Undergoing Medical Screening For Breast Cancer
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.
What To Say To Someone With Breast Cancer
CaringBridge Staff | 05.26.22
Finding out someone has been diagnosed with breast cancer can be a shock. Its normal to feel like a deer-in-the-headlights and stumble over the right ways to show support when someone is dealing with a serious illness. You might struggle with finding the right words to say or fret over how to be helpful.
Fortunately, our amazing CaringBridge community shared their ideas of what to say to someone with breast cancer. Not only will these ideas help you navigate the situation more seamlessly, but theyll help your loved one feel uplifted during a difficult time.
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How Were You Informed You Have Cancer
I ask this question as I found out that I had cancer when I opened a letter from the hospital while drinking my morning coffee. The news took some digesting and I was unable to tell anyone till my partner got home from work. I am told this is unusual but I have since heard that others have beed told over the phone or called in to see their doctor or asked to come into hospital to discuss the results of their tests. So how did you receive the news that you have cancer?
I saw my GP on the Monday and he faxed a referral through to the breast clinic. I was asked to attend the clinic on the Wednesday and was told by the consultant/surgeon on that day that he was 99% sure I had breast cancer and took a biopsy for confirmation. He phoned me on the Friday with the news that he was now 100% sure. x
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Youre Experiencing Abnormal Discharge
While nipple discharge from breast milk is totally normal, if youre noticing discharge thats clear or bloody, thats something you should get checked out since it could be a sign of breast cancer, says the National Breast Cancer Foundation. If you have discharge thats milky, it could be something else, like hormonal changes or certain medication use.
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‘my Dog Found My Cancer’
I had just been to the ob-gyn for my annual check-up and breast exam, and got the ‘all okay.’ Soon after, my little dog Zoe climbed up on me and started pawing at a specific part of my breast. Little alarms went off in my head, telling me to pay attention. It was like a slow-motion movie. I pushed her off and thats when I found a little round BB-sized lump. After a mammogram that didnt show anything, and a sonogram that found the lump, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Its so important to listen to the messages our bodies are telling us.
Christine Egan, author of The Healthy Girls Guide to Breast Cancer, Bayport, New York
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How Do I Know If Medical Malpractice Is To Blame For My Misdiagnosis
If you think your breast cancer was misdiagnosed as a result of malpractice, consider scheduling a free consultation with a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice cases. They should be able to determine if you are qualified and can give you more information about the process based on your individual case.
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Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Stage 4 breast cancer can have a tumor of any size, and its cancer cells have spread to nearby and distant lymph nodes as well as distant organs.
The testing your doctor does will determine the stage of your breast cancer, which will affect your treatment.
Although they generally have less of it, men have breast tissue just like women do. Men can develop breast cancer too, but its much rarer.
According to the ACS , breast cancer is 100 times less common in white men than in white women. Its 70 times less common in black men than in black women.
That said, the breast cancer that men develop is just as serious as the breast cancer women are diagnosed with. It also has the same symptoms.
‘it Felt Like There Was A Marble In My Breast’
I had fibrous breasts, so even on a good day, my breasts felt like a bag of frozen peas. I had been receiving Bright Pinks Breast Health reminder texts to check my breasts, so I was pretty familiar with how my breasts felt. However one day I felt a lump in my left breast near my nipple, which seemed to be the size of a marble or gumball. This lump felt different. It was hard, but had a bit of a give to it.
“From the moment I felt the lump, I knew I had breast cancer. I went in that day for an appointment with my gynecologist, who ordered a mammogram for later that afternoon. After that, I had a core needle biopsy, but the tests all came back negative. I never felt relieved or satisfied with that result.
“At a later breast check, I felt the lump had grown, so I insisted my gynecologist help me find a surgeon to remove the lump. It was removed and I was told it was stage 2, aggressive triple negative breast cancer. I also discovered I was BRCA-1 positive, meaning I had the breast cancer gene. I cant stress it enough, listen to your body!
Erin Scheithe, DC Education Ambassador for Bright Pink, Washington, D.C.
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What Can You Do To Prevent Breast Cancer
Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but there are ways you can achieve an overall healthy lifestyle in mind, body and spirit to decrease your breast cancer risk factors.
- Eat balanced meals with many fruits and vegetables
- Drink plenty of water
- Support bone health through physical activity and appropriate intake of vitamin D and calcium
- Limit your alcohol use to no more than one glass a day
- Get enough rest
When Should I See A Doctor
It is important to remember that most breast changes are not caused by cancer, and the signs and symptoms can be caused by other medical conditions. However, if you have noticed any symptoms or changes in your breasts, it is important that you see your doctor without delay so that the changes can be checked. This may include a physical examination or imaging of your breasts. Early detection gives the best possible chance of survival if you are diagnosed with breast cancer.
It is important to remember that breast awareness does not replace having regular mammograms and other screening tests as recommended by your doctor. Some people diagnosed with breast cancer have signs or symptoms. However, some women have no signs/symptoms and the breast cancer is found during a screening mammogram.
