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How Can I Know If I Have Breast Cancer

What Do Lumps In My Breast Mean

How Did I Know I Had Breast Cancer?

Many conditions can cause lumps in the breast, including cancer. But most breast lumps are caused by other medical conditions. The two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.

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Change In Size Shape Or Feel Of Your Breast

A cancer might cause your breast to look bigger or have a different shape than usual, it might feel different.;

Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender just before their period.;

It can help to be breast aware. This means getting to know the size, shape and feel of your breasts.;

Why Its Important To Catch Cancer Early

For some cancers that are screened for on a regular basis, survival rates tend to be high. Thats because theyre often diagnosed early on, before symptoms develop.

The 5-year survival rate for people with localized breast or prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent. And when diagnosed early, melanoma has about a 99 percent 5-year survival rate.

But catching some cancers early is difficult. There are no regular screening guidelines for some cancers, and symptoms may not show up until the cancer is in its advanced stages.

To help protect yourself from these cancers:

  • Be sure to keep up with your regular blood work and annual physicals.
  • Report any new symptoms to your doctor, even if they seem minor.
  • Talk with your doctor about testing if you have a family history of a particular type of cancer.

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Questions To Ask The Doctor

  • Do you know the stage of the cancer?
  • If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
  • Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
  • Based on the stage of the cancer, how long do you think Ill live?
  • Do you know if my cancer has any of these proteins: estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, or the HER2 protein?
  • What does it mean if my cancer has any of these proteins?
  • What will happen next?

There are many ways to treat breast cancer.

Surgery and radiation are used to treat cancer in a specific part of the body . They do not affect the rest of the body.

Chemotherapy, hormone treatment,;targeted therapy, and immunotherapy drugs go through the whole body. They can reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body.

Doctors often use more than one;treatment for breast cancer. The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:

  • The cancer’s stage and grade
  • If the cancer has specific proteins, like the HER2 protein or hormone receptors
  • The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
  • Your age
  • Other health problems you have
  • Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it

I Told My Boss And Some Coworkers

How to check if you have breast cancer, must try!

Niomi Thompson, a community college administrator in Wichita, KS, is receiving chemotherapy for stage III breast cancer. She chose to disclose her diagnosis at work because she knew she would look different once she started treatment and would have to miss days off work.

The first person I told was my direct supervisor, Thompson says. After about a week, I emailed several close coworkers directly to let them know. He also allowed his supervisor to tell other members of his team so that he would not have to repeat his story over and over again.

He is happy with his decision.

My direct supervisors were incredibly understanding and kind, as were my coworkers and other team members, Thompson says. Im glad I told them because many of them shared their experiences with cancer and it was comforting to hear their stories.

Thompsons coworkers also arranged meals for her chemo days, which helped her family. But not everyone has such a supportive position.

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Is Family History Of Breast Cancer Important

Yes. While only 5-10% of all women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history, it is important to know your family’s history of cancer, if any, both on your mother’s side and your father’s side. Women with at least one close family relative should start a screening program with a breast specialist when they are ten years younger than their relative’s age at diagnosis, but usually not before 20 years old.

How Much Do Tamoxifen And Raloxifene Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer

Multiple studies have shown that both tamoxifen and raloxifene can reduce the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer in healthy postmenopausal women who are at high risk of developing the disease. Tamoxifen lowered the risk by 50 percent. Raloxifene lowered the risk by 38 percent. Overall, the combined results of these studies showed that taking tamoxifen or raloxifene daily for five years reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by at least one-third. In one trial directly comparing tamoxifen with raloxifene, raloxifene was found to be slightly less effective than tamoxifen for preventing breast cancer.

Both tamoxifen and raloxifene have been approved for use to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease. Tamoxifen is approved for use in both premenopausal women and postmenopausal women . Raloxifene is approved for use only in postmenopausal women.

Less common but more serious side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include blood clots to the lungs or legs. Other serious side effects of tamoxifen are an increased risk for cataracts and endometrial cancers. Other common, less serious shared side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.

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Signs Of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Despite initial treatment and success, breast cancer can sometimes come back. This is called recurrence. Recurrence happens when a small number of cells escape the initial treatment.

Symptoms of a recurrence in the same place as the first breast cancer are very similar to symptoms of the first breast cancer. They include:

  • a new breast lump
  • redness or swelling of the breast
  • a new thickening near the mastectomy scar

If breast cancer comes back regionally, it means that the cancer has returned to the lymph nodes or near to the original cancer but not exactly the same place. The symptoms may be slightly different.

