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How To Find Out You Have Breast Cancer

Signs That May Indicate Its Time To Learn Some New Coping Skills

How to find out you have breast cancer

Obsession. If you find yourself obsessing about cancer, it may be time to intentionally back off from the intensity.

If youre losing sleep, neglecting self care, unable to care for your children, awfulizing, or spending several hours online researching, it might be time to step away for a while. Take breaks!

Avoidance. Dont diagnose yourself, delay, or avoid recommended tests and treatment.

If your physician has ordered more tests, it is because he or she feels the need to gather more facts. If treatment or further testing is recommended, its in your best interest to respond promptly.

Feeling overwhelmed with advice.;Dont assume anyone elses situation or story will be identical to yours.

You have the right to be discerning about when and how you get your advice, although well-meaning friends and acquaintances may be drawn to share their positive and negative experiences, you can listen to your own emotions. Its always okay to say when youve had enough.

Hopelessness or Despair. Notice depression.

If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression, be sure to let your healthcare provider know. Although sadness, anxiety, and grief are natural emotions at this time, do your best to cultivate hope and keep it alive inside you.

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How Triple Negative Breast Cancer Diagnosis Works

The first step in getting a diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer is often an imaging test like a mammogram. You might already be having these as regular screening scans, or your doctor might arrange one specifically to check out a change in your breast or a lump.

During a mammogram, a radiographer takes images of both breasts from multiple angles, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains. Kevin Kalinsky, M.D., M.S., a medical oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, adds that if a lump is palpablemeaning you can feel it through the skinyour doctor might also recommend an ultrasound.

If any of these exams show something abnormal, a biopsy will be arranged in order to collect one or more samples of the suspicious tissue to test for cancer. A pathologist will look at the tissue sample under a microscope to confirm whether its cancerous. It will usually take a few days to get the results, according to the American Cancer Society.

How Do I Know If My Breast Cancer Has Spread

After youve had a;biopsy, your doctor will want to check and see if your cancer has spread. A number of tests and procedures can detect, diagnose and determine how far your breast cancer may have spread. The most common include:

  • A physical exam and medical history to check for lumps and suspicious areas, including any changes in the nipples and lymph nodes under your arms
  • Imaging that can show tumors in the breast and body:
  • Mammogram to look for suspicious areas in the breast
  • Ultrasound;to look at specific areas of concern found on a mammogram
  • MRI ;using a magnet, radio waves and a computer to examine suspicious areas found by a mammogram

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Check Your Breasts Every Month

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with approximately 1.7 million new cases diagnosed every year . It is the fifth most common cause of death from cancer in women.

Did you know? Breast cancer risk doubles each decade until menopause, after which the increase slows. However, breast cancer is more common after menopause.

In saying this, its so important to check your breasts every month no matter what age you are. While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you feel a lump, self-breast examinations help you to familiarize yourself with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes. Changes can be many things including appearance and the way things feel.

Which Are The Most Common Types Of Breast Cancer

How to find breast cancer lumps yourself: Video of lying ...


Invasive ductal carcinoma ;is the most common breast cancer, with more than 230,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. in 2015. DC starts in the milk duct of the breast but can spread to other parts of the body.


Another type of breast cancer, called;lobular carcinoma , is the second most common breast cancer. It starts out in the lobules and can also quickly spread. LC is harder to detect on a mammogram than DC.


Inflammatory breast cancer ;accounts for one percent to three percent of all breast cancers and is the hardest to treat. In most women, it makes the skin of the breast look red and feel warm or itchy. It is often mistaken for a common breast infection called;mastitis. In 30 percent of women who have IBC, their cancer has already spread by the time they are diagnosed.

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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.

What About Other Treatments That I Hear About

When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.

Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.

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No One Should Have To Face Breast Cancer Alone

Knowing exactly what to do after a breast cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming. But the good news is that you dont have to face all the questions and decisions alone.

You can count on us to help you through it all with a personalized treatment plan and an integrated team of specialists to take care of you at every step of your breast cancer journey.

With award-winning cancer centers and clinics in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, were here for you and your family.

If youve been referred to an oncologist or surgeon, and have yet to schedule an appointment, choose a location and then give us a call.

Were your cancer-answers-fast partner

What If You Have Early

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If you have early-stage breast cancer but no symptoms to suggest the cancer has spread, you should not get an imaging test to look for cancer in other places in your body. The chance that your cancer has spread is very small. Studies show that breast cancer spreads to the liver and bones in fewer than 6 out of 100 people. And this is usually in patients with stage III breast cancer.

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What Treatment Options Are Typically Available

Breast cancer treatments have two main goals: to destroy as much of the cancer as possible, and to prevent tumors from returning.

Some treatments remove or destroy the disease within the breast and nearby tissues, such as lymph nodes. These treatments include:

Surgery: Surgical options include a mastectomy, which removes the whole breast, and a lumpectomy, or breast-conserving surgery that removes only the tumor and the tissues around it. Sentinel node biopsy is a surgical diagnostic technique that removes one or a few of the first draining lymph nodes to determine whether cancer cells have spread beyond the breast. Women who have surgery as part of their breast cancer treatment may choose oncoplastic and breast reconstruction surgery to rebuild the shape and look of the breast.

Radiation therapy:;This conventional technique uses targeted, high-energy radioactive waves to destroy tumors.

Because these treatments often affect the lymph nodes,;lymphedemais a common treatment-related side effect for breast cancer patients who receive surgery or radiation therapy. Lymphedema is the buildup of lymphatic fluid under the skin, which often leads to swelling.

The goal of other treatments is to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. These include:

Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapy treatment along with surgery or radiation in order to kill cancer cells that were left behind by other treatments.

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.

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Testing For Proteins And Genes

The breast cancer cells will be tested for certain proteins called estrogen and progesterone receptors. If the cancer has these proteins, it’s called a hormone receptor positive breast cancer. The cells are also tested to see if the cancer makes too much of the HER2 protein. If it does, it’s called a HER2-positive cancer. These cancers are sometimes easier to treat. If the cancer doesn’t test positive for any of these proteins, it’s called a triple-negative breast cancer.

The cells might also be tested for certain genes, which can help decide if chemo might be helpful and how likely it is that the cancer will come back. Ask your doctor to explain the tests they plan to do, and what the results might mean.

How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed

Breast Cancer: A Visual Guide

Magnetic resonance imaging may be used to diagnose breast cancer.

Doctors often use additional tests to find or diagnose breast cancer. They may refer women to a breast specialist or a surgeon. This does not mean that she has cancer or that she needs surgery. These doctors are experts in diagnosing breast problems.

  • Breast ultrasound. A machine that uses sound waves to make detailed pictures, called sonograms, of areas inside the breast.
  • Diagnostic mammogram. If you have a problem in your breast, such as lumps, or if an area of the breast looks abnormal on a screening mammogram, doctors may have you get a diagnostic mammogram. This is a more detailed X-ray of the breast.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging . A kind of body scan that uses a magnet linked to a computer. The MRI scan will make detailed pictures of areas inside the breast.
  • Biopsy. This is a test that removes tissue or fluid from the breast to be looked at under a microscope and do more testing. There are different kinds of biopsies .

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After Cancer Is Diagnosed

If the biopsy and other tests show that you have cancer, you may have more tests to help your doctor plan treatment. For instance, your doctor will need to figure out the stage of your cancer. For some cancers, knowing the grade of the tumor or risk group that you fall into are important for deciding on the best treatment. Your tumor may also be tested further for other tumor or genetic.;

To learn more about other tests that may be used to plan treatment for your cancer, see the PDQ® cancer treatment summaries for adult and childhood cancers for your type of cancer.;

How Did You Discover You Had Cancer

No two cancer diagnoses are alike. You may learn of your diagnosis after a routine screening or exam, after months or years of coping with undiagnosed symptoms, or even after just feeling like something is off. We asked our followers to share the first signs or symptoms they experienced before being receiving their cancer diagnosis. Check out a few of their responses below and view them all here.

