Using Your Family History
You should certainly share your family history with your medical team. Your doctors might advise genetic counseling or genetic testing if your family history suggests that you could be carrying a breast cancer gene.
Some red flags include:
- Cancer of;any;kind before the age of 50
- More than one relative with the same type of cancer
- One family member who has more than one type of cancer
- A family member who has cancer not typical for that gender, such as breast cancer in a male
- Certain combinations of cancer, such as the combination of breast cancer with ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, or melanoma
- Cancer in both of one organ, for example, bilateral breast or ovarian cancer
Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms
Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on the part of the body to which the cancer has spread and its stage. Sometimes, metastatic disease may not cause any symptoms.
- If the breast or chest wall is affected, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
- If the bones are affected, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.
- If tumors form in the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest wall pain or extreme fatigue.
- If the liver is affected, symptoms may include nausea, extreme fatigue, increased abdominal girth, swelling of the feet and hands due to fluid collection and yellowing or itchy skin.
- If breast cancer spreads to the brain or spinal cord and forms tumors, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, difficulty with movement;or seizures.
Can Cancer Form In Other Parts Of The Breast
Cancers can also form in other parts of the breast, but these types of cancer are less common. These can include:
- Angiosarcomas. This type of cancer begins in the cells that make up the lining of blood or lymph vessels. These cancers can start in breast tissue or breast skin. They are rare.
- Inflammatory breast cancer. This type of cancer is rare and different from other types of breast cancer. It is caused by obstructive cancer cells in the skins lymph vessels.
- Paget disease of the breast, also known as Paget disease of the nipple. This cancer affects the skin of the nipple and areola .
- Phyllodes tumors. These are rare, and most of these masses are not cancer. However, some are cancerous. These tumors begin in the breasts connective tissue, which is called the stroma.
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What’s The Best Thing To Say To Your Friend Or Family Member Who’s Just Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
Bonus: This won’t apply to everyone, but if your friend is religious or spiritual, touch on that. Tell her you’ll pray for her; you’re sending her good karma, or that you’ll do some Reiki with her. Treat her to a therapeutic massage. Join her on the spiritual part of her cancer journey, if you’re able. Healing the soul is just as important as healing the body.
Finally, if none of the words above seem to fit your relationship , a hug is always welcome. Or a shoulder squeeze. Even a simple pat on the arm. The human touch – literally – is wonderfully healing.
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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Breast Pain Linked To Periods
Many women feel discomfort and lumpiness in both breasts a week or so before their period.;
The pain can vary from mild to severe and the breasts can also be tender and sore to touch.;;
You may experience heaviness, tenderness, a burning, prickling or stabbing pain, or a feeling of tightness.
The pain usually affects both breasts but it can affect just one breast. It can also spread to the armpit, down the arm and to the shoulder blade.;
Cyclical breast pain is linked to changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle. The pain often goes away once a period starts. In some women, this type of pain will go away by itself, but it can come back.
This type of pain usually stops after the menopause, though women taking hormone replacement therapy can also have breast pain.;;
Breast pain can also be associated with starting to take or changing contraception that contains hormones.
What To Expect At A Breast Clinic Appointment
If youve been referred to a breast clinic by your GP or if youve been recalled following routine;breast screening, its natural to feel anxious or worried.
The vast majority of people who are seen at a breast clinic will not have breast cancer. However, its still important to attend your breast clinic appointment so you can be fully assessed.
Find out more below about why you might have ;or;, and how long you will wait for an appointment. You can also learn more about;routine breast screening.
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Lymphatic And Vascular System
There is a lymphatic and vascular network inside the breast. The vascular system consists of blood vessels, and the lymphatic system consists of lymph channels.
These two systems work together to carry blood and fluid to and from the breast tissue to the rest of the body.
If breast cancer enters these systems, it can travel throughout the body, increasing the chance of it spreading or coming back.
Lymph nodes are clusters of bean-shaped cells present throughout the lymphatic system. These are immune cells that act as filters. They are the first place breast cancer is likely to spread.
What To Expect At The Breast Clinic
Your breast clinic appointment may take several hours so that all the necessary tests can be carried out. You will usually have a breast examination, followed by one or more of the following tests:
The order in which the tests are done will vary between clinics.
You can take a partner, friend or relative with you for company and support. Some people prefer to go on their own.
You may be asked to fill in a short questionnaire before you are seen by a doctor or specialist nurse. This includes questions about:
- any family history of breast problems
- any medicines youre taking, including hormone replacement therapy or the contraceptive pill
- any previous breast surgery, including breast implants
During your breast examination, the doctor or nurse may want to check both your breasts when you are sitting, and again when you are lying down. As part of the examination, its normal to examine the lymph nodes under your arm and around your neck.
If you have been referred from a breast screening clinic, you may not have a breast examination.
Having a breast examination, breast imaging and tissue removal is known as a triple assessment. This may be necessary to make a definite diagnosis.
What To Do If You Spot A Possible Sign Of Breast Cancer
Dont panic. If you notice a change in your breast, it doesnt necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Some of these changes may be a result of benign, or non-cancerous, breast conditions, explains Dr. Duncan.
