnât, testing can give you peace of mind.
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Living With Breast Cancer
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can affect daily life in many ways, depending on what stage it’s at and the treatment you will have.
How people cope with the diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. There are several forms of support available, if you need it.
Forms of support may include:
- family and friends, who can be a powerful support system
- communicating with other people in the same situation
- finding out as much as possible about your condition
- not trying to do too much or overexerting yourself
- making time for yourself
Find out more about living with breast cancer.
What Does It Mean To Be Familiar With Your Breasts
While most medical organizations don’t recommend breast self-exams as part of a cancer detection screening, experts told TODAY that women can still benefit from knowing what their breasts typically look and feel like.
To do that, Dr. Amy Kerger, a radiologist who specializes in breast cancer imaging at the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center, part of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, recommends picking one day a month and doing a brief examination.
“Pick a date, because your breasts change with your hormones,” Kerger said. “And you should do it in the same manner, whether you’re in the shower, lying in bed, sitting up. … All of that changes what you’re feeling and where things are in your breasts, because breasts are mobile. It’s really important that, if you’re going to do something like that, to do it consistently.”
Dr. Judy Song, chief of breast imaging at MedStar Health, added that at different points in your menstrual cycle, you may have more lumps and bumps, so being familiar with those changes can help you understand what’s normal on your chest.
“I would more encourage women to say if something just doesn’t feel right. If a woman is at all concerned, even if it may be nothing … she should always err on the side of caution,” said Dr. Jessica Jones, a breast oncologist at UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas. “It is easier to do a test than find out later.”
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What Is The Prognosis For People With Paget Disease Of The Breast
The prognosis, or outlook, for people with Paget disease of the breast depends on a variety of factors, including the following:
- Whether or not a tumor is present in the affected breast
- If one or more tumors are present in the affected breast, whether those tumors are ductal carcinoma in situ or invasive breast cancer
- If invasive breast cancer is present in the affected breast, the stage of that cancer
The presence of invasive cancer in the affected breast and the spread of cancer to nearby lymph nodes are associated with reduced survival.
According to NCIs Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, the 5-year relative survival for all women in the United States who were diagnosed with Paget disease of the breast between 1988 and 2001 was 82.6 percent. This compares with a 5-year relative survival of 87.1 percent for women diagnosed with any type of breast cancer. For women with both Paget disease of the breast and invasive cancer in the same breast, the 5-year relative survival declined with increasing stage of the cancer .
The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca
At the Breast Cancer Centers at each of our CTCA® hospitals, located across the nation, our cancer experts are devoted to a single missiontreating breast cancer patients with compassion and precision. Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and coordinated by a registered oncology nurse, who helps track the various appointments, follow up on tests and answer questions that come up along the way. Your care team also may include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and a plastic/reconstructive surgeon with advanced training in helping patients restore function and appearance. Fertility preservation and genetic testing are also available for qualifying patients who need them.
Our pathologists and oncologists are experienced and trained in tools designed to diagnose, stage and treat different types of breast cancer, from early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ to complex diseases such as triple-negative and inflammatory breast cancer. As part of our patient-centered care model, which is designed to help you keep strong during treatment, your multidisciplinary care team may recommend various evidence-informed supportive therapies, such as naturopathic support, psychosocial support, nutritional support, physical and occupational therapy and pain management. The entire team works together with a whole-person focus, which is at the heart of our centers dedication to personalized and comprehensive care.
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Money And Financial Support
If you have to reduce or stop work because of your cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.
If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:
- if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carers Allowance
- you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income
Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.
What Increases Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Factors that can elevate risk breast cancer risk include:
- A personal or family history of breast cancer, including DCIS and LCIS
- Inherited genetic predispositions, most commonly with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations
- Elevated lifetime estrogen exposure, including:
- Early onset of menstruation
- Late-onset of menopause
- Older age of first childbirth or never having given birth
- Taking estrogen and progesterone after menopause
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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Pictures And Symptoms
The symptoms of IBC include a breast that:
- Quickly changes appearance
- Looks larger, thicker or heavier
- Feels very warm
- Has skin that looks dimpled or ridged like an orange
- Is tender, aches or feels painful
- Has larger lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone
- Has a flatter nipple or one that is turned inward
Unlike other forms of breast cancer, there is no lump formation with IBC.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Pictures of Different Symptoms
Below are some of the pictures of IBC for reference only, you may not experience them at all. If you find anything abnormal with your breast and are concerned, do not hesitate to visit your doctor.
As these inflammatory breast cancer picture shows, the texture of the breast may change and appear to look dimpled or ridged, like an orange peel. This is referred to as peau dorange, which is French for orange skin and it is caused by cancer cells blocking the lymph vessels beneath the skin, which have formed into ridges or tiny lumps.
One of the first symptoms women experience is the breast appearing to be red, pink or purple. The discoloration may look like bruising that covers one-third or more of the breast. It may also feel warm or be tender.
With IBC, the skin may appear to be splotchy or irritated and there may be bumps present.
Inflammatory breast cancer pictures show the discoloration that can appear.
Who Is Mainly Affected By Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women, second only to skin cancer. Its most likely to affect women over the age of 50.
Though rare, men can also develop breast cancer. Approximately 2,600 men develop male breast cancer every year in the United States, making up less than 1% of all cases.
Transgender women are more likely to develop breast cancer compared to cisgender men. Additionally, transgender men are less likely to develop breast cancer compared to cisgender women.
What age does breast cancer occur?
Breast cancer is most often diagnosed in adults over the age of 50, but it can occur at any age.
What race is most affected by breast cancer?
Overall, women who are non-Hispanic white have a slightly higher chance of developing breast cancer than women of any other race or ethnicity. Women who are non-Hispanic Black are almost as likely as non-Hispanic white women to develop the disease. Statistically, women who are Asian, Hispanic or Native American are the least likely to develop breast cancer.
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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Pictures Early Stages
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When Should Someone Seek Medical Care For Breast Cancer
Breast cancer develops over months or years. Once identified, however, a certain sense of urgency is felt about the treatment because breast cancer is much more difficult to treat as it spreads. You should see your health care provider if you experience any of the following:
- Finding a breast lump
- Finding a lump in your armpit or above your collarbone that does not go away in two weeks or so
- Developing nipple discharge
- Noticing new nipple inversion or skin changes over the breast
Redness or swelling in the breast may suggest an infection of the breast.
- You should see your health care provider within the next 24 hours to begin treatment.
- If you have redness, swelling, or severe pain in the breast and are unable to reach your health care provider, this warrants a trip to the nearest emergency department.
If your mammogram spots an abnormality, you should see your health care provider right away to make a plan for further evaluation.
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What Are The Common Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
The following early signs and symptoms of breast cancer can happen with other conditions that are not cancer related.
- New lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast