What Does Breast Cancer Look Like
In many cases, women spot signs of breast cancer outside of regular breast cancer screenings. In fact, paying attention to changes in your breasts during regular activities like showering or getting dressed, along with getting your annual mammogram if youre age 40 or over, is one of the best ways to increase your chances of finding breast cancer early, when its easiest to treat.
Any change you notice that is different to you, you should get it checked out, says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Andersons Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center. Its always better to get something checked out and find its nothing than to ignore it.
Any subtle change in your breasts should be taken seriously, but here are some symptoms that might be a sign of breast cancer.
Normal Breast Changes Through Life
The female breast will go through various normal changes over the course of a lifetime. Many of these changes are driven by hormones. They can be related to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or the normal aging process. Most breast changes are not cancer, however, if you do notice an unusual breast change, it is important that you speak with your doctor so that it can be checked as soon as possible.
Normal breast changes throughout life include:
The Look Of Breast Cancer On A Mammogram
A tumor or lump will appear as a focused white area on the mammogram. Tumors may be benign or cancerous. A tumor that is benign, it is not a health problem and it may not grow or change shape. In many cases, the breast tumors are non-cancerous.
The small white checks are normally harmless. The radiologist checks the pattern and shape since they may be a sign of cancer.
Dense and Fatty Breast Tissue
Normal Breast Tissue Cancerous Tumor
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Does A Benign Breast Condition Mean That I Have A Higher Risk Of Getting Breast Cancer
Benign breast conditions rarely increase your risk of breast cancer. Some women have biopsies that show a condition called hyperplasia . This condition increases your risk only slightly.
When the biopsy shows hyperplasia and abnormal cells, which is a condition called atypical hyperplasia, your risk of breast cancer increases somewhat more. Atypical hyperplasia occurs in about 5% of benign breast biopsies.
Male Breast Ultrasound: Gynecomastia Versus Breast Cancer
Male breast cancer is very rare, but one condition, gynecomastia, which is the development of abnormally large breasts in men, is quite common. Gynecomastia is usually caused by excessive growth of fibroglandular breast tissue in men in their 60s or as the result of hormonal imbalances.
However, in rare cases, breast cancer can be the cause of gynecomastia so, a full mammographic investigation is always necessary.
In the mammogram below, one can see the increase in the density of the fibroglandular tissues behind the nipple. It appears to be developing in a concentric pattern. The contour of the dense area is concave-outward and interspersed with fat.
There are no well-formed masses and no suspicious microcalcifications. It certainly would appear to be gynecomastia from natural or hormonal causes and not breast cancer.
In the sonogram of the same breast, one notes that the density appears hypoechoic with ill-defined margins. The amount of tissue appears to be thicker than average in a male but the only way to know if anything abnormal is going on in the sonogram would be to compare it with an ultrasound of the other breast to see if the densities are about the same.
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How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed
During your regular physical examination, your doctor will take a thorough personal and family medical history. He or she will also perform and/or order one or more of the following:
- Breast examination: During the breast exam, the doctor will carefully feel the lump and the tissue around it. Breast cancer usually feels different than benign lumps.
- Digital mammography: An X-ray test of the breast can give important information about a breast lump. This is an X-ray image of the breast and is digitally recorded into a computer rather than on a film. This is generally the standard of care .
- Ultrasonography: This test uses sound waves to detect the character of a breast lump whether it is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass . This may be performed along with the mammogram.
Based on the results of these tests, your doctor may or may not request a biopsy to get a sample of the breast mass cells or tissue. Biopsies are performed using surgery or needles.
After the sample is removed, it is sent to a lab for testing. A pathologist a doctor who specializes in diagnosing abnormal tissue changes views the sample under a microscope and looks for abnormal cell shapes or growth patterns. When cancer is present, the pathologist can tell what kind of cancer it is and whether it has spread beyond the ducts or lobules .
What Is Breast Cancer
Cells in the body normally divide only when new cells are needed. Sometimes, cells in a part of the body grow and divide out of control, which creates a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the cells that are growing out of control are normal cells, the tumor is called benign. If, however, the cells that are growing out of control are abnormal and don’t function like the body’s normal cells, the tumor is called malignant .
Cancers are named after the part of the body from which they originate. Breast cancer originates in the breast tissue. Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. It can also travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors, a process called metastasis.
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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:
Immunotherapy For Breast Cancer
Other medications may be used to encourage a persons own immune system to kill cancer cells. These are called immunotherapy drugs, or biologic therapy, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Like other targeted drugs, immunotherapies typically dont damage healthy cells as much as chemotherapy does. That said, as with any drug, there are potential side effects, such as skin rashes, flu-like symptoms, and diarrhea. Currently, there are two immunotherapy drugs approved to treat certain advanced breast cancers:
Atezolizumab . This drug combines the immunotherapy drug atezolizumab with a chemotherapy drug to help target locally advanced triple-negative breast cancer and metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.
Pembrolizumab . This immunotherapy medication treats certain types of metastatic breast cancer that cant be treated with surgery. It may be used in combination with chemotherapy drugs in some cases to treat metastatic or locally recurrent triple-negative breast cancer.
The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca
At the Breast Cancer Centers at each of our CTCAÂ® 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.
