Telling Your Children You Have Breast Cancer
Some parents avoid telling their children for fear of upsetting them or having to answer difficult questions. But children are able to pick up on changes and may know when somethings upsetting or worrying you.
If a child feels left out, they may start to think theyve done something wrong or create a story that could be far worse than the truth. Many children feel they cant tell you their worries, and retreat into themselves.
Children need to feel they can trust their parents, and being honest helps them do that. Keeping it a secret may also be tiring and difficult to maintain. There is also a risk that if you dont tell them, they will find out another way.
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.
If You Notice A Change In Your Breasts
If you find or feel a lump or notice any other change to your breasts, its important to get checked by your GP as soon as possible. Book an emergency appointment with your doctor, who may refer you to a breast clinic where you will be seen within two weeks.
Many symptoms of breast cancer, including breast lumps, are non cancerous and caused by normal breast changes. But it remains vital that you pay attention to your body and seek help if you notice anything that isnt normal for you.
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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.
How Do Tamoxifen Raloxifene Anastrozole And Exemestane Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer
If you are at increased risk for developing breast cancer, four medications tamoxifen , raloxifene , anastrozole , and exemestane may help reduce your risk of developing this disease. These medications act only to reduce the risk of a specific type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. This type of breast cancer accounts for about two-thirds of all breast cancers.
Tamoxifen and raloxifene are in a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators . These drugs work by blocking the effects of estrogen in breast tissue by attaching to estrogen receptors in breast cells. Because SERMs bind to receptors, estrogen is blocked from binding. Estrogen is the fuel that makes most breast cancer cells grow. Blocking estrogen prevents estrogen from triggering the development of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.
Anastrozole and exemestane are in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors . These drugs work by blocking the production of estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors do this by blocking the activity of an enzyme called aromatase, which is needed to make estrogen.
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Effect Of Hormonal Changes On Breasts
As women develop from pre-puberty through puberty, pregnancy and to menopause, the breasts will be affected by a variety of fluctuations in hormones.
During puberty, hormones produced by the ovaries cause growth and development of the breast. After puberty, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone will change throughout a womans monthly menstrual cycle. This may cause women to have swollen or tender breasts at different times of the month.
During pregnancy the body will produce additional oestrogen and progesterone, which trigger further growth and development of the breast to prepare mothers for breastfeeding.
Around the time of menopause , the ovaries stop producing female hormones including oestrogen. Without oestrogen, the breast tissue decreases in size. After menopause , monthly menstrual periods stop.
When To See A Doctor
People should not panic or be fearful when they notice breast changes. Aging, changes in hormone levels, and other factors can lead to breast changes throughout a persons lifetime.
However, people should be proactive about their health and visit a doctor to determine the cause of any breast symptoms.
Each of the eight changes listed above can warrant a trip to the doctor, especially if these changes do not seem to relate to one of the following:
- the menstrual cycle
- previous illness, such as a breast infection
A doctor can evaluate the symptoms, examine the affected breast or breasts, and recommend further studies if necessary. They may suggest a mammogram, ultrasound, other imaging tests, or bloodwork to rule out infection or other potential causes.
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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 youre caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:
- if you have a job but cant work because of your illness, youre entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you dont have a job and cant work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if youre 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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Can Exercise Help Reduce My Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer
Exercise is a big part of a healthy lifestyle. It can also be a useful way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer in your postmenopausal years. Women often gain weight and body fat during menopause. People with higher amounts of body fat can be at a higher risk of breast cancer. However, by reducing your body fat through exercise, you may be able to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
The general recommendation for regular exercise is about 150 minutes each week. This would mean that you work out for about 30 minutes, five days each week. However, doubling the amount of weekly exercise to 300 minutes can greatly benefit postmenopausal women. The longer duration of exercise allows for you to burn more fat and improve your heart and lung function.
The type of exercise you do can vary the main goal is get your heart rate up as you exercise. Its recommended that your heart rate is raised about 65 to 75% of your maximum heart rate during exercise. You can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your current age from 220. If you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is 155.
Aerobic exercise is a great way to improve your heart and lung function, as well as burn fat. Some aerobic exercises you can try include:
Remember, there are many benefits to working more exercise into your weekly routine. Some benefits of aerobic exercise can include:
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Breast Lumps Or Lumpiness
Many women find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture.
Some women have more lumpiness in their breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then its likely normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast or that feel like a change should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition .
See a health care provider if you:
- Find a new lump that feels different from the rest of your breast
- Find a new lump that feels different from your other breast
- Feel something thats different from what you felt before
If youve had a benign lump in the past, dont assume a new lump will also be benign. The new lump may not be breast cancer, but its best to make sure.
What Are The Risk Factors
Several factors can increase a mans chance of getting breast cancer. Having risk factors does not mean you will get breast cancer.
- Getting older. The risk for breast cancer increases with age. Most breast cancers are found after age 50.
- Genetic mutations. Inherited changes in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, increase breast cancer risk.
