Second Cancers After Breast Cancer
Breast cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often a major concern is facing cancer again. Cancer that comes back after treatment is called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer.
Women whove had breast cancer can still get other cancers. Although most breast cancer survivors dont get cancer again, they are at higher risk for getting some types of cancer, including:
- A second breast cancer
- Salivary gland cancer
- Melanoma of the skin
- Acute myeloid leukemia
The most common second cancer in breast cancer survivors is another breast cancer. The new cancer can occur in the opposite breast, or in the same breast for women who were treated with breast-conserving surgery .
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.
Your Breast Is Changing Colors
Another symptom of inflammatory breast cancer is when your breast skin turns pink or reddish on more than half the breastsomething that can be hard to tell in those with darker skin tones. “Sometimes these changes in coloration can be difficult to find in African Americans and in obese patients with very large breasts,” Ricardo H. Alvarez, MD, leads the Breast Cancer Center Institute at Cancer Treatment Centers of America , said on the CTCA website. And for harmful habits you should be aware of, check out 30 Things You Had No Idea Could Cause Cancer.
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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
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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- Breast Cancer Now: Secondary breast cancer
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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 aren’t 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.
What Does A Tumor Feel Like Under The Skin
Lumps, tumors, and all sorts of things one can feel in the breast can feel surprisingly similar: firm, as opposed to the normal, more spongy tissue of the breast. They are often irregularly shaped as opposed to a sphere or ball shape. Lumps are also usually mobile within the breast and can be moved around within the breast.
However, its important to note that this can vary from person to person. Ultimately, anytime you feel something thats different from what your normal breast tissue feels like, or if you notice anything that generally feels unusual, you should speak to your medical team about that.
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Always Seek Medical Attention Even During The Coronavirus Pandemic
The key point is that a woman should seek medical attention for any concerning lumps in her breasts, says Harold Burstein, MD, PhD, a breast oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center.
Simple imaging techniques, such as a mammogram or breast ultrasound, can usually provide reassurance that the breast lump is benign. If necessary, a breast MRI or biopsy can be used to evaluate whether the lump is cancerous.
Money And Financial Support
If you have to reduce or stop work because of your cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.
If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:
- if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carers Allowance
- you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income
Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.
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Tests To Determine Specific Types Of Treatment
You’ll also need tests that show whether the cancer will respond to specific types of treatment. The results of these tests can give your doctors a more complete picture of the type of cancer you have and how best to treat it. The types of test you could be offered are discussed below.
In some cases, breast cancer cells can be stimulated to grow by hormones that occur naturally in your body, such as oestrogen and progesterone.
If this is the case, the cancer may be treated by stopping the effects of the hormones, or by lowering the level of these hormones in your body. This is known as “hormone therapy”.
During a hormone receptor test, a sample of cancer cells will be taken from your breast and tested to see if they respond to either oestrogen or progesterone. If the hormone is able to attach to the cancer cells , they’re known as “hormone receptor positive”.
While hormones can encourage the growth of some types of breast cancer, other types are stimulated by a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 .
These types of cancer can be diagnosed using a HER2 test, and treated with medication to block the effects of HER2. This is known as “biological” or “targeted” therapy.
How To Know If You Have Breast Cancer
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 24 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 574,587 times.
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British Columbia Specific Information
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in British Columbia. Breast cancer can occur in men as well, but it is not as common. Tests and treatments for breast cancer vary from person to person, and are based on individual circumstances. Certain factors such as your age, family history, or a previous breast cancer diagnosis may increase your risk of developing breast cancer. For information about your specific risk factors, speak with your health care provider.
A number of screening methods, including mammograms in women, can help find and diagnose breast cancer. The decision to have a mammogram or use any other screening method may be a difficult decision for some women. While screening for breast cancer is often recommended, it is not mandatory. Speak with your health care provider for information regarding how to get screened, the facts and myths about screening tests, how to maintain your breast health, and to get help making an informed decision.
