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 it’s 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.
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.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
There are several risk factors that increase your chances of getting breast cancer. However, having any of these doesnt mean you will definitely develop the disease.
Some risk factors cant be avoided, such as family history. You can change other risk factors, such as quitting smoking, if you smoke. Risk factors for breast cancer include:
While there are risk factors you cant control, following a healthy lifestyle, getting regular screenings, and taking any preventive measures your doctor recommends can help reduce your risk for developing breast cancer.
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What Do Lumps In My Breast Mean
Many conditions can cause lumps in the breast, including cancer. But most breast lumps are caused by other medical conditions. The two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.
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Breast Cancer In Women Under 40
Each year, around 12,000 women under age 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer, making up less than 5% of all breast cancer cases, and it is the most common cancer found in women in this age group.
Throughout her lifetime, a woman has a 1 in 8 risk of developing breast cancer. No matter what your age you need to be aware of risk factors. In many cases of breast cancer early diagnosis is the key to survival.
This slideshow will tell you 10 things every young woman should know about breast cancer.
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Subtle Signs You May Have Breast Cancer
Finding a lump isn’t the only signal you need to be on the look out for.
When a woman is examining herself for breast cancer, there’s typically only one thing she’s on the lookout for: a lump. Unfortunately, that tell-tale sign is just one of the many that can lead to a diagnosis.
While a lump is still the most commonly-reported symptom, a 2016 study from Cancer Research UK found one in six women who are diagnosed with breast cancer report a totally different issue to their doctors. The problem is not everyone books an appointment as quickly as they should once something comes up. “These women are more likely to delay going to the doctor compared to women with breast lump alone,” says study author Monica Koo, PhD. “It’s crucial that women are aware that a lump is not the only symptom of breast cancer. If they’re worried about any breast symptoms, the best thing to do is to get it checked by a doctor as soon as possible.”
And according to 2020 data from Breastcancer.org, one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, which makes knowing all the signs of the disease all the more important. To make sure you catch a symptomas subtle as it may beas early as possible, take a look at these lesser-known signs you may have breast cancer. And for more potential problems you should be aware of as you age, check out 30 Health Issues Every Woman Over 30 Should Start Looking Out For.
Breast Cancer: Symptoms And Signs
Have questions about breast cancer? Ask here.
ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.
The majority of women with breast cancer do not have any body changes or symptoms when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer.
The following signs and symptoms should be discussed with a doctor. Many times, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer.
A lump that feels like a hard knot or a thickening in the breast or under the arm. It is important to feel the same area in the other breast to make sure the change is not a part of healthy breast tissue in that area.
Change in the size or shape of the breast
Nipple discharge that occurs suddenly, is bloody, or occurs in only 1 breast
Physical changes, such as a nipple turned inward or a sore located in the nipple area
Skin irritation or changes, such as puckering, dimpling, scaliness, or new creases
A warm, red, swollen breast with or without a rash with dimpling resembling the skin of an orange, called peau d’orange
Pain in the breast, particularly breast pain that does not go away. Pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer, but it should be reported to a doctor.
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Men And Breast Cancer Warning Signs
Breast cancer isnt typically associated with people who were assigned male at birth. But male breast cancer can occur in rare instances at any age, although its more common in older men.
Many people dont realize that people assigned male at birth have breast tissue too, and those cells can undergo cancerous changes. Because male breast cells are much less developed than female breast cells, breast cancer isnt as common in this part of the population.
The most common symptom of breast cancer in people assigned male at birth is a lump in the breast tissue.
Other than a lump, symptoms of male breast cancer include:
- thickening of the breast tissue
- nipple discharge
- redness or scaling of the nipple
- a nipple that retracts or turns inward
- unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast
Most men dont regularly check their breast tissue for signs of lumps, so male breast cancer is often diagnosed much later.
Pagets Disease Of The Breast
This is a rare skin condition that is sometimes a sign of an underlying breast cancer. The symptoms are a red, scaly rash on the nipple and surrounding area. This can be itchy and looks a bit like eczema. It is sometimes mistaken for eczema at first.
See your doctor if you have any changes in the skin of your breast.
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Invasive Breast Cancer Symptoms
Most breast cancers start in the ducts, or the tubes that carry milk to the nipple, or in the lobules, the little clusters of sacs where breast milk is made. Invasive breast cancer refers to breast cancer that spreads from the original site to other areas of the breast, the lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body. In these cancers that form in the ducts or lobules, invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma , the cancer spreads from the ducts or lobules to other tissue. Depending on the stage, you may notice symptoms.
Invasive breast cancer symptoms may include:
- A lump or mass in the breast
- Swelling of all or part of the breast, even if no lump is felt
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- A lump or swelling in the underarm lymph nodes
Does Breast Cancer Affect Women Of All Races Equally
All women, especially as they age, are at some risk for developing breast cancer. The risks for breast cancer in general arent evenly spread among ethnic groups, and the risk varies among ethnic groups for different types of breast cancer. Breast cancer mortality rates in the United States have declined by 40% since 1989, but disparities persist and are widening between non-Hispanic Black women and non-Hispanic white women.
Statistics show that, overall, non-Hispanic white women have a slightly higher chance of developing breast cancer than women of any other race/ethnicity. The incidence rate for non-Hispanic Black women is almost as high.
Non-Hispanic Black women in the U.S. have a 39% higher risk of dying from breast cancer at any age. They are twice as likely to get triple-negative breast cancer as white women. This type of cancer is especially aggressive and difficult to treat. However, it’s really among women with hormone positive disease where Black women have worse clinical outcomes despite comparable systemic therapy. Non-Hispanic Black women are less likely to receive standard treatments. Additionally, there is increasing data on discontinuation of adjuvant hormonal therapy by those who are poor and underinsured.
In women under the age of 45, breast cancer is found more often in non-Hispanic Black women than in non-Hispanic white women.
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What Are The Parts Of The Breast
A womans breast has three kinds of tissue
- Fibrous tissue holds the breast tissue in place.
- Glandular tissue is the part of the breast that makes milk, called the lobes, and the tubes that carry milk to the nipple, called ducts. Together, fibrous and glandular tissue are called fibroglandular tissue.
- Fatty tissue fills the space between the fibrous tissue, lobes, and ducts. It gives the breasts their size and shape.
Click to see larger diagrams of the front viewimage icon and side viewimage icon of the breast, showing the parts of the breast.
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.
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Getting A Breast Biopsy
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.
Undergoing Medical Screening For Breast Cancer
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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 Treated
If the tests find cancer, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to eradicate the breast cancer, to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the breast, as well as to reduce the chance of the cancer traveling to a location outside of the breast. Treatment generally follows within a few weeks after the diagnosis.
The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of lab tests done on the cancer cells, and the stage, or extent, of the disease. Your doctor will usually consider your age and general health as well as your feelings about the treatment options.
Breast cancer treatments are local or systemic. Local treatments are used to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area, such as the breast. Surgery and radiation treatment are local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systemic treatments. A patient may have just one form of treatment or a combination, depending on her individual diagnosis.
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Stage 3 Breast Cancer
- Stage 3A:
- The cancer has spread to 49 axillary lymph nodes or has enlarged the internal mammary lymph nodes, and the primary tumor can be any size.
- Tumors are greater than 5 cm, and the cancer has spread to 13 axillary lymph nodes or any breastbone nodes.
Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer At Young Age Have Higher Risk Of Disease Spreading New Study Says
In September charity CoppaFeel! launched a campaign urging younger women to get to know their body to raise awareness of breast cancer after Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding, died from the disease aged 39.
Wednesday 3 November 2021 03:01, UK
Women diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age appear to have a higher risk of the disease spreading to other parts of the body, a new study has found.
Overall, the risk of breast cancer spreading is between 6% and 22% however, it is higher in women diagnosed before the age of 35.
For these younger women, they have a 12.7% to 38% risk of the cancer metastasizing.
Signs of breast cancer include:
- A lump or thickened area
- Swelling or a lump in the armpit
- Change in nipple appearance or discharge
- New puckering or dimpling
- Constant or unusual pain in the breast or armpit
- A sudden or unusual change in size or shape
- A rush on the nipple or surrounding area
“This may be because younger women have a more aggressive form of breast cancer or because they are being diagnosed at a later stage,” said Dr Eileen Morgan from the International Agency for Research on Cancer who presented the study.
She added: “Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world.
“Most women are diagnosed when their cancer is confined to the breast or has only spread to nearby tissue.
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