What Should You Look For In Your Breasts
Be aware of any new or unusual changes in your breasts. If you notice any signs or symptoms of breast cancer , see your doctor immediately.
Sign or symptoms of breast cancer will depend on where the tumour is, the size of the tumour and how quickly it is growing in the breast. For example, some women will not have any symptoms and the breast cancer is found during a screening mammogram .
Surgery For Breast Cancer
Most women with breast cancer have some type of surgery. Common types of breast surgery are lumpectomy, mastectomy, and taking out lymph nodes from the underarm. Women who have a mastectomy may also decide to have the breast shape rebuilt, either at the same time or later on.
Choosing between lumpectomy and mastectomy
Lumpectomy only takes out the lump and a little bit around it. It lets you keep most of your breast. The downside is that youll most likely need radiation treatment after surgery. But some women who have a mastectomy also need radiation afterward.
When choosing between a lumpectomy and mastectomy, be sure to get all the facts. At first you may think that a mastectomy is the best way to get it all out. Some women tend to choose mastectomy because of this. But in most cases, lumpectomy is just as good as mastectomy. Talk to your cancer care team. Learn as much as you can to make the right choice for you.
If you have a mastectomy, you may want to think about having your breast shape rebuilt. This is called breast reconstruction. Its not done to treat the cancer. Its done to build a breast shape that looks a lot like your natural breast.
If youre going to have a mastectomy and are thinking about having reconstruction, you should talk to a plastic surgeon before the mastectomy is done. Your breast can be rebuilt at the same time the mastectomy is done or later on.
Side effects of surgery
Grade Of Breast Cancer
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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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.
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.
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Do Yourself A Favour And Learn How To Check Your Breasts
A third of women dont check their breasts regularly for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, a poll has suggested. Women say this is because they dont know how to do it or because they are scared of finding something.
But checking your breasts regularly breast awareness is vital to women of any age because if you find a change that turns out to be cancer, the sooner its diagnosed the more effective the treatment is likely to be.
Remember, most breast changes wont turn out to be breast cancer.
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Symptoms To Look Out For
Some people with breast cancer experience no symptoms. In some cases, however, changes may start to occur from an early stage. People should speak with a doctor about their screening plan if they have any concerns.
It is also worth noting that not all breast lumps are breast cancer, and not every case of breast cancer involves a lump. For these reasons, people should attend regular screening as a doctor recommends.
Breast cancer can cause changes in the lymph nodes in the early stages.
To check the lymph nodes, look for:
- a lump, swelling, or thickening around the underarm
- a lump or swelling in the collarbone area
- a thickening of the skin in the armpit
Lymph node involvement can also result in a rash on the breast in people with inflammatory breast cancer.
A person should contact a doctor about these or any other unexplained changes, especially if they only seem to affect one breast.
What Is A Breast Self
BSE is when a woman physically and visually examines herself for any changes in her breasts and underarm areas. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has found evidence that suggests BSEs do not lower the risk for death from breast cancer. Therefore, if you choose to do BSE, it should not be used in place of, but in addition to, clinical breast examination and mammography.
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Second Opinions For Breast Cancer
Detecting breast cancer can be a complicated process, so health professionals always encourage patients to undergo different tests and get a second opinion prior to beginning any treatment to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Breast tumors and other abnormalities arenât always cancerous, so breast imaging tests, like mammograms and breast MRIâs, examine deep breast tissue and are necessary to properly diagnose cancer. A second opinion can also help patients determine the best path for treatment, as different specialists can provide different insights for treatment options. Patients should keep records of all visits and diagnoses to maintain evidence for a malpractice lawsuit if a misdiagnosis occurs.
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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Keeping Personal Health Records
You and your doctor should work together to develop a personalized follow-up care plan. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your future physical or emotional health. ASCO offers forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan when treatment is completed. At the conclusion of active treatment, ask your doctor to provide you with a treatment summary and a survivorship care plan.