For more information about breast cancer and breast cancer screening, visit:
If you have questions about breast cancer or medications, speak with your health care provider or call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse or pharmacist. Our nurses are available anytime, every day of the year, and our pharmacists are available every night from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
I Noticed What Felt Like A Frozen Pea In My Armpit
During a routine breast self-exam, I felt a really tiny lump. It didnt hurt, but it was mobile and felt like a frozen pea. It was right inside my armpit, which seemed odd at first, but I remembered that your breast tissue actually extends into your armpit. This didnt feel consistent with the breast changes that came along with my menstrual cycle.
I actually kept quite calm, even though in my gut, I knew what was going on. So I called my ob-gyn, who offered to take a look during my next annual exam, which was months away. After nothing changed in a week, I called the breast center at my local hospital and demanded to be seen. After imaging and biopsies, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 24.
From my experience, I hope that other women will learn that you need to monitor changes in your body, but its futile if youre afraid to speak up about them. Women need to have the confidence to speak up.
Brittany Whitman, Cleveland Education Ambassador for Bright Pink
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Early Signs Of Breast Cancer
Pinpointing breast cancer in its earliest stages isnt easy becauseare different for everyone. Sometimes there is a palpable lump or tenderness. Very often, there is neither. Generally, breast cancer shows no symptoms in the early stage.
However, there are certain changes in the breast that may indicate breast cancer in both men and women.
Whether you are a man or a woman, its important to become familiar with your breasts so you can recognize when changes occur and seek timely treatment. Know the facts and understand your risk factors for the disease, such as , by reviewing these frequently asked questions.
What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast pain can be a symptom of cancer. If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Some warning signs of breast cancer are
- New lump in the breast or underarm .
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
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What Are The Common Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
The following early signs and symptoms of breast cancer can happen with other conditions that are not cancer related.
- New lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
Have Questions Or Concerns About Your Breast Health Dont Delay Find Answers Fast
Thanks in large part to earlier detection and advances in breast cancer treatment options, this disease is more survivable than ever. Thats a trend all of us can feel good about.
So, if youre due for screening, call to schedule a mammogram at one of our breast health centers in the Twin Cities. Oftentimes, we can offer next-day and same-day appointments.
If you have another breast health concern or are noticing any unusual symptoms, dont ignore what youre feeling. Make an appointment with a primary care doctor. Primary care doctors are experts in diagnosing and treating hundreds of conditions.
Questions or concerns about your breast health? Were here for you.
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You Have A Reddish Or Purple Nipple
Noticing your nipple change colors isn’t a great sign. According to Holly Pederson, MD, director of medical breast services at the Cleveland Clinic, it could be a symptom of cancer and could also involve flaking and irritation. “Cancer can originate in the nipple,” she told WebMD. “The nipple will look reddish or purplish it doesn’t look normal. It’s actually the tumor cells invading the nipple that cause the skin to look different if it is breast cancer.”
Why Do Girls Need Them
Most teens don’t need breast exams. That’s because it’s rare for girls to have breast problems. Doctors usually just look at a girl’s breasts during her yearly gyn checkup to see where she is in her development. But if you have a family history of breast problems, your doctor or nurse might give you a breast exam.
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How To Feel For Changes
Using the following steps, a person can feel for changes such as lumps, thickening, or pain:
Carry out the same routine while lying down, allowing the breast tissue to rest evenly against the chest wall.
Research On Breast Exam Standards: Learning What To Feel For
A team of scientists and physicians at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill identified the most effective method for teaching women how to do breast self-exam, in a study called How Best to Teach Women Breast Self-Examination: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Women were randomly assigned into three groups to learn how to learn to do breast self-examination using three different techniques. The first group of women was taught tactile BSE skills using Mammacares standardized breast simulations . The second group of women was taught BSE using traditional printed materiala pamphlet. The third group of women was encouraged to perform BSE without any instruction.
The study reported:
Mammacare instruction resulted in more long-term improved lump detection and examination technique use than did traditional instruction or physician encouragement.
About the Author
Mark Goldstein, Ph.D., was a member of the scientific team on the National Cancer Institute research project that validated the procedures for effective physical examination of the breast. He is a Senior Scientist at the MammaCare Foundation and has devoted his scientific career to advancing the early detection of breast cancer.
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