Still, if you notice any change at all, especially one occurring in only one breast, its a good idea to contact your doctor to get treatment started right away, if necessary.
‘i Had Fevers And Difficulty Breastfeeding’
I was misdiagnosed with mastitis twice because I had high fevers and trouble breastfeeding. It turned out to be cancer. Tumors were blocking the milk ducts. I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at age 32, five weeks after I had my first child. It didnt look like mastitis at all. So many people told me ‘100% chance’ it is nothing. No one thought of any alternative, however, until multiple courses of treatment failed.
Melissa Thompson, healthcare policy advocate, Stamford, Connecticut
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How Do U Know When U Have Cancer 7 Cancer Warning Signs No One Should Ignore
How do u know when u have cancer? There are many overlooked signs that you dont notice but are telling you that cancer is growing somewhere on your body.
Routine tests, regular doctor appointments, eating healthy and being active does not always protect us from cancer. Cancer could be growing in our bodies without us being aware of it.
There are a lot of tell-tell signs and weve categorized them and listed them for you, so you could check and always beware of them.
Your body communicates with you, and whenever you get some of these symptoms, immediately pay your doctor a visit.
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Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
- Add exercise into your routine
- Limit alcohol
- Limit postmenopausal hormone use
- Breastfeed if possible
Cancer doesnt discriminate. Some women are genetically predisposed to the disease. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer have no risk factors other than being female. Many lead healthy lives and have no symptoms until a mammogram detects an abnormality. Others find an unfamiliar change in the breast and seek care.
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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.
Nipple Retraction Or Inversion
Breast cancer can cause cell changes behind the nipple. These changes can result in the nipple inverting and reversing inward into the breast, or it may look different in terms of its size.
The appearance of the nipples can often alter during ovulation or other parts of the menstrual cycle, but people should see a doctor about any new nipple changes.
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Other Causes Of Pain And Tenderness
We often associate pain with something wrong, so when people feel tenderness or pain in their breast, they often think of breast cancer. But breast pain is rarely the first noticeable symptom of breast cancer. Several other factors can cause the pain.
Clinically known as mastalgia, breast pain can also be caused by the following:
- the fluctuation of hormones caused by menstruation
How To Handle The Warning Signs
Having any of these signs or symptoms does not mean you have breast cancer. Cysts, infections and other non-cancerous breast conditions also may cause symptoms.
However, do call your doctor right away if you have symptoms or any time you notice unusual changes in how your breasts look or feel. Dont wait and see if the changes go away. Its important to find out what is causing these changes. If you do have breast cancer, early detection can make treatment easier and more successful.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle.
- A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
- A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
- A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple.
- A change in the look or feel of the skin on the breast or nipple .
- Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
- An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
- A marble-like hardened area under the skin.
These changes may be found when performing monthly breast self-exams. By performing breast self-exams, you can become familiar with the normal monthly changes in your breasts.
Breast self-examination should be performed at the same time each month, three to five days after your menstrual period ends. If you have stopped menstruating, perform the exam on the same day of each month.
Stage Of Breast Cancer
When your breast cancer is diagnosed, the doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as Stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer .
- Stage 1 the tumour measures less than 2cm and the lymph nodes in the armpit aren’t affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 2 the tumour measures 2-5cm or the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 3 the tumour measures;2-5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues. The lymph nodes in the armpit are affected. However, there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 4 the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body .
This is a simplified guide. Each stage is divided into further categories: A, B and C. If you’re not sure what stage you have, ask your doctor.
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Living With Breast Cancer
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can affect daily life in many ways, depending on what stage;it’s at and;the treatment you will have.
How people cope with the diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. There are several forms of support available, if you need it.
Forms of support may include:
- family and friends, who can be a powerful support system
- communicating with other people in the same situation
- finding out as much as possible about your condition
- not trying to do too much or overexerting yourself
- making time for yourself
Find out more about living with breast cancer.
Prepare Yourself Before Talking To Your Boss
Before sharing this news with your employer, consider what facts they will need to know and how much detail you are willing to share.
You may know your general diagnosis, have a treatment schedule planned and know how side effects may affect your time at work. Write those down and if you may need to ask for reasonable accommodations, note those as well.
If you don’t have many details yet, just gather up what you do know and prepare to be honest.
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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.
What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Like many conditions, risk factors for breast cancer fall into the categories of things you can control and things that you cannot control. Risk factors affect your chances of getting a disease, but having a risk factor does not mean that you are guaranteed to get a certain disease.
Controllable risk factors for breast cancer
- Alcohol consumption. The risk of breast cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. For instance, women who consume two or three alcoholic beverages daily have an approximately 20% higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who do not drink at all.
- Body weight. Being obese is a risk factor for breast cancer. It is important to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
- Breast implants. Having silicone breast implants and resulting scar tissue make it harder to distinguish problems on regular mammograms. It is best to have a few more images to improve the examination. There is also a rare cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma that is associated with the implants.
- Choosing not to breastfeed. Not breastfeeding can raise the risk.
- Using hormone-based prescriptions. This includes using hormone replacement therapy during menopause for more than five years and taking certain types of birth control pills.
Non-controllable risk factors for breast cancer
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