This is also a good time to talk with your doctor about who will lead your follow-up care. Some survivors continue to see their oncologist, while others transition back to the care of their family doctor, another health care professional, or a specialized survivorship clinic. This decision depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, side effects, health insurance rules, and your personal preferences.If a doctor who was not directly involved in your cancer care will lead your follow-up care, be sure to share your cancer treatment summary and survivorship care plan forms with them and with all future health care providers. Details about your cancer treatment are very valuable to the health care professionals who will care for you throughout your lifetime.
The next section in this guide is Survivorship. It describes how to cope with challenges in everyday life after a cancer diagnosis. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
How Should I Check My Breasts
Take the time to get to know how your breasts normally look and feel through normal regular activities .
You dont need to use a special technique, but ensure you look at and feel your breasts regularly. Make sure this includes all parts of your breast, your armpit and up to your collarbone.
For women of all ages, it is recommended that you be breast aware. Breast awareness is being familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts, so that you can identify any unusual changes .
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How Do I Self
Lots of people talk about doing self-checks , to try and spot cancer early.
Its good to be aware of what your body is normally like, so its easier to notice if anything changes. But theres no good evidence to suggest that regularly self-checking any part of your body in a set time or set way is helpful. It can actually do more harm than good, by picking up things which wouldnt have gone on to cause you problems.
Self-checking is different to cancer screening read more about screening for cancer.
How To Perform A Breast Cancer Self
1. Simply look at your breasts in the mirror. Look from different angles, with your arms down and then raised.
What you should see:
- Breasts that are smooth and dont show any visible signs of distortion
- The usual size, shape and color of your breasts
Signs to look out for:
- Changes in skin texture, such as dimpling, puckering or bulging
- Changes in the position of either nipple
- Any redness, splotches or other signs of a rash
- Abnormal swelling
- Any signs of fluid coming from either nipple
2. Feel your breasts while lying down, and then again while standing up. Using the pads of your first two or three fingers, make circular motions about the size of a quarter along the entire surface of your breasts and near your armpit. Use light, medium and firm pressure to feel the different layers of tissue.
What you should feel:
- The usual consistency of your breasts
- Whatever is normal in the different regions of your breasts
Signs to look out for:
- Lumps or hard masses in your breast tissue
- Thickening or fullness that feels different than the surrounding tissue
- Unusual warmth
- A nipple that has become inverted
Self-breast exams arent a surefire way to detect breast cancer only medical testing, such as mammograms, can do that but they can help you become more familiar with your breasts and, as such, more aware of any changes.
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What To Look For
You are looking and feeling for changes in the size, shape or feel of your breasts and armpits.
Most people naturally have one breast bigger than the other and this is normal.
Changes to look for:
- a new lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
- a change in size, shape or feel of your breast
- skin changes in the breast such as puckering, dimpling, a rash or redness of the skin
- fluid leaking from the nipple in a woman who isnt pregnant or breast feeding
- changes in the position of nipple
It may help to find a comfortable and quiet place to do this. You may prefer to do this in the shower or bath, by running a soapy hand over each breast and under both armpits.
Remember to check the area near to your breast as well as your breasts. For example, the nearby armpit and the area above your breast.
Book an appointment to see your doctor, without delay if you notice any of these changes.
How To Check Yourself For Breast Cancer At Home
Lumps, dimpling and more: What to look for during a breast self-exam, plus how often you should check.
Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among women. Knowing how to check yourself for it can aid in early detection.
About one in eight women in the US will develop breast cancer during her lifetime and aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Although death rates from breast cancer have thankfully declined over the last several years, its still important to check yourself for breast cancer.
Because even in a world with high-tech doctors offices and plenty of ways to talk to a doctor online, taking care of yourself starts with you. By setting aside just five minutes every month to do a self exam, you can increase the likelihood of early detection if you do have cancer. The earlier you detect cancer, the earlier a doctor can treat it. And when it comes to breast cancer, early treatment is the key to a good prognosis.
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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.