Pain: Obvious Symptom That Cancer Can Cause
Pain is an indicator of something being wrong with the usual cause being an injury or an illness. In either case, the nervous system notifies the brain of a problem by sending a pain signal through the nerves. When the signal is received, the pain is felt. Every kind of pain is transmitted in the same manner, including pain due to cancer. As not every type of cancer causes similar pain, the type of pain you feel can give an indication about a broad cancer type at least. For instance:
- Deep, aching pain. Deep and aching pain is usually caused by a tumor that is present close to the bones or that grows into the bones. This kind of pain caused by cancer is mostly bone pain.
- Burningpain. Burning pain is caused by tumors that press on parts of nerves. Cancer treatments like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can sometimes damage nerves and give rise to a burning feeling.
- Phantompain. Phantom pain is the sensation of pain in an area where a body part, like a breast or an arm, has been removed. The pain is felt even though there is no body part because of the nerve endings in the region continue to send the pain signals to the brain.
Going into further detail, the region of pain can give a good idea about the type of cancer. For example:
Dont Miss: Who Is At High Risk For Breast Cancer
What Can I Expect At My Doctors Appointment
Make an appointment with your primary care doctor or gynecologist. Tell your doctor about the new spot youve identified and the symptoms you feel. Your doctor will likely conduct a full breast exam and may also check nearby spots, including your collarbone, neck, and armpit areas.
Based on what they feel, your doctor may order additional testing, such as a mammogram, ultrasound, or biopsy.
Your doctor may also suggest a period of watchful waiting. During this time, you and your doctor will continue to monitor the lump for any changes or growth. If theres any growth, your doctor should begin testing to rule out cancer.
Be honest with your doctor about your concerns. If your personal or family history puts you at a higher risk of having breast cancer, you may want to move forward with the appropriate diagnostic testing so you can know for sure if your breast lump is cancer or something else.
Certain risk factors can increase your chances of developing breast cancer. Some risk factors cant be changed; others may be reduced or even eliminated based on your lifestyle choices.
The most significant breast cancer risk factors include:
Nipple Retraction Or Inversion
Breast cancer can cause cell changes behind the nipple. These changes can result in the nipple inverting and reversing inward into the breast, or it may look different in terms of its size.
The appearance of the nipples can often alter during ovulation or other parts of the menstrual cycle, but people should see a doctor about any new nipple changes.
Read Also: What Do Breast Cancer Patients Need
Statistics On Breast Cancer & Pain
A breast tumora hard clump of breast cancer cellsusually doesn’t usually cause breast pain unless it reaches the size of two centimeters in diameter or greater. But a tumor can be larger than two centimeters and still not cause pain.
In fact,only about 5% to 15% of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer complain of breast pain. Only 7% of those diagnosed with breast cancer seek a doctor because of breast pain, excluding other symptoms.
How Can You Detect Breast Cancer Early
You can detect breast cancer early by performing breast self-exams, the process of seeing and feeling for any changes in the breast area.
Currently, the American Cancer Society does not recommend breast-self exams as part of routine breast cancer screening because there is little evidence that they are effective in finding breast cancer early in people who also get regular mammograms. However, they do recognize that it can improve breast self-awareness. On the other hand, the American Society of Breast Surgeons still considers breast self-exams essential.
Knowing the normal size, shape, and appearance of your breasts will help you recognize symptoms when they occur, such as:
- Hard breast lumps or thickening that is different from other surrounding breast tissue
- Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple
- Dimpling or pitting of the breast, similar to the skin of an orange
- Skin retraction
- Bloody or clear fluid discharge from the nipple
- An area that is distinctly different from other areas around the breast
- Changes in size, shape, appearance, or feel of the breast or nipple
- A newly inverted nipple
- Peeling, scaling, crusting, or flaking of the areola or the breast
“While non-cancerous lumps are often rubbery and soft that move around like a marble, cancerous lumps tend to be harder and don’t move around as much,” says Abe.”Although most cancers will feel hard and relatively immobile, they don’t all feel that way.”
Here are the major risk factors for breast cancer:
Read Also: How Long Is Chemo Treatment For Breast Cancer
How To Look For Changes
Standing in front of a mirror, a person should look at the overall appearance of the breasts and nipples. Here are some questions to think about while doing so:
- Are they similar in size, shape, and height?
- Is one a different color than the other?
- Are there any visible skin lesions, marks, color changes, or moles?
- Are there any signs of swelling, lumpiness, pitting, or contour changes?
- Are the nipples facing outward or inward?
A person should run through this checklist twice: once with their arms at their sides and once with their arms above their head.
Breasts are rarely identical, but noticing changes can help detect a problem early. Having an idea of the usual size, shape, appearance, and feel of the breasts can help a person be aware of any changes.
Recommended Reading: How Can I Tell If I Have Breast Cancer
When To See Your Doctor
It’s important to talk to your physician if you have breast pain from any cause.;Even if it’s not due to cancer, many women find that breast pain decreases their quality of life. In one study,15% of the women experienced breast pain at some time in their life that interfered with work and family activities. So, make sure to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any suspicious discomfort.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Fish Test For Breast Cancer
‘i Had Fevers And Difficulty Breastfeeding’
I was misdiagnosed with mastitis twice because I had high fevers and trouble breastfeeding. It turned out to be cancer. Tumors were blocking the milk ducts. I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at age 32, five weeks after I had my first child. It didnt look like mastitis at all. So many people told me ‘100% chance’ it is nothing. No one thought of any alternative, however, until multiple courses of treatment failed.
Melissa Thompson, healthcare policy advocate, Stamford, Connecticut
What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Like many conditions, risk factors for breast cancer fall into the categories of things you can control and things that you cannot control. Risk factors affect your chances of getting a disease, but having a risk factor does not mean that you are guaranteed to get a certain disease.
