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How I Discovered I Had Breast Cancer

Getting A Breast Biopsy

How I found out I had breast cancer

In a breast biopsy, the doctor takes out small pieces of breast tissue to check them for cancer cells. A biopsy is the only way to tell for sure if you have breast cancer.

There are many types of biopsies. Ask your doctor what kind you will need. Each type has risks and benefits. The choice of which type to use depends on your own case.

Sometimes, surgery is needed to take out all or part of the lump to find out if its cancer. This is often done in a hospital using local anesthesia . You might also be given medicine to make you sleepy.

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 .

Playing The Waiting Game

Next came the waiting. I tried to keep myself occupied and my mind busy until I had the ultrasound, but I still couldnt shake the memory of how Id reacted when I first found the lump. I just knew it wasnt a normal part of my breast and that it wasnt like anything else Id ever experienced.

I was given an ultrasound and biopsy. At the ultrasound, I saw shadowing. It was at that point I knew it was cancer. I remember speaking to the man doing the ultrasound and saying I knew shadowing meant cancer, but he was unable to confirm it until Id had my biopsy later that day.

Four days later, I had my follow up appointment with the GP to tell me the results. Id mentally prepared myself for the worst, even though all my friends and family were telling me to remain positive. When the GP came to get me, he didnt say a word for the entire walk from the waiting area to the consultation room. This doubly confirmed for me that it had to be cancer.

I felt numb, even though I knew it was coming

He sat me down and came out with it, confirming that I had was breast cancer. Even worse, he warned that it was growing quickly, and stressed how lucky I was that Id found it when I had. He then went through the process of what would happen next and who Id be referred to for treatment.

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‘i Noticed What Felt Like A Frozen Pea In My Armpit’

So...I found out I have breast cancer!

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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I Needed Surgery Just Before Christmas

When I started treatment, it had a huge impact. I was unable to do everyday things because I was so tired. Plus, going through radiotherapy and chemotherapy meant I had to avoid seeing my family as, with COVID-19 being about, I had to be extra careful.

Christmas, especially, was affected by my diagnosis. I had a lumpectomy on 15 December, so I was healing from that while also being worried about the treatment I still had to come. It really took the shine off the festive season.

This year, now things are different, I hope I can spend the holidays with my family.

Inherited Breast Cancer And Risk Reduction

Family history is a known risk factor for breast cancer, with elevated risk due to both increasing number and decreasing age of first-degree relatives affected. For example, in a large, population-based study, risk of breast cancer was increased 2.9-fold among women whose relative was diagnosed prior to age 30, but the increase was only 1.5-fold if the affected relative was diagnosed after age 60 years. While twin studies indicate familial aggregation among women diagnosed with breast cancer, identification of true germline mutations, including BRCA1, BRCA2, p53 , PTEN , and STK11 , are quite rare, on the order of 5%-6%.- However, the management of young women at an increased risk of developing breast cancer via a germline mutation requires careful consideration, as screening, risk reduction, and implications for relatives are of upmost importance.

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Breast Examination After Treatment For Breast Cancer

After surgery

The incision line may be thick, raised, red and possibly tender for several months after surgery. Remember to examine the entire incision line.

If there is redness in areas away from the scar, contact your physician. It is not unusual to experience brief discomforts and sensations in the breast or nipple area .

At first, you may not know how to interpret what you feel, but soon you will become familiar with what is now normal for you.

After breast reconstruction

Following breast reconstruction, breast examination for the reconstructed breast is done exactly the same way as for the natural breast. If an implant was used for the reconstruction, press firmly inward at the edges of the implant to feel the ribs beneath. If your own tissue was used for the reconstruction, understand that you may feel some numbness and tightness in your breast. In time, some feeling in your breasts may return.

After radiation therapy

After radiation therapy, you may notice some changes in the breast tissue. The breast may look red or sunburned and may become irritated or inflamed. Once therapy is stopped, the redness will disappear and the breast will become less inflamed or irritated. At times, the skin can become more inflamed for a few days after treatment and then gradually improve after a few weeks. The pores in the skin over the breast also may become larger than usual.

What to do

How Much Do Anastrozole And Exemestane Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer

How I Found Out I Had Breast Cancer At 19

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.

References

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Can Cancer Form In Other Parts Of The Breast

Cancers can also form in other parts of the breast, but these types of cancer are less common. These can include:

  • Angiosarcomas. This type of cancer begins in the cells that make up the lining of blood or lymph vessels. These cancers can start in breast tissue or breast skin. They are rare.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer. This type of cancer is rare and different from other types of breast cancer. It is caused by obstructive cancer cells in the skins lymph vessels.
  • Paget disease of the breast, also known as Paget disease of the nipple. This cancer affects the skin of the nipple and areola .
  • Phyllodes tumors. These are rare, and most of these masses are not cancer. However, some are cancerous. These tumors begin in the breasts connective tissue, which is called the stroma.

How Does The Doctor Know I Have Breast Cancer

A change seen on your mammogram may be the first sign of breast cancer. Or you may have found a lump or other change in your breast.

The doctor will ask you questions about your health and will do a physical exam. A breast exam is done to look for changes in the nipples or the skin of your breasts. The doctor will also check the lymph nodes under your arm and above your collarbone. Swollen or hard lymph nodes might mean breast cancer has spread there.