Please keep in mind that these are individual stories and may not reflect typical symptoms, recommendations or treatment paths.

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Planning Financially For Breast Cancer Treatment

An unexpected cancer diagnosis often comes with a heavy financial burden. Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, surgeries, and medications throughout the treatment journey can come as a shock, especially if they turn out to be out-of-pocket expenses. Medical bills can create additional stress in already trying times, so it’s important that patients understand any and all expenses that may arise during breast cancer treatment.

Patients should always contact their insurance company to see what expenses will be covered by insurance and what resources will require funds from elsewhere. Crowdfunding via sites like GoFundMe has become a popular way to cover medical and living expenses throughout the treatment journey, as patients look to the support of their friends, family, and even generous strangers in their community. If a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer after receiving a misdiagnosis, compensation from a successful medical malpractice lawsuit can also help ease the financial stress of growing medical bills.

Establishing A Breast Cancer Healthcare Team

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Patients should form a care team to ensure complete care is provided upon receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Whether it is through emotional support or medical procedures, establishing a team that can help a patient’s treatment and recovery journey from all angles is essential in the process. Members of this team can include:

  • Primary care doctor
  • Plastic surgeon
  • Patient navigator

This team of individuals can provide quality care, whether it be through counseling or medical procedures, along with the comfort that patients will need during a critical time in their lives. If a patient must undergo a double mastectomy to prevent the cancer from spreading, post-cancer treatment such as breast reconstruction surgery may be necessary and may require another doctor and specialist. Depending on the severity of the prognosis, a team of palliative care or spiritual support providers may be needed throughout the process to help support both patients and their families.

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What Type Of Doctor Should I See If I Think I Have Breast Cancer

If you think you have breast cancer, you should talk to your primary care physician or OB/GYN. A number of doctors may play a role in your;breast cancer treatment. The following is a list of doctors who may be involved in your care:

  • Medical oncologist: A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and targeted therapy
  • Surgical oncologist: A doctor who uses surgery to diagnose, stage and treat cancer and manage certain cancer-related symptoms, and who may perform biopsies and other surgical procedures such as removing a lump or a breast
  • Radiation oncologist: A physician trained in cancer treatment using radiation to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells

What Is Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. It starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control.

Breast;cancer cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. Breast cancer is most common in women, but;men can get breast cancer, too.

Breast cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body and grow there, too. When cancer cells do this, its called metastasis.

Cancer is always named based on the place where it starts. So even if breast cancer spreads to the bones , its still called breast cancer. Its not called bone cancer unless it starts from cells in the bone.

The breast

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Genomic Tests To Predict Recurrence Risk

Doctors use genomic tests to look for specific genes or proteins, which are substances made by the genes, that are found in or on cancer cells. These tests help doctors better understand the unique features of each patients breast cancer. Genomic tests can also help estimate the risk of the cancer coming back after treatment. Knowing this information helps doctors and patients make decisions about specific treatments and can help some patients avoid unwanted side effects from a treatment that may not be needed.

The genomic tests listed below can be done on a sample of the tumor that was already removed during biopsy or surgery. Most patients will not need an extra biopsy or more surgery for these tests.

For patients age 50 or younger

    • Recurrence score less than 16: Hormonal therapy is usually recommended, but chemotherapy is generally not needed

    • Recurrence score of 16 to 30: Chemotherapy may be recommended before hormonal therapy is given

    • Recurrence score of 31 or higher: Chemotherapy is usually recommended before hormonal therapy is given

For patients older than 50

The tests listed above have not been shown to be useful to predict risk of recurrence for people with HER2-positive or triple-negative breast cancer. Therefore, none of these tests are currently recommended for breast cancer that is HER2 positive or triple negative. Your doctor will use other factors to help recommend treatment options for you.


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