Seek Counseling With Someone Experienced In Newly Diagnosed Patients
My husband and I met twice with a counselor it was hugely helpful in getting through the first two months. She helped us understand and accept our feelings and suggested a few coping mechanisms that helped tremendously. My most difficult issue was dealing with the reactions of friends and family. Her advice really helped us through that difficult time. I would recommend to anyone to seek counseling with someone experienced in newly diagnosed patients. Sherriw
Treatments To Reduce Your Risk
If you have a greatly increased risk of developing breast cancer, for example, a BRCA gene carrier, treatment might be available to reduce your risk. This applies to a very small minority of women.
Your level of risk is determined by factors such as your age, your family’s medical history, and the results of genetic tests.
You will usually be referred to a specialist genetics service if it’s thought you have a significantly increased risk of breast cancer. Healthcare professionals working at these services might discuss treatment options with you.
The 2 main treatments are surgery to remove the breasts or medication. These are described in more detail below.
It’s Ok To Scream Cry And Feel Fear Or Sorrow
This will pass. You are not going to die tomorrow, next week or next month. Life will get better, I promise.
In the meantime, a tip: To get you over that hump, ask for whatever chemical help you need. If you’re in pain, get it controlled. Having trouble sleeping? Ask for sleeping pills. Depressed? Get meds.
It’s not necessarily for forever, and there’s no reason to be stoic about anything. pajim
Read Also: Is Breast Cancer Curable In The 3 Stage
Is It Possible To Diagnose Breast Cancer Early
Yes. The most effective way to catch breast cancer while it’s easiest to treat and before it can spread is with regular screening mammograms. For women at average risk of breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends those who are:
- Between 40 to 45 have optional yearly mammograms
- Between 45 to 54 have yearly mammograms
- 55 and older switch to mammograms every other year or, if they prefer, continue to have them yearly
The ACS recommends women at high risk of breast have a mammogram and, in some cases, a breast MRI every year starting at age 30.
Insurance And Scheduling Problems
Some people find that the surgeon they’ve chosen under their insurance company isn’t available for longer than they would like to wait, or that it’s difficult to coordinate a surgeon and plastic surgeon on the same day in a reasonable amount of time. This can be more difficult some places than others. With the larger cancer centers, you may have a coordinator who will assist you in setting up appointments. In the community, you may need to do most of the legwork yourself.
Regardless, it’s important to be your own advocate. If you’re having difficulty, make sure to work with your insurance company. Sometimes they may cover a second or third tier provider if it’s the only option available for scheduling your surgery promptly . With some procedures, prior authorization is needed before scheduling can take place.
There are many breast cancer organizations that can assist you as well as help you make decisions. Support groups and online support communities are also an excellent option when it comes to questions and challenges along the way.
There are many options as well for those who are underinsured or uninsured, but again, it’s usually up to you to do the legwork. Programs such as the SAGE program are available, as well as many other assistance programs that can help with anything from transportation to childcare. Talking to a social worker at your cancer center can be invaluable in learning about your options.
Recommended Reading: Chances Of Getting Breast Cancer Twice
Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
The first symptom of breast cancer that most women notice is a lump or an area of thickened tissue in their breast.
The 1 Photo Going Viral to Help Women Detect Breast with Cancer Picture:
You should see a GP if you notice any of the following:
- A new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
- A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- Change on or around the nipple or discharge of fluid from either of your nipples
- A lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- A change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness
- Orange peel – appearance of the skin caused by unusually enlarged pores.
- A rash, crusting, scaly or itchy skin or redness on or around your nipple
- A change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
- Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
- Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit
Stage Of Breast Cancer
When breast cancer is diagnosed, your doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread, and is used to predict the outlook.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer and include:
- stage 1 the tumour measures less than 2cm and the lymph nodes in the armpit are not affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 2 the tumour measures 2 to 5cm, the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 3 the tumour measures 2 to 5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues, and the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
- stage 4 the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
This is a simplified guide. Each stage is divided into further categories: A, B and C. If you’re not sure what stage you have, talk to your doctor.
Don’t Miss: Why Is Left Breast Cancer More Common
Time To Treatment With Metastatic Breast Cancer
There is little research looking at the optimal time until treatment for metastatic breast cancer, though it appears that waiting more than 12 weeks has been linked with lower survival. In general, however, the goal of treatment with MBC is different than early stage disease. For most people, treatment for early-stage disease is aggressive, with the goal to reduce the risk of recurrence. With MBC, the goal is often to use the least amount of treatment necessary to control the disease.