In order to detect breast cancer early, it is recommended that all women between 50-74 years attend regular screening mammograms every two years. These are offered for free by BreastScreen Australia. Women aged 40-49 and 75 years and older are also eligible for free mammograms if they choose to attend. In deciding whether to attend a screening mammogram, women in these age groups can speak with their doctor and should also consider the potential benefits and downsides of screening mammograms for them.
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Tests To Diagnose Metastatic Breast Cancer
If you have any of the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:
- blood tests
- whole-body bone scan, with or without X-rays of specific bones
- MRI of the spine or brain
- CT scan of the chest, abdomen, pelvis, and/or brain
- PET scan
- X-ray or ultrasound of the abdomen or chest
- bronchoscopy if you have a constant cough or trouble breathing
- biopsy of any suspicious area
- a tap, removal of fluid from the area with symptoms to check for cancer cells a pleural tap removes fluid between the lung and chest wall and a spinal tap removes fluid from around the spinal cord
You can read the following pages for information on symptoms of breast cancer metastasis and diagnosis:
Tests At The Breast Cancer Clinic
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.
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Survival Rate With Metastatic Breast Cancer
Many people wonder about the life expectancy for stage 4 breast cancer . Its important to note that everyone is different and survival rates vary widely. There are some people who survive many years and even decades with stage 4 disease. At the same time, its important to understand that stage 4 breast cancer isnt curable.
It can be helpful to look at current statistics and consider the many variables that affect life expectancy. While its important not to raise false hope, it may help to know the reality that there are some long-term survivors.
Some people want to know the statistics, but many dont. If youre living with stage 4 breast cancer, there is absolutely no requirement that you know the prognosis. The information provided here is only for those who truly wish to know what the current research iseven this research has many limitations.
Your Breast Shape Has Changed
There are many different reasons your breasts change their shape over the years, whether it’s due to pregnancy or your age. Be aware of these changes and make sure to bring them up to your doctor, though, because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it could also be a subtle warning sign for breast cancer. And for more helpful information, .
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Signs Of Invasive Breast Cancers
Invasive breast cancers can cause specific signs and symptoms, such as:
- Itchy or irritated breasts
- 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
- Feeling a lump in your breast or thickening of the breast tissue
- Pitting of the skin on your breast, making it look somewhat like the skin of an orange
Can Cancer Cause Blood Clots
People with cancer have a greater risk of developing deep vein thrombosis . Many cancers secrete substances into the blood that make the blood “thicker” and more likely to form a clot. Many chemo drugs may also up your risk for DVT.
Why Does Cancer Cause Back Pain?
Most cases of back pain arent caused by cancer, but back pain can be an indicator.
Back pain is a symptom of many types of cancers, including primary bone cancer and those that have metastasized from the breast, colon, testicles, or lungs.
Usually, tumors put pressure on the spine and affect the nerves around it, which causes the pain.
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Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in your breast or underarm that doesnât go away. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
- Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. This could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Swelling may start before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it.
- Pain and tenderness, although lumps donât usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
- A flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you canât see or feel.
- Breast changes such as a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.
- Changes in your nipple, like one that:
- Pulls inward
- Develops sores
Breast Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
Most breast cancer symptoms are discovered by women during regular dailyactivities like bathing. Knowing how your breasts look and feel, andbeing alert for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, like a lump,can help you detect the disease early, when it’s easiest to treat.
Most breast changes are due to hormonal cycles or conditions that are less worrying than breast cancer. However, if you experience any of the following breast cancer symptoms, even if they seem mild, see your doctor.
- A lump in the breast or armpit is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Patients often describe this as a ball or a nodule. Lumps may feel soft and rubbery or hard. Unless you have small breasts or the lump is very large, you probably wont be able to see it.
- Skin redness
- Nipple changes, including the nipple turning inward, pulling to one side or changing direction
- Ulcer on the breast or nipple
- Thickening of the skin, resulting in an orange-peel texture
Though rare, men can also get breast cancer. The most common symptoms of male breast cancer are a lump, discharge or dimpling.
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What Are The Stages Of Breast Cancer
There are two different staging systems for breast cancer. One is called anatomic staging while the other is prognostic staging. The anatomic staging is defined by the areas of the body where the breast cancer is found and helps to define appropriate treatment. The prognostic staging helps medical professionals communicate how likely a patient is to be cured of the cancer assuming that all appropriate treatment is given.
The anatomic staging system is as follows:
Stage 0 breast disease is when the disease is localized to the milk ducts .
Stage I breast cancer is smaller than 2 cm across and hasn’t spread anywhere including no involvement in the lymph nodes.
Stage II breast cancer is one of the following:
- The tumor is less than 2 cm across but has spread to the underarm lymph nodes .
- The tumor is between 2 and 5 cm .
- The tumor is larger than 5 cm and has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm .
Stage III breast cancer is also called “locally advanced breast cancer.” The tumor is any size with cancerous lymph nodes that adhere to one another or to surrounding tissue . Stage IIIB breast cancer is a tumor of any size that has spread to the skin, chest wall, or internal mammary lymph nodes .
Stage IV breast cancer is defined as a tumor, regardless of size, that has spread to areas away from the breast, such as bones, lungs, liver or brain.