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How To Tell If You Have Breast Cancer

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms

How to tell your kids you have breast cancer

Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer rarely causes breast lumps and may not appear on a mammogram. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms include:

  • Red, swollen, itchy breast that is tender to the touch
  • The surface of the breast may take on a ridged or pitted appearance, similar to an orange peel
  • Heaviness, burning, or aching in one breast
  • One breast is visibly larger than the other
  • Inverted nipple
  • No mass is felt with a breast self-exam
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm and/or above the collarbone
  • Symptoms unresolved after a course of antibiotics

Unlike other breast cancers, inflammatory breast cancer usually does not cause a distinct lump in the breast. Therefore, a breast self-exam, clinical breast exam, or even a mammogram may not detect inflammatory breast cancer. Ultrasounds may also miss inflammatory breast cancer. However, the changes to the surface of the breast caused by inflammatory breast cancer can be seen with the naked eye.

Symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can develop rapidly, and the disease can progress quickly. Any sudden changes in the texture or appearance of the breast should be reported to your doctor immediately.

For women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, redness, swelling, itchiness and soreness are often signs of a breast infection such as mastitis, which is treatable with antibiotics. If you are not pregnant or nursing and you develop these symptoms, your doctor should test for inflammatory breast cancer.

Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

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In an effort to stay safe from coronavirus, many of us have put off the annual screenings and check-ups where cancers are often caught. That’s understandable. Still, early detection is one of the best weapons against the disease.

Screenings can detect a cancer before symptoms appear. You too can pick up on early warning signs by paying close attention to changes in your body. If you notice something new or different that lasts several weeks and several weeks is key reach out to your health care provider. Not every symptom that could be cancer is cancer. But here are 17 symptoms that may warrant a call to your doctor:

‘i Felt Something Like A Hard Round Piece Of Cheese’

After a shower one night, I did a self-breast check. I felt something like a round, hard piece of cheese about the size of a quarter. I had just had a mammogram six months earlier. I felt healthy, biked all the time, and wouldnt have guessed that something wasnt right in my body. But I didnt wait to see what was going on. I went to the doctor immediately and was referred for an ultrasound and needle biopsy. I was diagnosed at age 46 with stage 3 breast cancer, and soon after had a mastectomy. I would never recommend to anyone to ‘wait and see.’ While it was a very scary realization, youre only saving yourself if you take care of it aggressively.

Sandy Hanshaw, founder of Bike for Boobs, San Diego

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Any Nipple Dischargeparticularly Clear Discharge Or Bloody Discharge

It is also important to note that a milky discharge that is present when a woman is not breastfeeding should be checked by her doctor, although it is not linked with breast cancer.

Let your doctor know about any nipple discharge, clear, bloody or milky. The most concerning discharges are bloody or clear.

Breast Pain Linked To Periods

Breast Cancer

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.

Read Also: Type 4 Breast Cancer

Undergoing Medical Screening For 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
  • 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

    Read Also: What To Expect With Breast Cancer

    Questions To Ask The Doctor

    • Do you know the stage of the cancer?
    • If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
    • Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
    • Based on the stage of the cancer, how long do you think Ill live?
    • Do you know if my cancer has any of these proteins: estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, or the HER2 protein?
    • What does it mean if my cancer has any of these proteins?
    • What will happen next?

    There are many ways to treat breast cancer.

    Surgery and radiation are used to treat cancer in a specific part of the body . They do not affect the rest of the body.

    Chemotherapy, hormone treatment, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy drugs go through the whole body. They can reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body.

    Doctors often use more than one treatment for breast cancer. The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:

    • The cancer’s stage and grade
    • If the cancer has specific proteins, like the HER2 protein or hormone receptors
    • The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
    • Your age
    • Other health problems you have
    • Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it

    What Is Breast Cancer

    A Breast Cancer Diagnosis: What you need to know

    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

    Read Also: Estrogen Receptor Breast Cancer Prognosis

    Signs That Warrant An Immediate Trip To A Doctor

    Some common cancer signs that should result in a visit to the emergency room or to a doctor as soon as possible include:

    • coughing up mucus tinged with blood
    • blood in stools or urine
    • lump in the breast, testicles, under the arm, or anywhere that it didnt exist before
    • unexplained but noticeable weight loss
    • severe unexplained pain in the head, neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis

    These and other signs and symptoms will be evaluated. Screenings, such as blood and urine tests and imaging tests, will be used if your doctor thinks its appropriate.