Mammogram And Breast Ultrasound
If you have symptoms and have been referred to a specialist breast unit by a GP, you’ll probably be invited to have a mammogram, which is an X-ray of your breasts. You may also need an ultrasound scan.
If cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, you may need another mammogram or ultrasound scan.
Your doctor may suggest that you only have a breast ultrasound scan if you’re under the age of 35. This is because younger women have denser breasts, which means a mammogram is not as effective as ultrasound in detecting cancer.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your breasts, showing any lumps or abnormalities.
Your breast specialist may also suggest a breast ultrasound if they need to know whether a lump in your breast is solid or contains liquid.
Find out more about breast screening.
How A Breast Cancers Stage Is Determined
Your pathology report will include information that is used to calculate the stage of the breast cancer that is, whether it is limited to one area in the breast, or it has spread to healthy tissues inside the breast or to other parts of the body. Your doctor will begin to determine this during surgery to remove the cancer and look at one or more of the underarm lymph nodes, which is where breast cancer tends to travel first. He or she also may order additional blood tests or imaging tests if there is reason to believe the cancer might have spread beyond the breast.
The breast cancer staging system, called the TNM system, is overseen by the American Joint Committee on Cancer . The AJCC is a group of cancer experts who oversee how cancer is classified and communicated. This is to ensure that all doctors and treatment facilities are describing cancer in a uniform way so that the treatment results of all people can be compared and understood.
In the past, stage number was calculated based on just three clinical characteristics, T, N, and M:
- the size of the cancer tumor and whether or not it has grown into nearby tissue
- whether cancer is in the lymph nodes
- whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the breast
Numbers or letters after T, N, and M give more details about each characteristic. Higher numbers mean the cancer is more advanced. Jump to more detailed information about the TNM system.
Jump to a specific breast cancer stage to learn more:
If I Have Chemotherapy Will I Need To Take Other Medications Like Trastuzumab
If your breast cancer is HER2-positive, its recommended that you take trastuzumab for one year, Dr. Abraham says. This ensures that the HER2 growth receptor on any remaining cancer cells stays shut off. Trastuzumab is not chemotherapy. The hair you lost during chemotherapy will regrow and your energy level will improve while youre taking trastuzumab.
You May Like: What Is Stage 3a Breast Cancer
What Is My Her2 Status
HER2 is another type of growth signal receptor which may be present on your breast cancer cells. About 25% of breast cancers are HER2-positive. HER2-positive cancers are a mix of good and bad news.
The bad news is the tumors tend to grow more aggressively than those without the HER2 receptor. The good news is that like ER/PR-positive cancers, medicines can switch the HER2 growth receptor off.
New drugs such as trastuzumab, pertuzumab, T-DM1 and lapatinib are extremely effective at this and have dramatically improved the prognosis for HER2-positive patients, Dr. Abraham says. Treatment outcomes are now as good as those with HER2-negative tumors.
But HER2-positive tumors bigger than half a centimeter or that have spread into the lymph nodes may require treatment with chemotherapy and one of the medicines specifically targeting the HER2 receptor, such as trastuzumab.
Learn About Your Treatment Options
Treatments vary a lot depending on the type of breast cancer and on the tumor stage. While surgery is almost always necessary, chemotherapy and radiation may or may not be depending on a number of factors. If you had a mastectomy, for example, you may not need radiation. If you have an estrogen-positive tumor, you may not require chemotherapy. There are so many different combinations of treatments, says Dr. Rosenblatt. Its a very complicated discussion with a team of physicians.
Ask your doctor how your various treatment options change your prognosis and the potential complications or side effects. Its also a good idea to ask about the logistics and timing of the treatment plan, suggests Carlos Barcenas, MD, an oncologist in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. That helps you to plan ahead and organize your work or study schedule and support system accordingly, he says.
Don’t Miss: Does Getting Hit In The Breast Cause Cancer
How To Check Your Breasts
Learning to check your breasts is so important! Checking your breasts should be done at home on a regular basis.
