Statistics On Breast Cancer & Pain
A breast tumora hard clump of breast cancer cellsusually doesnât 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.
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.
Symptoms Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
The symptoms of metastatic breast cancer may be different than those of early-stage breast cancer, but not always. Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all.
You should always speak with your doctor if you experience any new signs or symptoms, but here are some of the most common signs that breast cancer has spread:
- Bone pain or bone fractures due to tumor cells spreading to the bones or spinal cord
- Headaches or dizziness when cancer has spread to the brain
- Shortness of breath or chest pain, caused by lung cancer
- Jaundice or stomach swelling
The symptoms of breast cancer metastasis may also vary depending on where in the body the cancer has spread. For example:
- If the breast or chest wall is affected, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
- If the cancer has spread to bones, symptoms may include pain, fractures or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.
- If the cancer has spread to the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain or fatigue.
- If the cancer has spread to the liver, symptoms may include nausea, fatigue, swelling of the feet and hands or yellowing skin.
- If cancer has spread to the central nervous system, which includes the brain or spinal cord, symptoms may include pain, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with and/or movement or seizures.
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Changes To The Skins Texture
Breast cancer can cause changes and inflammation in skin cells that can lead to texture changes. Examples of these texture changes include scaly skin around the nipple and areola, as though the skin is sunburned or extremely dry, and skin thickening in any part of the breast.
These changes may also cause itching, which people often associate with breast cancer, although it is not common.
These skin changes may be symptomatic of a breast cancer type called Pagets disease.
Texture changes can also occur as a result of benign skin conditions, including dermatitis and eczema.
Changes In The Contour Or Texture Of The Skin Over Your Breast
Many women are surprised to learn that breast skin changes can be a sign of something happening beneath the surface. So, keep an eye out for these types of skin changes that could be a sign of breast cancer:
- Dimpling or flat spots on the skin over your breast or nipple
- Peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple or breast skin
- Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange
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What Causes Pain In Breasts
Inflammatory breast cancer often causes pain but its rare, accounting for 1% to 5% of breast cancer cases in the United States. Symptoms of this aggressive disease often come on suddenly and progress rapidly. Inflammatory breast cancer may cause the breast to become: Red or discolored. Swollen or heavy.
What Was Your First Breast Cancer Symptom
Changes in the color of your breasts, such as redness. A rapid change in the shape of your breast or an increase in breast size over a short period. Changes in the way your breasts feel when you touch them they may be hard, tender, or warm to the touch. Flaking or peeling or flaking of the nipple skin.
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How To Check Your Breasts
Theres no special way to check your breasts and you do not need any training.
Checking your breasts is as easy as TLC:
- Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual?
- Look for changes: does anything look different to you?
- Check any new or unusual changes with a GP
Everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes.
Get used to checking regularly and be aware of anything thats new or different for you.
Check your whole breast area, including up to your collarbone and armpits.
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You Have Sore On Your Breast That Won’t Heal
Whether it’s on your breast or on your nipple, a sore that won’t seem to heal is something to pay close attention to. “It may be a sign of Paget’s disease of the breast, a rare form of breast cancer,” says Alvarez. “This disease originates in the nipple. It’s not usually invasive and is most commonly diagnosed in patients in their 70s and 80s.” And for warning signals of other types of serious conditions, check out These Are All of the Cancer Warning Signs Hiding in Plain Sight.
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Underlying Mechanisms Of Fatigue
The etiology of fatigue, whether experienced during initial treatment or during survivorship, is far from being definitively characterized. The underlying mechanisms likely vary from patient to patient and the candidate causes surely co-vary considerably. This variability adds to the complexity of understanding this rather vague, but common and potentially disabling complaint. In addition to the usual suspects, such as dysphoric mood, disrupted sleep, anemia, recent studies have suggested some possible novel mechanisms . Thus, fatigue is multiply determined, with a likely mixture of both biological and psychological underpinnings.3 For example, evidence implicates anemia, ATP, links between the HPA axis, cytokines and circadian rhythms, and vagal afferents.8,9,11,49–52
Because most previous studies of cancer fatigue involved cross-sectional research designs, the direction of causality between these candidate risk factors and the experience of cancer-related fatigue cannot be determined with certainty. Nonetheless, the literature suggests important possible links between fatigue and a wide range of potential underlying mechanisms.