- Family history of breast cancer. A mans risk for breast cancer is higher if a close family member has had breast cancer.
- Radiation therapy treatment. Men who had radiation therapy to the chest have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Hormone therapy treatment. Drugs containing estrogen , which were used to treat prostate cancer in the past, increase mens breast cancer risk.
- Klinefelter syndrome.Klinefelter syndromeexternal icon is a rare genetic condition in which a male has an extra X chromosome. This can lead to the body making higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of androgens .
- Certain conditions that affect the testicles. Injury to, swelling in, or surgery to remove the testicles can increase breast cancer risk.
- Liver disease. Cirrhosis of the liver can lower androgen levels and raise estrogen levels in men, increasing the risk of breast cancer.
- Overweight and obesity. Older men who are overweight or have obesity have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than men at a normal weight.
Talk to your doctor about your familys history of cancer.
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Symptoms Elsewhere In The Body
Sometimes breast cancer cells can spread from the breast to other parts of the body. This is known as secondary breast cancer.
Some symptoms to be aware of include:
- unexpected weight loss and a loss of appetite
- severe or ongoing headaches
Find out more about the symptoms of secondary breast cancer.
Keep Talking With Your Children
Telling your children you have breast cancer, answering their questions and dealing with their initial responses may be just the beginning. There will be times during and after your treatment when more talking and explaining will be necessary. Throughout this time, keep the lines of communication open and keep checking in with them.
From time to time there will be new information to give your children, for example about your treatment or the outcome of a follow-up appointment. This means they may have further questions. Often the questions may take you by surprise, perhaps when youre driving or watching TV rather than when youre ready and prepared. Other children like to have a dedicated place where they can sit and talk to you about things that frighten or worry them. This might help them to go about their day knowing that they can come back to the same spot when they need to.
You may want to encourage older children to talk with your doctors and nurses, perhaps when you go for a hospital appointment. This can reassure them that a lot is being done for you and that hospitals can be friendly, supportive places.
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How To Tell If Your Cancer Is Back
According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, around one in five breast cancer survivors who have had five years of adjuvant therapy have a recurrence within 10 years of treatment.
Areas of recurrenceA recurrence of breast cancer can happen in the same place that the disease originally occurred or in other places if the cancer has metastasized. Breastcancer.org states that the most common areas for a possible recurrence of breast cancer include:
- The breast or place where the breast was previously
- The chest
- In or on the bones
- On or near the lungs
- The liver
- The brain
Even though the term “breast cancer” makes it seem like this disease can only take place in the breasts, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body. If you had breast cancer previously and have developed cancer in a different area of your body, it is likely to be another growth of the original cancer, not a different kind.
Signs of recurrenceThe first two years after a patient is treated for breast cancer are the most critical time when it comes to cancer recurrence. Your original cancer diagnosis greatly affects the likelihood that the disease will come back. If you experience any of these signs, go to your doctor immediately:
- A new lump or irregular firmness in the breast
- Nipple discharge
- Redness or inflammation of the skin on a previously cancerous breast
- Nodules on your chest wall
- Thickening of the skin? on or close to a mastectomy scar
Undergoing Medical Screening For Breast Cancer
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Effect On Black Women
Many Black women do not present with any symptoms of breast cancer. Subtle signs like a darkening of the breasts or dimpling of the skin may be warning signs of breast cancer, but Black women tend to have denser breast tissue, which may mask these signs.
To stay on top of your breast health, its important to:
- See a primary care doctor regularly
- Perform a routine self-breast examination
- Follow the American Heart Association and USPFTF guidelines on mammograms
Questions Your Children May Ask About Your Breast Cancer
Below weve listed some of the common questions children ask when they learn that someone close to them has cancer. How you respond is a personal decision , but weve made some suggestions based on whats helped others in the past.
Is it my fault?
Children often think disruption in the family is a result of their behaviour, and might blame themselves. Try to reassure them that its nothing theyve done and they arent being punished.
What you could say: Its not your fault, or anyone elses. Nothing you have done or said has caused it.
Can I catch it?
Young children may think cancer is contagious and that it can be caught by touching, hugging or sharing space.
What you could say: Some illnesses like colds and chicken pox can pass from one person to another but cancer is different you cant catch it.
Are you going to die?
From the age of about seven most children begin to realise that death is the end of a persons life and that it is irreversible. They start to understand that all people, including themselves, will eventually die.
What you could say: My type of cancer usually gets better with treatment. Some people with cancer do die but we are not expecting that to happen to me. The doctors have told me they have very good treatments for me.
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What Is Breast Cancer
Cells in the body normally divide only when new cells are needed. Sometimes, cells in a part of the body grow and divide out of control, which creates a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the cells that are growing out of control are normal cells, the tumor is called benign. If, however, the cells that are growing out of control are abnormal and don’t function like the body’s normal cells, the tumor is called malignant .
Cancers are named after the part of the body from which they originate. Breast cancer originates in the breast tissue. Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. It can also travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors, a process called metastasis.