Get to know your breasts
Become familiar with how your breasts look and feel before, during and after your period. After a few months, youll see a pattern of whats normal for you. Similar changes may also happen during menopause or breastfeeding.
Make checking your breasts part of your routine
Choose something you already do on a regular basis like having a shower, getting dressed, listening to a weekly podcast, or even just getting into bed. Then every time you do this activity, check your breasts.
Make a note of what you feel, and each time you check your breasts go back to this and check in case anything feels or looks different this time.
Don’t be afraid if you feel something unusual. Not all lumps are cancerous. In fact, more often than not, theres nothing to worry about but you should not ignore it. Write down your observations and then arrange an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.
Is The Cancer In My Lymph Nodes
Whether your breast cancer has spread to your lymph nodes the filtering mechanisms in your armpits and elsewhere in the body that are part of the immune system is one of the most important predictors of the severity of your disease.
Involvement of the lymph nodes changes the treatment plan, says Dr. Abraham. When breast cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes, we tend to discuss more aggressive treatment options, such as chemotherapy.
Read Also: Is Breast Cancer Curable In The 3 Stage
Breast Cancer Risk Factors You Can Control
- Physical activity. The less you move, the higher your chances.
- Weight and diet. Being overweight after menopause raises your odds.
- Alcohol. Regular drinking — especially more than one drink a day — increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Reproductive history.
- You donât have a full-term pregnancy.
Still, most women who are at high risk for breast cancer donât get it. On the other hand, 75% of women who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors. Learn more about the risk factors for breast cancer.
Reasons To Wait A Short While
While information suggests having surgery within a few weeks and chemotherapy within a month is ideal, there are some very good reasons why you may wish to wait a few days or a few weeks to begin treatment.
Most surgeons and oncologists will reassure you that you have some time, though there are always exceptions to that general rule . Advantages of taking some time include:
Breast Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
Don’t Miss: Did Anne Hathaway Have Breast Cancer
Look Into Fertility Preservation
If youre hoping to get pregnant in the future and are undergoing chemo, ask about fertility preservation options like egg freezing. Chemo can diminish fertility. Its very important to address that prior to starting treatments, says Dr. Rosenblatt, who refers patients to her hospitals fertility center.
Sex Life And Fertility
Breast cancer treatments can have a direct effect on your sex life. In younger women some treatments may also affect being able to get pregnant .
For example, surgery may affect how you think and feel about your body which can affect your sex life. It can take time to adjust to changes to your body. If you have a partner, it can help to talk openly with them about your feelings. If any difficulties do not improve, ask your breast care nurse or doctor for advice.
If you have not been through menopause your doctor or nurse will advise you not to use contraception containing hormones. Women thinking of getting pregnant in the future will usually be advised to wait for 2 years.
If doctors think your treatment may affect your fertility, it may be possible to remove eggs from your ovaries before treatment starts. This may mean you can have fertility treatment in the future.
Fertility issues can hard to cope with. Some women may find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor.
Read Also: Harrington Breast Cancer Center Amarillo Tx
Happiness Will Creep Back In If You Let It
We went home and I mourned myself for 2 weeks and thought hard about a way out of this, but there wasn’t/isn’t. So, I’ve chosen to obsess with diet, exercise, and research. I’ve always eaten well and exercised, or so I thought, but I’m now healthier than ever and have to admit I am happy. I know that sounds strange, but I believe if you are willing, happiness will creep back in if you let it, I promise.
In short, I found obsession with nutrition my thing to occupy myself and it definitely won’t hurt to stay as fit as possible for this SOB called cancer. Thicket
Take Advantage Of Patient Navigators
Though intuition would tell us that people who are insured would experience shorter delays before surgery, that doesn’t appear to be true. A large 2019 study in PLoS One looked at over 1.3 million people to see how time to initial treatment affected survival. In this study, they found that with early stage breast cancer, waiting more than 35 days between diagnosis and surgery reduced survival rates. Surprisingly, uninsured people had faster times to initiation of treatment.
While the reasons weren’t certain, it was thought that perhaps those who were insured lost precious time going through prior authorization procedures for diagnostic tests and treatment. Difficulty navigating the maze of large treatment centers may also be at play, and the authors made mention of recent clinical trials showing patient navigation could have a beneficial effect on assuring timely cancer care.
Also Check: What Does Triple Negative Mean For Breast Cancer