Life With Cancer Depends On The Day
How someone feels physically and emotionally with cancer can vary day to day. It can vary by the hour, and even from one minute to the next.
Feelings are constantly changing. When you ask someone with cancer how they feel they may hesitate. Some of the hesitation may be wondering if they should tell the truth lest they receive a lecture beginning with, you need to stay positive. But another reason for the hesitation could be their mind asking for clarification: Do you mean 11 p.m. last night, 9 a.m. this morning, at noon, or at 2 p.m. this afternoon?
Not only is there a large span of emotions experienced with cancer, but the entire spectrum can occur within a 16-hour day.
Something that can surprise those without cancer is that what we feel does not always correlate strongly with circumstances. Life is like that with cancer. One day you may be feeling joyful despite hearing results of a scan that arent very positive. On another day you may be feeling sadness even though your lab tests look great. Days with major hurdles may seem easy, while smooth flowing days are a struggle. One day you feel capable of conquering anything including cancer, the next day finding a stamp to mail a letter may seem an insurmountable task.
How Much Do Anastrozole And Exemestane Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that both anastrozole and exemestane can lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of the disease.
In one large study, taking anastrozole for five years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 53 percent. In another study, taking exemestane for three years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 65 percent.
The most common side effects seen with anastrazole and exemestane are joint pains, decreased bone density, and symptoms of menopause .
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2018.
What About Other Treatments That I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may want to know more about these kinds of treatments.
Some of them are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help and a few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor before you use anything , whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
Can Exercise Help Reduce My Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer
Exercise is a big part of a healthy lifestyle. It can also be a useful way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer in your postmenopausal years. Women often gain weight and body fat during menopause. People with higher amounts of body fat can be at a higher risk of breast cancer. However, by reducing your body fat through exercise, you may be able to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
The general recommendation for regular exercise is about 150 minutes each week. This would mean that you work out for about 30 minutes, five days each week. However, doubling the amount of weekly exercise to 300 minutes can greatly benefit postmenopausal women. The longer duration of exercise allows for you to burn more fat and improve your heart and lung function.
The type of exercise you do can vary the main goal is get your heart rate up as you exercise. Its recommended that your heart rate is raised about 65 to 75% of your maximum heart rate during exercise. You can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your current age from 220. If you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is 155.
Aerobic exercise is a great way to improve your heart and lung function, as well as burn fat. Some aerobic exercises you can try include:
Remember, there are many benefits to working more exercise into your weekly routine. Some benefits of aerobic exercise can include:
What Causes Cancer Pain
There are a number of different causes of cancer pain. For example, the pain can stem from a tumor itself or the damage that it has caused the surrounding tissue or organs. For example, deep pain can occur in the bones from a tumor placing pressure on the bone, and burning pain can occur when a tumor presses against a nerve.
There is also discomfort and pain associated with many cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. In some cases, the pain you experience is associated with nerve damage. The nerves can be damaged during treatment or from the cancer itself. Additionally, nerves could be signaling the brain that damage is either occurring or could occur. Nerve damage typically cant be reversed and causes chronic pain.
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.
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When To See Your Doctor
Itâs important to talk to your physician if you have breast pain from any cause. Even if itâs 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.
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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.
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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 cancerâs 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
- Other health problems you have
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it
What Do Lumps In My Breast Mean
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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Are There Early Signs Of Breast Cancer
As with other types of cancer, breast cancer is most responsive to treatment when diagnosed in its early stages. Breast cancer does not usually cause symptoms in its early stages, but it may cause signs that every woman should be aware of.
The first thing you should know about the early signs of breast cancer is that they can vary from person to person, so something that could indicate breast cancer in one person may not be a sign of cancer in another. The signs and symptoms may also vary between the different types of breast cancer. Also, some people do not experience any signs of breast cancer when the condition is in its early stages.
Because breast cancer does not cause many physical symptoms in its early stages, mammograms are the number one way to detect the condition. Having a mammogram can also provide answers, so you dont have to guess about the significance of any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing.