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How To Know If You Have Breast Cancer

Undergoing Medical Screening For Breast Cancer

How to tell your kids you have breast cancer
  • 1Get a clinical breast exam. When you go in for your yearly physical or pelvic exam, ask your physician to do a manual check of your breasts for any suspicious lumps or other changes. Physicians are trained in how to do a breast exam and will know what to look for. This is why you should never try to replace this exam, though sometimes uncomfortable and awkward, with your own self-examination.XResearch source
  • Your doctor will begin by checking the appearance of your breasts. You will be asked to raise your arms over your head and then hang them down by your sides while the doctor examines the size and shape of your breasts. You will then undergo a physical examination. While you lie down on the examination table, your doctor will use the pads of their fingers to examine the entire breast area, including the armpits and collarbones. The exam should last for only for a few minutes.XResearch source
  • If you feel uncomfortable, you can ask for a nurse or family member to be present in the room for the exam. If youâre a female patient seeing a male doctor, this is standard procedure in most cases. If you feel any anxiety, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is a necessary part of keeping an eye on your health.
  • Diagnostic mammogram: A breast X-ray to evaluate the lump. This may take longer than a screening mammogram because more images will be required.
  • It’s important to note that 80% of women have a breast biopsy do NOT have breast cancer.XResearch source
  • You Have Enlarged Lymph Nodes Around Your Collarbone

    Your armpits aren’t the only subtle place you might experience lymph node swelling due to breast cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, the same issue can also occur above or below your collarbonesa location most people don’t even realize they have a set of lymph nodes in the first place. And for more red flags that aren’t always so obvious, check out 40 Subtle Signs Your Body Is Telling You Something’s Seriously Wrong.

    Symptoms Of Angiosarcoma Of The Breast

    Another rare form of breast cancer, angiosarcoma forms inside the lymph and blood vessels. Only a biopsy may definitively diagnose this type of cancer. Angiosarcoma can cause changes to the skin of your breast, such as the development of purple-colored nodules that resemble a bruise. These nodules, if bumped or scratched, may bleed. Over time, these discolored areas may expand, making your skin appear swollen in that area. You may or may not have breast lumps with angiosarcoma. If you also have lymphedema, which is swelling caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid, angiosarcoma may occur in the affected arm. Cancer treatment sometimes damages the lymph vessels, which may lead to lymphedema.

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    Breast Cancer Survival Rate

    Breast cancer survival rates vary widely based on many factors.

    Two of the most important factors are the type of cancer you have and the stage of the cancer at the time you receive a diagnosis. Other factors that may play a role include your age, gender, and race.

    shows theres a higher mortality rate in non-white people diagnosed with breast cancer compared with white people. One reason for this may be healthcare disparities.

    The good news is breast cancer survival rates are improving.

    According to the ACS , in 1975, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer in women was 75.2 percent. But for women diagnosed between 2008 and 2014, it was 90.6 percent.

    Five-year survival rates for breast cancer differ depending on stage at diagnosis, ranging from 99 percent for localized, early stage cancers to 27 percent for advanced, metastatic cancers.

    Planning Financially For Breast Cancer Treatment

    How To Know That You Have Breast Cancer

    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.

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    You’re Experiencing Abnormal Discharge

    While nipple discharge from breast milk is totally normal, if you’re noticing discharge that’s clear or bloody, that’s something you should get checked out since it could be a sign of breast cancer, says the National Breast Cancer Foundation. If you have discharge that’s milky, it could be something else, like hormonal changes or certain medication use.

    Your Nipple Is Turning Inward

    If your nipple is starting to turn inward when it wasn’t retracted before, it could be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, which is much more aggressive than other types of breast cancer, says the American Cancer Society. Because of that, you should book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to discuss any concerning changes.

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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 aren’t always cancerous, so breast imaging tests, like mammograms and breast MRI’s, 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.

    Surgery For Breast Cancer

    How Did I Know I Had 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.

    Reconstructive surgery

    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

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    Breast Cancer In Young Women

    Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. While breast cancer diagnosis and treatment are difficult for women of any age, young survivors may find it overwhelming.

    CDC is working to increase awareness of breast cancer and improve the health and quality of life of young breast cancer survivors and young women who are at higher risk of getting breast cancer.

    The Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women helps CDC develop evidence-based approaches to advance understanding and awareness of breast cancer among young women.Links with this icon indicate that you are leaving the CDC website.

    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.
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    Coping With Worries About Recurrence

    Nearly everyone who has been treated for cancer worries about it coming back.

    At first, every ache or pain can frighten you. But, as time passes, you may come to accept minor symptoms for what they are in most cases warning signs of a cold or flu or the result of over-exerting yourself.

    Some events may be particularly stressful the days or weeks leading up to your check-ups, the discovery that a friend or relative has been diagnosed with cancer or the news that someone you met while having treatment is ill again or has died.

    We all cope with such anxieties in our own way and there are no easy answers. But keeping quiet about them and not wanting to bother anyone is probably not the best approach.

    Just as talking about your diagnosis and treatment may have helped you through the early days, talking about your fears relating to recurrence may help you later on.

    Breast Cancer Nows Forum lets you share your worries with other people in a similar situation to you.

    You can also read our tips on coping with anxiety and find suggestions in BECCA, our free app that helps you move forward after breast cancer.

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    The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca

    At the Breast Cancer Centers at each of our CTCA® hospitals, located across the nation, our cancer experts are devoted to a single missiontreating breast cancer patients with compassion and precision. Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and coordinated by a registered oncology nurse, who helps track the various appointments, follow up on tests and answer questions that come up along the way. Your care team also may include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with advanced training in helping patients restore function and appearance. Fertility preservation and genetic testing are also available for qualifying patients who need them.

    Our pathologists and oncologists are experienced and trained in tools designed to diagnose, stage and treat different types of breast cancer, from early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ to complex diseases such as triple-negative and inflammatory breast cancer. As part of our patient-centered care model, which is designed to help you keep strong during treatment, your multidisciplinary care team may recommend various evidence-informed supportive therapies, such as naturopathic support, psychosocial support, nutritional support, physical and occupational therapy and pain management. The entire team works together with a whole-person focus, which is at the heart of our centers dedication to personalized and comprehensive care.

    Testing For Proteins And Genes

    Taking the edge off Breast Cancer

    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.

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    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.

    References

    Breast Cancer Screening & Early Detection

    After the age of 45, women should go for annual mammograms, breast exams, and cancer screenings to be proactive in detecting an abnormality. Catching cancer in its early stages is crucial for increasing a patient’s survival rate. If women are at a high risk due to family history or risk factors such as being overweight or having a previous exposure to chest radiation, they may want to consider scheduling mammograms earlier. If something irregular is detected, doctors may also order a breast ultrasound or a needle biopsy to further inspect the area. Patients should understand the proper protocols for detection, and doctors should communicate recommendations and offer insights about potential concerns.

    If a doctor fails to order age-based cancer screenings, ignores a patient’s symptoms and concerns that may align with a breast cancer diagnosis, or fails to consider previous health conditions and red flags, a patient may not be receiving the standard of care that is to be expected. If a breast cancer diagnosis is delayed, leading to a more invasive breast cancer in its later stages, patients may be eligible to file a breast cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit and be awarded compensation for costly cancer treatments, pain, and suffering.

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    How To Do A Breast Self

    Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.

    Here’s what you should look for:

    • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
    • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling

    If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:

    • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
    • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple
    • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
    Breast Self-Exam Step 1
    Larger Version

    Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

    4 Steps to Checking For Breast Cancer Symptoms

    In its early stages, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms. In many cases, a tumor may be too small to be felt, but an abnormality can still be seen on a mammogram.

    If a tumor can be felt, the first sign is usually a new lump in the breast that was not there before. However, not all lumps are cancer.

    Each type of breast cancer can cause a variety of symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar, but some can be different. Symptoms for the most common breast cancers include:

    • a breast lump or tissue thickening that feels different than surrounding tissue and has developed recently
    • breast pain
    • changes to the appearance of the skin on your breasts
    • a lump or swelling under your arm

    If you have any of these symptoms, it doesnt necessarily mean you have breast cancer. For instance, pain in your breast or a breast lump can be caused by a benign cyst.

    Still, if you find a lump in your breast or have other symptoms, you should see your doctor for further examination and testing.

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    ‘i Felt A Pea On My Ribs’

    I had done monthly self-breast exams since I was in my early 20s. I felt a tiny hard little bump the size of a small pea. I could only feel it because it was over my rib at the bottom of my left breast. In retrospect, my bra may have hurt a little in that area before I found the lump. I have had many lumps, bumps, and cysts biopsied, but this pea was definitely different. I scheduled my annual mammogram along with a biopsy. I received the breast cancer diagnosis within a week, just shy of my 55th birthday. Turns out, there was another in the other breast that didnt show up on a mammogram. I also discovered I was a BRCA 1 mutation carrier. I needed aggressive chemo followed by a double mastectomy. Had I not done the exam that evening, everything would be quite different.

    Cynthia Bailey, MD, president and CEO of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology, Inc., Sebastopol, California

    How Do I Tell My Friend I Have Breast Cancer

    If the cancer is advanced, your doctor, a trained counselor, or a support group can help you decide what to tell others. Set boundaries that feel right to you. If talking about your diagnosis leaves you feeling drained, space out how often you tell others. You can also ask someone you trust to share the news for you.

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    Your Armpit Lymph Nodes Are Swollen

    Most people are always looking for bumps in their breasts, but don’t forget to check your lymph nodes for swelling, too. “Many patients who end up diagnosed with breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes have no symptoms in the breast, no changes in the structure of the breast, but they come in for a consult because they feel something under their arm,” says Alvarez. “This may mean that cancer from the breast has traveled to the lymph nodes, and now there is lymph node invasion.”

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