Symptoms of a regional recurrence may include:

  • lumps in your lymph nodes or near the collarbone
  • chest pain
  • pain or loss of sensation in your arm or shoulder
  • swelling in your arm on the same side as the original breast cancer

If youve had a mastectomy or other surgery related to breast cancer, you might get lumps or bumps caused by scar tissue in the reconstructed breast. This isnt cancer, but you should let your doctor know about them so they can be monitored.

As with any cancer, early detection and treatment are major factors in determining the outcome. Breast cancer is easily treated and usually curable when detected in the earliest of stages.

The best way to fight breast cancer is early detection. Talk with your doctor about when you should start scheduling regular mammograms.

Tests At The Breast Cancer Clinic

I Have Cancer…

If you have suspected breast cancer you’ll be referred to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This referral will be because of your symptoms or because your mammogram has shown an abnormality,

Mammogram and breast ultrasound

If you have symptoms and have been referred to a specialist breast unit by your GP, you’ll probably be invited to have a mammogram if you are over 35 years old. This is an X-ray of your breasts. You may also need an ultrasound scan.

If your cancer was detected through the BreastCheck screening programme, you may need another mammogram or ultrasound scan.

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your breasts. It helps to determine the nature of a lump or of the abnormality. It may be needed to find out if a lump in your breast is solid or contains liquid.

Your breasts are made up of thousands of tiny glands that produce milk. This glandular tissue contains a higher concentration of breast cells than other breast tissue, making it denser.

Dense breast tissue can make a mammogram difficult to read. Lumps or areas of abnormal tissue are harder to spot.

Younger women tend to have denser breasts. This is why mammography is not routinely performed in women under 35 years. As you get older, the amount of glandular tissue in your breasts decreases and is replaced by fat. This means your breasts become less dense.

Biopsy

Also Check: How Will I Know If I Have Breast Cancer

What Are The Symptoms Of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include swelling and redness that affect a third or more of the breast. The skin of the breast may also appear pink, reddish purple, or bruised. In addition, the skin may have ridges or appear pitted, like the skin of an orange . These symptoms are caused by the buildup of fluid in the skin of the breast. This fluid buildup occurs because cancer cells have blocked lymph vessels in the skin, preventing the normal flow of lymph through the tissue. Sometimes the breast may contain a solid tumor that can be felt during a physical exam, but more often a tumor cannot be felt.

Other symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include a rapid increase in breast size; sensations of heaviness, burning, or tenderness in the breast; or a nipple that is inverted . Swollen lymph nodes may also be present under the arm, near the collarbone, or both.

It is important to note that these symptoms may also be signs of other diseases or conditions, such as an infection, injury, or another type of breast cancer that is locally advanced. For this reason, women with inflammatory breast cancer often have a delayed diagnosis of their disease.

I Didnt Tell Anyone At Work

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015 and I kept it pretty cool, says Daphne Ortiz, publicist and owner of a small public relations company in Chicago called Statement PR.

Ortiz decided not to share his diagnosis with anyone at work. I didnt want them to be worried and I didnt want them to think I wasnt on top of my game, she says.

He didnt even tell his customers.

I didnt want them to think I was so addicted to having cancer that I couldnt pay attention to their account, Ortiz says. In my business, if you cant get the job done, there are many other great evangelists who can.

Keeping things private helped him personally as well.

Work was a good place for me to focus and take myself out of the fear of living with cancer, Ortiz says.

He told close friends in other parts of his life. just not at work.

I needed good energy in people to go on this journey, she says. By keeping it private at work, he did not face any kind of discomfort.

Six years later, she says it was the right decision for her.

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How Breast Cancer Spreads

Breast cancer can spread to other regions of the body in a few primary ways:

When breast cancer spreads to another organ it is still breast cancer. For example, if breast cancer were to spread to the lungs it would not be called lung cancer. Instead, we’d refer to it as breast cancer spread to the lungs or breast cancer with lung metastases. If you were to look at the cancer cells in the lungs under the microscope they would be cancerous breast cells, not cancerous lung cells.