If signs are pointing to breast cancer, more tests will be done. Here are some of the tests you may need:

Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms are mostly used to find breast cancer early. But another mammogram might be done to look more closely at the breast problem you might have.

MRI scan: MRIs use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make detailed pictures. MRIs can be used to learn more about the size of the cancer and look for other tumors in the breast.

Breast ultrasound: For this test, a small wand is moved around on your skin. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off tissues. The echoes are made into a picture that you can see on a computer screen. Ultrasound can help the doctor see if a lump is a fluid-filled cyst , or if its a tumor that could be cancer.

Nipple discharge exam: If you have fluid coming from your nipple, some of it may be sent to a lab. There, it will be checked to see if there are cancer cells in it.

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Less Invasive And Less Toxic Techniques

The sentinel lymph node technique identified the first lymph nodes where the cancer could spread. This allows for the removal of fewer lymph nodes.

Studies have also found that shorter courses of radiation and more targeted forms of radiation therapy can be just as effective as longer courses of radiation. This includes delivery radiation therapy during surgery for some patients.

Additionally, targeted and biologic therapies may allow doctors to avoid chemotherapy in certain situations. A large 2018 study indicated that adjuvant endocrine therapy and chemoendocrine therapy were similarly effective in certain types of breast cancer.

Weve come a long way since ancient Greece, but we still have a lot to learn about how breast cancer forms and how to treat it.

According to the American Cancer Society,

What Is Breast Cancer Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention

How I found out I had Breast cancer at 46

Breast cancer is a disease that starts in the breast with a malignant tumor. A malignant tumor is a mass of cells that grows out of control. The cancerous cells can also metastasize, or move to other tissues or parts of the body.

The cancer can develop in any of the three types of breast tissue: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue.

Most cancer begins in the lobules , or in the ducts, along which milk travels to the nipple. But tumors can also develop in the fibrous and fatty connective tissue that surrounds the lobules and ducts.

Several different types of breast cancer exist. The type of breast cancer and its stage, or how far it has grown, determine the treatment for it.

Breast cancer that spreads into normal tissue is called invasive breast cancer. Noninvasive breast cancer stays within the breast lobule or duct.

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Irish Beauty Therapist Discovered She Had Breast Cancer Thanks To The Only Way Is Essex

Donegal native Orla Maguire found a lump in her breast after she copied what the TOWIE stars were disccusing on a Breast Cancer Awareness Month episode

  • Rachel McLaughlin
  • 18:43, 25 Jan 2017

A BEAUTY therapist discovered she had breast cancer after watching The Only Way is Essex.

Orla Maguire decided to check herself after watching a special Breast Cancer Awareness Month episode of TOWIE.

And the 30-year-old, from Dungloe, Co Donegal, was stunned to find a lump in her right breast.

She said: The characters were talking about checking your breasts and messing around with each other.

I was getting ready for bed and has a quick feel around the area and felt something.

After finding the lump, Orla went to her GP, who referred her to Letterkenny General Hospital where she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Doctors found a 2.7cm tumour and she started a 12-week course of chemotherapy in Sligo Hospital four days before Christmas.

Orla said: This has become the new normal for me, its a part of you.

Its different every day. I could be fine for two weeks and then I get a double dose and feel sick, nauseous, tired and fatigued, then Im back to normal again until the next round.

I can be positive and bubbly when Im in good form thats just me.

Upbeat Orla has set up a Facebook page called My Right Tata to share her battle against cancer.

My Right Tata has gained 2,000 followers in less than a week and Orla is delighted to share her journey.

What Are The Signs Of Breast Cancer I Should Be Looking Out For

Often the first symptoms women notice is a lump or area of thickened tissue in breast or underarm.

Other common symptoms are:

  • A change in size in one or both of your breasts
  • A discharge of fluid from either of your nipples
  • A change in the texture and look of your breast or nipples.

Less common symptoms can include irritation or a rash on the breasts or nipples and bloody discharge from the nipple.

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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 cancer’s 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
  • Your age
  • Other health problems you have
  • Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it

Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Just Months After Turning 40 Stephanie Cosby Advocates For Early Screening

How I Found Out I Had Breast Cancer

Stephanie Cosby had her first mammogram at age 40 and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two weeks later, her mother was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer. Stephanie shares her experience of breast cancer treatment and of caring for her mother, who has since passed away, in a blog she created to help other women dealing with breast cancer issues.

Stephanie Cosby calls herself the new “poster child” for getting a mammogram at age 40.

I’ve been a nurse for 10 years and used to work in a breast cancer screening program, so I knew how important it is to get a screening mammogram at age 40. Within days after my birthday, I’d scheduled the appointment. During the exam, the mammogram tech told me that I’d probably be called in again due to the density of my breasts.

When I returned for the follow up mammogram, they found a lump that no one had been able to feel, including myself during my monthly self-breast exams. A few days later I had a breast biopsy. I had to wait only 5 days , but when you are waiting for the news you may have cancer, it can seem an eternity. On a Monday afternoon in August the radiologist called me and told me I had breast cancer.

Armed with this new information, I met with a genetic counselor from the breast program. She looked into my family history, talked about my risk of recurrence and offered genetic testing for the breast cancer genes BRCA-1 and BRCA-2. It was yet more information to help me make my treatment decisions.

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