What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is rare and is sometimes thought to be some kind of infection. However, this kind of cancer can develop and spread quickly . It causes redness, swelling, and dimpling in the affected breast. IBC does not usually cause lumps to form in breast tissue. Instead, it appears as a rash or skin texture similar to an orange peel.
The condition results when cancer cells block lymph vesselssmall, hollow tubes allowing lymph fluid to drain out of the breast.
Because IBC can grow quickly , it requires immediate treatment. Doctors usually treat IBC with a combination of therapies, including chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy.
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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
Breast Lumps Or Lumpiness
Many women find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture.
Some women have more lumpiness in their breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then its likely normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast or that feel like a change should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition .
See a health care provider if you:
- Find a new lump that feels different from the rest of your breast
- Find a new lump that feels different from your other breast
- Feel something thats different from what you felt before
If youve had a benign lump in the past, dont assume a new lump will also be benign. The new lump may not be breast cancer, but its best to make sure.
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Whether You’re Spending The Day At The Pool Or Beach Or You’re Just Looking For A Product To Wear Daily To Protect You Sunscreen Is An Important Part Of Skin Care
Common causes range from illness to injury to inflammation. Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. It’s characterized most commonly by the appearance of dry, thickened skin patches. According to the american cancer society, just over 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the united states each year. Whether you’re spending the day at the pool or beach or you’re just looking for a product to wear daily to protect you, sunscreen is an important part of skin care. Discovering new growths on your skin can cause your mind to race towards worrying about cancer, but take heart. Psoriasis is a skin condition that affects approximately 3% of the u.s. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the united states by a pretty large margin, and it does not discriminate. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer found in women after skin cancer but that doesn’t mean men aren’t at risk as well. Not only does it help prevent sunburn, but it can also help prevent skin ca. Of course, your specialist is the main person whose advice you should follow but it doesn’t do anyone harm. If you have skin cancer, it is important to know which type you have because it affects your treatment options and your outlook . Depending on the type o.
Depending on the type o. The strongest risk factor for developing skin cancer is ultraviolet ray exposure, typically from the sun. Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer.
Mammogram And Mri Image Comparisons
Mammograms, in addition to regular breast exams, are the primary screening tool used for breast cancer. Breast magnetic resonance imaging is much more expensive than mammograms, and the equipment is not as widely available. For this reason, MRI technology is not used for routine breast screening.
However, breast MRI has its place. Because it can capture an image that is higher contrast and more detailed than a mammogram, it may be used for women who are at high risk for breast cancer or have dense breasts, or when a mammogram reveals an area that needs further examination. It is also often used, especially in younger women, to monitor the other breast for the development of breast cancer if a woman has had a mastectomy on one side.
These two side-by-side comparisons show mammography on the left and an MRI on the right. The MRI image illustrates the deeper level of detail, which is extremely helpful to confirm a diagnosis.
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What Happens After The Local Breast Cancer Treatment
Following local breast cancer treatment, the treatment team will determine the likelihood that the cancer will recur outside the breast. This team usually includes a medical oncologist, a specialist trained in using medicines to treat breast cancer. The medical oncologist, who works with the surgeon, may advise the use of the drugs like tamoxifen or anastrozole or possibly chemotherapy. These treatments are used in addition to, but not in place of, local breast cancer treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy.
After treatment for breast cancer, it is especially important for a woman to continue to do a monthly breast examination. Regular examinations will help you detect local recurrences. Early signs of recurrence can be noted in the incision area itself, the opposite breast, the axilla , or supraclavicular region .
Maintaining your follow-up schedule with your physician is also necessary so problems can be detected when treatment can be most effective. Your health care provider will also be able to answer any questions you may have about breast self-examination after the following procedures.
Information About The Lesion As Seen On Mammograms And Ultrasounds
On a mammogram, a lesion will usually appear brighter than the surrounding tissue. This is because things that are denser than fat will stop more x-ray photons, hence they appear brighter.
Ultrasounds are a little harder to figure out. The darkest images on a sonograph are cysts containing liquid. Solids are less definitive. With ultrasound, the radiologist will probably be trying to get a sense of the internal texture of the breast lesion and surrounding area.
Solid lesions can be a little brighter or darker than the surrounding tissue, and the way to evaluate these on ultrasound is to look closely at the margins or the outer edges of the nodule.
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What Are Breast Lobes And Breast Ducts
Each female breast contains 15-20 sections called lobes. Each lobe is made up of many smaller sacs called lobules . It is these lobules that produce milk in breastfeeding women. The lobes and lobules are connected to the nipple by tubes called ducts, which carry milk to the nipple. Milk flows through the nipple to the outside during breastfeeding.
Survival Rates For Her2
Cancer survival statistics are typically reported using a 5-year survival rate. This is the percentage of individuals that are still living 5 years after their diagnosis.
Survival rates can vary based off of the subtype of breast cancer that you have. A publication from the reports 5-year survival rates for HER2-negative breast cancers as:
- 92 percent for HER2-negative, HR-positive breast cancer
- 77 percent for triple-negative breast cancer
Keep in mind that HER2 and HR status arent the only factors that can influence outlook. Other important factors at diagnosis include:
- the stage of the cancer
- the specific type of breast cancer
- your age and overall health
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