Cancers that have spread to other tissues may be different than the original tumor, and this is another area of confusion. Cancers aren’t just a clone of abnormal cells that propagate mindlessly. Rather, they are continually changing and developing new mutations. For this reason, a tumor that was estrogen receptor positive when found in the breast may now be estrogen receptor negative. HER2 status may change as well. This also explains why metastatic tumors are sometimes more aggressive than the original tumor.

Questions I Wish I Had Asked My Doctor About Breast Cancer

How Do I know If I Have Breast Cancer?

Its common to have many questions after a new diagnosis. The BC Healthline community gets it.

Finding out that you have breast cancer can feel overwhelming even earth-shattering. Its entirely expected that you would have many questions about how your life is going to change, what your treatment is going to look like, and what the next steps are.

Other questions can be harder to get an answer to, like Hows this diagnosis going to affect me emotionally? or How will my body react to treatment?

Some questions may not have an answer at all, like Why is this happening to me?

Sometimes it can feel as though theres so much new uncertainty that you dont even know where to start, or what questions you should be asking.

The BC Healthline community knows exactly what its like to navigate a new breast cancer diagnosis. Five community members shared the questions they feel are most important to ask your doctor about.

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What To Do If You Have Breast Cancer

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can feel crippling and life-altering for both patients and their families. With 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, it’s unfortunately a common diagnosis to face. For many women diagnosed with breast cancer, what happens next may be a mystery. Taking time to understand the diagnosis and weigh the options is crucial in receiving the necessary treatment.

There Are So Many Conflicting Reports About Breast Self

The American Cancer Society no longer recommends frequent breast self-exams because research has found they don’t provide a clear benefit or save women’s lives. However, it does stress that women should have self-breast awareness “be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.”

“Women should be aware of changes to their breasts such as a palpable mass, skin changes, nipple discharge, skin dimpling, nipple inversion and mass underneath the arms such as enlarged lymph nodes,” Halaharvi stressed. “You dont necessarily need to have a mass to have breast cancer such as inflammatory breast cancer are seen.”

Also Check: What Are Breast Cancer Markers

Further Tests For Breast Cancer

If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and to work out the best method of treatment.;

If;your;cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, you’ll have further tests in the screening centre before being referred for treatment.;

Breast Examination After Treatment For Breast Cancer

How Can I Tell If I Have A Lump During My Breast Self-Exam?

After surgery

The incision line may be thick, raised, red and possibly tender for several months after surgery. Remember to examine the entire incision line.

If there is redness in areas away from the scar, contact your physician. It is not unusual to experience brief discomforts and sensations in the breast or nipple area .

At first, you may not know how to interpret what you feel, but soon you will become familiar with what is now normal for you.

After breast reconstruction

Following breast reconstruction, breast examination for the reconstructed breast is done exactly the same way as for the natural breast. If an implant was used for the reconstruction, press firmly inward at the edges of the implant to feel the ribs beneath. If your own tissue was used for the reconstruction, understand that you may feel some numbness and tightness in your breast. In time, some feeling in your breasts may return.

After radiation therapy

After radiation therapy, you may notice some changes in the breast tissue. The breast may look red or sunburned and may become irritated or inflamed. Once therapy is stopped, the redness will disappear and the breast will become less inflamed or irritated. At times, the skin can become more inflamed for a few days after treatment and then gradually improve after a few weeks. The pores in the skin over the breast also may become larger than usual.

What to do

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How Do I Avoid A Misdiagnosis

Patients should always stay informed about their health and know what age-based screening tests are required, as well as what screenings they should have based on various risk factors. It is also important to be direct with your doctor and communicate any symptoms you may have that could be a sign of breast cancer, and make sure your concerns are taken seriously and addressed.

Signs That Warrant An Immediate Trip To A Doctor

Some common cancer signs that should result in a visit to the emergency room or to a doctor as soon as possible include:

  • coughing up mucus tinged with blood
  • blood in stools or urine
  • lump in the breast, testicles, under the arm, or anywhere that it didnt exist before
  • unexplained but noticeable weight loss
  • severe unexplained pain in the head, neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis

These and other signs and symptoms will be evaluated. Screenings, such as blood and urine tests and imaging tests, will be used if your doctor thinks its appropriate.

These tests are done both to help make a diagnosis as well as rule out various causes of your signs and symptoms.

When seeing a doctor, be prepared to share the following information:

  • your personal medical history, including all symptoms you have experienced, as well as when they began
  • family history of cancer or other chronic conditions
  • list of all medications and supplements you take

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