    These tests are done both to help make a diagnosis as well as rule out various causes of your signs and symptoms.

    When seeing a doctor, be prepared to share the following information:

    • your personal medical history, including all symptoms you have experienced, as well as when they began
    • family history of cancer or other chronic conditions
    • list of all medications and supplements you take

    For some cancers that are screened for on a regular basis, survival rates tend to be high. Thats because theyre often diagnosed early on, before symptoms develop.

    The 5-year survival rate for people with localized

    What To Do If You Have Breast Cancer

    Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can feel crippling and life-altering for both patients and their families. With 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, it’s unfortunately a common diagnosis to face. For many women diagnosed with breast cancer, what happens next may be a mystery. Taking time to understand the diagnosis and weigh the options is crucial in receiving the necessary treatment.

    Recommended Reading: Stage 1 Breast Cancer Survival Rate

    How Do You Know If You Have Breast Cancer Yahoo

    Dr. Jumnah Thanapathyestrogenrunoncologist Dr. John Geislerestrogen

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    How Can I Protect Myself From Breast Cancer

    Here are Ways to Check If You Have Breast Cancer Yourself ...

    Follow these three steps for early detection:

    • Get a mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends having a baseline mammogram at age 35, and a screening mammogram every year after age 40. Mammograms are an important part of your health history. Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force came out with new recommendations regarding when and how often one should have mammograms. These include starting at age 50 and having them every two years. We do not agree with this, but we are in agreement with the American Cancer Society and have not changed our guidelines, which recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40.
    • Examine your breasts each month after age 20. You will become familiar with the contours and feel of your breasts and will be more alert to changes.
    • Have your breast examined by a healthcare provider at least once every three years after age 20, and every year after age 40. Clinical breast exams can detect lumps that may not be detected by mammogram.

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    There’s Dimpling On Your Breast Skin

    Noticing some dimpling in the skin of one of your breasts might not seem like a big deal, but it could be a sign of breast cancer, says the Mayo Clinic. The issuewhich is called peau d’ orange, due to its resemblance of the texture of an orange peelcould be a sign of a more invasive type of breast cancer.

    ‘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

    Recommended Reading: Stage 3 Invasive Breast Cancer

    Diet And Lifestyle Changes

    Diet

    Your GP may suggest some things you can try which might help reduce pain, but theres limited evidence to show these work. These include:

    • eating a low-fat diet
    • increasing the amount of fibre you eat
    • reducing caffeine and alcohol

    Well-fitting bra

    Wearing a supportive and well-fitting bra during the day, during any physical activity and at night can be helpful.

    Relaxation and complementary therapies

    Some women have found relaxation therapy useful in reducing their symptoms of cyclical breast pain, such as relaxation CDs or apps, or other complementary therapies such as acupuncture and aromatherapy.

    Contraception

    If your pain started when you began taking a contraceptive pill, changing to a different pill may help. If the pain continues, you may want to try a non-hormone method of contraception such as condoms, a non-hormonal coil or a cap .

    HRT

    If your pain started or increased while taking HRT and doesnt settle after a short time, tell your GP.

    Evening primrose or starflower oil

    Theres evidence that having low levels of an essential fatty acid called GLA can contribute to cyclical breast pain. However, research has shown that taking additional GLA doesnt always help the pain. Despite this, your GP may suggest that you try evening primrose or starflower oil , as some women have found it helps them to feel better generally. Your GP will tell you how much to take and for how long.

    What Does The Equipment Look Like

    How do you tell your teenager you have cancer?

    You will be taken to an examination room that houses the PET scanner, which has a hole in the middle and looks like a large doughnut. Within this machine are multiple rings of detectors that record the emission of energy from the radioactive substance in your body and permit an image of your body to be obtained. While lying on a cushioned examination table, you will be moved into the hole of the machine. The images are displayed on the monitor of a nearby computer, which is similar in appearance to the personal computer you may have in your home.

    Read Also: Estrogen Sensitive Cancers

    How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed

    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 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.
    • 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 .

    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.

    Read Also: What Is The Most Common Clinical Manifestation Of Breast Cancer

    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.”

    Determine A Comfortable Location

    Women Must Stop Ignoring These 5 Signs Of Breast Cancer ...

    You may consider planning a certain time and location to discuss your health with your family. Breaking the news is never easy on both sides, but you can choose a good time to minimize any extra stress.

    You may choose a place where you know you and your family will both be comfortable. Plan beforehand and know that you dont have to have all of the answers. You also do not need to tell anyone right away.

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