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.
How To Break The News
When and how you tell your loved ones is up to you. Many people choose to tell their partner or spouse first, followed by close family members and friends.
You might start off with, âThis is going to be difficult, but I need to tell you something.â Or, if they know youâve had tests, you could say that your doctor has found out whatâs wrong.
If you donât want to give the news in person, you can tell others over the phone, video chat, email, text, or social media. âThink about what youâre going to say in advance and how youâll respond to the reactions and questions they may have,â Brown says.
Try not to pressure yourself to put on a happy or 100% confident face. Itâs OK to be honest about how you feel.
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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Telling Family Members And Friends
As you digest this news, you may be thinking how am I ever going to tell my kids or friends or family members? Ill start with the kids since, if youre a parent, this may be keeping you up at night. I can only speak from my experience, but my plan to share the information once I knew everything and to tell my three children, then ages 19, 15 and 10, at the same time pretty much blew up in my face and caused them a great deal of painnot what I was going for, to be honest. I know the desire to protect our children is instinctive and strong. But, dear ones, there is no protecting them from this news. Withholding information likely may backfire, and your kids will know something is wrong anyway. So be honest with them because even though youre the patient, your entire family will experience this disease.
Those words apply equally to how you share this news with friends and other family members, with one caveatdont be surprised if some of your friends or family members respond in unexpected ways. Cancer is frightening and unfortunately, not everyone handles news of this magnitude in sympathetic or supportive ways. I know this is an awful thing to contemplate, but its the number one thing that survivors Ive met, known, or spoken with have told me that they wished theyd known from the start.
Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer With Early Detection And Prevention
When it comes to cancer, early detection is important, but so is reducing your risk. There are several healthy lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Stay lean after menopause. Keep a healthy weight and a low amount of body fat. Eating a healthy diet can help.
Get active and sit less. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Do strength-training exercises at least two days a week.
Avoid alcohol. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman, and two drinks per day if you are a man.
Choose to breastfeed. Try to breastfeed exclusively for six months after giving birth, and continue even when other foods are introduced.
Manage hormones naturally. If you are going through menopause and trying to control the symptoms, try non-hormonal methods before turning to hormone replacement therapy.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, get regular breast cancer screening exams. Screening exams can detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. Women age 25 to 39 should consider a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women 40 and older should get an annual breast exam and a screening mammogram.
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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.
How To Explain Your Cancer Diagnosis To Loved Ones
Brandi Jones MSN-Ed, RN-BC is a board-certified registered nurse who owns Brandi Jones LLC, where she writes health and wellness blogs, articles, and education. She lives with her husband and springer spaniel and enjoys camping and tapping into her creativity in her downtime.
Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Angela Underwood’s extensive local, state, and federal healthcare and environmental news coverage includes 911 first-responder compensation policy to the Ciba-Geigy water contamination case in Toms River, NJ. Her additional health-related coverage includes death and dying, skin care, and autism spectrum disorder.
Talking to friends and family about your cancer diagnosis is not an easy task. The emotions you are feeling are most likely new and coping with the reaction of the person you are telling can add stress and anxiety about the diagnosis.
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How To Detect Cancer Early
This article was co-authored by Chris M. Matsko, MD and by wikiHow staff writer, Jessica Gibson. Dr. Chris M. Matsko is a retired physician based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With over 25 years of medical research experience, Dr. Matsko was awarded the Pittsburgh Cornell University Leadership Award for Excellence. He holds a BS in Nutritional Science from Cornell University and an MD from the Temple University School of Medicine in 2007. Dr. Matsko earned a Research Writing Certification from the American Medical Writers Association in 2016 and a Medical Writing & Editing Certification from the University of Chicago in 2017. This article has been viewed 58,229 times.
If you’ve had family members deal with cancer or you’ve been diagnosed with a precancerous condition, it’s understandable that you might want to be alert for early signs of cancer. Since the signs, severity, and growth of cancer are completely unique to each individual, it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your body. You can also talk with your doctor about doing genetic testing to determine your risk for developing a specific cancer. Being aware of your risks and monitoring potential symptoms can increase your chances of survival if the cancer is detected early.