Controllable risk factors for breast cancer
- Alcohol consumption. The risk of breast cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. For instance, women who consume two or three alcoholic beverages daily have an approximately 20% higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who do not drink at all.
- Body weight. Being obese is a risk factor for breast cancer. It is important to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
- Breast implants. Having silicone breast implants and resulting scar tissue make it harder to distinguish problems on regular mammograms. It is best to have a few more images to improve the examination. There is also a rare cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma that is associated with the implants.
- Choosing not to breastfeed. Not breastfeeding can raise the risk.
- Using hormone-based prescriptions. This includes using hormone replacement therapy during menopause for more than five years and taking certain types of birth control pills.
Non-controllable risk factors for breast cancer
Also Check: Can You Get Disability If You Have Breast Cancer
Who Gets Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women other than skin cancer. Increasing age is the most common risk factor for developing breast cancer, with 66% of breast cancer patients being diagnosed after the age of 55.
In the US, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer, and it’s the leading cause of cancer death among women ages 35 to 54. Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers occur in women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease. The majority of breast cancer cases are “sporadic, meaning there is no definitive gene mutation.
‘my Breast Looked A Little Pink’
In the shower one day, I noticed a pale pinkness on my breast just below my nipple area, which looked more like a mild sunburn than a rash. I knew something was off. I had my ob-gyn take a look, and he said he wasnt concerned at all because it was barely noticeable. He suggested my bra fit too snugly, and I needed to go shopping for new bras. So I did just that.
“Over time, that pink area hardened slightly and was sore to the touch. My ob-gyn again said he wasnt concerned. Eventually the pain increased behind my breast in my back. My ob-gyn said that breast cancer does not hurt, so I didnt need to worry about it. He ordered a mammogram to put my mind at ease. The mammogram and all other tests came back normal.
“Weeks went by and my lower back began to hurt. Eventually, after my GP suggested I had arthritis and I went to physical therapy.;I went to see a breast specialist. He told me I had mastitis and gave me antibiotics. That didnt help. Back at the breast surgeon, he sent a picture of my breast to the top surgeon who ordered a diagnostic mammogram, which includes a sonogram and a biopsy. I was diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer in my breast, bones, and liver.
Jennifer Cordts, stay-at-home;mom, Dallas
RELATED: You Found a Lump in Your Breast.;Now What?
You May Like: What Are Signs Of Breast Cancer In Males
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 and 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.
How To Perform A Self
Screening techniques help you and your doctor identify suspicious spots in your breast. A mammogram is a common screening option. A breast self-exam is another.
The self-exam was considered an important part of early breast cancer detection for many decades. Today, however, it may lead to too many unnecessary biopsies and surgical procedures.
Still, your doctor may recommend a self-exam to you. At the very least, the exam can help you familiarize yourself with your breasts appearance, shape, texture, and size. Knowing what your breasts should feel like could help you spot a potential problem more easily.
1) Pick a date. Hormones impact how your breasts feel, so its a good idea to wait a few days after your menstrual cycle ends. If you do not have a period, pick a date on the calendar you can easily remember, such as the first or fifteenth, and schedule your self-exam.
2) Take a look. Remove your top and bra. Stand in front of a mirror. Observe how your breasts look, inspecting them for changes in symmetry, shape, size, or color. Raise both arms, and repeat the visual inspection, noting the changes to your breasts shape and size when your arms are extended.
4) Squeeze your nipple. Gently squeeze on each nipple to see if you have any discharge.
6) Keep a journal. Subtle changes may be hard to detect, but a journal might help you see developments as they occur. Jot down any unusual spots and check them again in a few weeks. If you find any lumps, see your doctor.
You May Like: How Is Radiation Done For Breast Cancer
Previous Breast Cancer Or Lump
You have a higher risk of developing breast cancer again if you’ve previously had breast cancer. The risk is also higher if you’ve had early non-invasive cancer cell changes in breast ducts. This could have been either in your other breast or in the same breast.
A benign breast lump doesn’t mean you have breast cancer.
Certain changes in your breast tissue, such as cells growing abnormally in ducts , or abnormal cells inside your breast lobules , can make getting breast cancer more likely.
How Is Breast Cancer Treated
If the tests find cancer, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to eradicate the breast cancer, to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the breast, as well as to reduce the chance of the cancer traveling to a location outside of the breast. Treatment generally follows within a few weeks after the diagnosis.
The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of lab tests done on the cancer cells, and the stage, or extent, of the disease. Your doctor will usually consider your age and general health as well as your feelings about the treatment options.
Breast cancer treatments are local or systemic. Local treatments are used to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area, such as the breast. Surgery and radiation treatment are local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systemic treatments. A patient may have just one form of treatment or a combination, depending on her individual diagnosis.
You May Like: How To Donate To Breast Cancer Charity
What Does Cancer Feel Like
Cancer remains a difficult disease to diagnose because it is capable of causing so many symptoms. The signs depend on the size and position of the cancer and the extent that it is affecting the tissues or organs. If the cancer metastasizes , its symptoms change and can appear in every region where it has spread. Therefore, knowing the answer to “What does cancer feel like” is better, as the moment you start to have such feelings, you can contact your doctor for early check and diagnosis.
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
You May Like: Is Stage 2 Breast Cancer Bad
Breast Pain And Breast Cancer In Men
As with breast cancer in women, breast cancer in men;is often painless.;That said, it tends to push on nearby structures more rapidly than a tumor would in most women. In addition, hormone-induced breast pain is also, of course, less likely to occur in men. If you are a man experiencing breast pain, play it safe.;Breast cancer can and does occur in men, and though only one in 100 breast cancers occurs in men, that’s still far too frequent.