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 you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:
- if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you’re 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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Check In With Yourself
Before discussing your health with loved ones, its important to check in with yourself. Do you need more time? How do you feel? Not knowing the answers is perfectly fine, but acknowledging where you stand is a great first step.
Journaling, writing, painting, or any other creative outlet is a great first step to practice conveying your emotions. You dont need to put your feelings into words immediately, everything comes with practice and time.
How Do I Know If Medical Malpractice Is To Blame For My Misdiagnosis
If you think your breast cancer was misdiagnosed as a result of malpractice, consider scheduling a free consultation with a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice cases. They should be able to determine if you are qualified and can give you more information about the process based on your individual case.
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Benefits And Risks Of Screenings
When and how often to have a breast screening test is a choice you must make. Different expert groups do not fully agree on the best timing for screening.
Before having a mammogram, talk to your provider about the pros and cons. Ask about:
- Your risk for breast cancer.
- Whether screening decreases your chance of dying from breast cancer.
- Whether there is any harm from breast cancer screening, such as side effects from testing or overtreatment of cancer when it’s discovered.
Risks of screenings can include:
- False-positive results. This occurs when a test shows cancer when there is none. This can lead to having more tests that also have risks. It can also cause anxiety. You may be more likely to have a false-positive result if you are younger, have a family history of breast cancer, have had breast biopsies in the past, or take hormones.
- False-negative results. These are tests that come back normal even though there is cancer. Women who have false-negative results do not know they have breast cancer and delay treatment.
- Exposure to radiation is a risk factor for breast cancer. Mammograms expose your breasts to radiation.
- Overtreatment. Mammograms and MRIs may find slow-growing cancers. These are cancers that may not shorten your life. At this time, it is not possible to know which cancers will grow and spread, so when cancer is found it is usually treated. Treatment can cause serious side effects.
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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Breast Cancer Facts Doctors Might Not Tell You
Florida real estate agent Sondra Burwick learned in 1996 that she had ductal carcinoma in situ in her right breast. DCIS, also called stage 0 cancer, starts and usually stays in the milk ducts. These days, doctors call it pre-cancer and donât always treat it. But Burwickâs surgeon said she needed a double mastectomy: surgery to remove both breasts, including the healthy one.
Burwick knew there had to be more options. She talked to other doctors. She read everything she could about breast cancer. In the end, she settled on lumpectomy and radiation, still common treatments for DCIS.
Burwickâs advice? Donât be afraid to get a second opinion, even if your doctor doesnât mention or recommend it. âBreast cancer isnât a medical emergency,â she says. âYou have time to breathe, think, and talk to other people before you decide what to do.â
Here are some other key facts about breast cancer your doctor might not tell you about:
Establishing A Breast Cancer Healthcare Team
Patients should form a care team to ensure complete care is provided upon receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Whether it is through emotional support or medical procedures, establishing a team that can help a patient’s treatment and recovery journey from all angles is essential in the process. Members of this team can include:
- Primary care doctor
- Plastic surgeon
- Patient navigator
This team of individuals can provide quality care, whether it be through counseling or medical procedures, along with the comfort that patients will need during a critical time in their lives. If a patient must undergo a double mastectomy to prevent the cancer from spreading, post-cancer treatment such as breast reconstruction surgery may be necessary and may require another doctor and specialist. Depending on the severity of the prognosis, a team of palliative care or spiritual support providers may be needed throughout the process to help support both patients and their families.
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Do Not Go On The Internet
Do not go on the Internet. I mean it. Stop searching right now because this will only fuel the fear, anxiety, and sadness youre already experiencing. And, so much of the information thats out there is utter crap. I know the urge to research is strong, but for right now, trust me, the Internet isnt your friend or your doctor. Instead of trolling around online, ask your doctor or nurse navigator for resources and support groups to help you process your diagnosis in a reasonable way. Ill also list several websites below that I found helpful as I went through treatment.
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:
- Age. Your risk for developing breast cancer increases as you age. Most invasive breast cancers are found in women over age 55 years.
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol use disorder raises your risk.
- Having dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue makes mammograms hard to read. It also increases your risk for breast cancer.
- Gender. White women are
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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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.
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.
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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.