If You Feel A Lump Does It Mean You Have Breast Cancer
Only 20% of the breast lumps are cancerous. Also, no doctor bases a cancer diagnosis on a simple self-examination. There are other sophisticated diagnostic tools such as mammography and biopsy that determine whether or not you have breast cancer.
I hope this blog helped you understand the importance of breast self-examination at home. Plus, you now know the necessary steps for how to do your breast self-check every month.
If you found this breast self-exam guide useful, please share it with your friends and family. Also, dont forget to download the instructional breast cancer self-exam PDF for free!
With Insights Into The Effect Of Breast Cancer On Black Women
This article is part of Breast Cancer and Black Women, a destination in our Health Divide series.
A diagnosis of breast cancer is life-changing, but it doesnt have to be life-threatening.
While breast cancer can be deadly for all women if not diagnosed at an early stage, people have remarkable outcomes when diagnosed early. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Compared to White women, Black women are less often diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, when it’s highly treatable. They also more often receive a diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer that requires urgent treatment.
Early detection and prevention are the keys to turning these statistics around.
This article will discuss the role of mammograms, self-examinations, ultrasounds, and other tests in the diagnosis of breast cancer and provide insights into the effect of breast cancer on Black women.
How Much Do Tamoxifen And Raloxifene Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Multiple studies have shown that both tamoxifen and raloxifene can reduce the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer in healthy postmenopausal women who are at high risk of developing the disease. Tamoxifen lowered the risk by 50 percent. Raloxifene lowered the risk by 38 percent. Overall, the combined results of these studies showed that taking tamoxifen or raloxifene daily for five years reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by at least one-third. In one trial directly comparing tamoxifen with raloxifene, raloxifene was found to be slightly less effective than tamoxifen for preventing breast cancer.
Both tamoxifen and raloxifene have been approved for use to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease. Tamoxifen is approved for use in both premenopausal women and postmenopausal women . Raloxifene is approved for use only in postmenopausal women.
Less common but more serious side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include blood clots to the lungs or legs. Other serious side effects of tamoxifen are an increased risk for cataracts and endometrial cancers. Other common, less serious shared side effects of tamoxifen and raloxifene include hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
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Imaging Tests Have Risks And Costs
The biggest risk is that imaging tests expose you to radiation. The effects of radiation add up over your lifetime and can increase your risk of cancer.
Imaging tests can also show a false positive. This means a test shows something unusual, but after more testing, is not a problem. False positives can lead to stress, more tests, and a delay in getting needed treatment.
Imaging tests can also add thousands of dollars to your treatment costs. Not all insurance companies pay for them for early-stage breast cancer.
Taking Charge: Screening For Breast Cancer
When health professionals talk about screening for a disease, they mean using some sort of test to see if a person has a particular condition. The purpose of screening is to detect and treat cancer earlier, because, in general, early treatment improves the chances of survival. There are several screening tests for breast cancer. Which ones you use depend on your age and other risk factors.
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Oncotype Dx Breast Dcis Score Test
Oncotype DX for DCIS can predict the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery. The results of this test may help you and your treatment team decide whether youre likely to benefit from radiotherapy.
Its not routinely used on the NHS as theres less evidence of its benefits for people with DCIS. Some private healthcare providers may cover the cost and you can also pay for the test yourself. For more information, talk to your treatment team.
How To Check Yourself For Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the many common forms of cancer that affect women. Statistics show that 1 in 8 women in the US will develop cancer in her lifetime. While you should have a checkup for proper diagnosis, there are steps that you can take to check yourself. Here are the steps and physical signs to look out for when checking for breast cancer.
Step 1: Assess Your Breasts Appearance
Start the assessment by standing in front of the mirror naked from the waist up. Straighten your shoulders and put your arms on your hips. Look for signs of changes such as size, shape, and color. Watch out for any form of distortion or swelling. If nothing is out of the ordinary, note it down.
Here are signs to inform your doctor about:
- Bulging or dimpling skin
- Nipple placement has it moved? Is it inverted?
Step 2: Raise Your Arms
Raise both arms above your head to see if there is any difference. Watch out for any liquid that may come from your nipples. This could come out watery, milky, or in the form of yellow fluid or blood. Note this down for your doctor if this appears.
Step 3: Lie Down and Start to Feel Your Breasts
Examine your left breast with your right hand and your right breast with your left hand. Use a firm yet light touch when checking for lumps. Go in circular motions the size of a quarter in all areas of the breast. This is to check for any lumps or abnormalities. Move from top to bottom, side to side, even from your collarbone to areas in your armpit and cleavage.
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Why It Is Done
A BRCA gene test is done to find out if you have BRCA gene changes that increase your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
The results of a BRCA gene test can help you find out how high your cancer risk is. If it is high, you might decide to take steps to lower your risk. There are several things you might do, such as:
- Have checkups and tests more often.
- Have surgery to remove your breasts.
- Have surgery to remove your ovaries.
- Take medicines that may help prevent breast cancer.
If you have a family member who has breast or ovarian cancer, you may want to ask that family member to have a gene test first. If your relative’s test finds a changed BRCA gene, you and other family members can then be tested for that specific gene change. But if your family member’s test is negative, it is not likely that you carry the gene change.
Why Breast Cancer Screening Matters
The sooner breast cancer gets diagnosed, the better your odds of getting successful treatment.
That’s why itâs important to get mammograms as recommended, to be familiar with how your breasts usually look, and to report any changes to your doctor ASAP. Why?
- Breast cancer risk is up: The lifetime risk of a woman getting breast cancer in the U.S. was around 5%, or 1 in 20, in 1940. Now itâs 12%, or more than 1 in 8.
- Finding breast cancer earlier boosts your survival odds: Women who have breast cancer screening mammograms are much less likely to die from the disease. This depends on:
- The quality of the test
- Getting screened as often as you need to
- Following your treatment plan if you get diagnosed
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How Are Breast Tumors Tested For Her2
Women newly diagnosed with invasive breast cancers should be tested for HER2.
A biopsy or surgery sample of the cancer is usually tested with either immunohistochemical stains or Fluorescent in situ hybridization .
See Testing Biopsy and Cytology Specimens for Cancer and Understanding Your Pathology Report: Breast Cancerto get more details about these tests.
Who Should Be Tested For Brca
While BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations may increase your odds of developing breast cancer, your odds of having either mutation are pretty small. An estimated 0.25% of the general population carries a mutated BRCA gene, or about one out of every 400 people.
For some people, though, the chances of having a BRCA gene mutation are much higher. Genes are inherited, which is why knowing your family history is important when determining breast cancer risks. If one of your parents has a BRCA mutation, you have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutated gene.
Odds can also vary depending on a persons ethnicity. For example, people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a 2.5% chance of inheriting a BRCA mutation, or about 10 times the rate of the general population.
Because the overall odds are so low, most experts recommend that only people with a heightened risk get tested for BRCA mutations. Likewise, insurance companies often only cover genetic counseling and testing for individuals who are at high risk. A person could be considered at high risk for BRCA mutations if they have a family history of:
There are also other gene mutations besides BRCA that could increase the risk of breast cancer. The most prominent of these is PALB2. As with BRCA1 and BRCA2, testing for other genetic mutations is recommended only if you are at high risk for that particular gene.
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What Do The Test Results Mean
Some gene expression testing can help predict which women will most likely benefit from chemotherapy after breast surgery. Hormone therapy is a standard treatment for hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, but its not always clear when to use chemotherapy. These tests can help guide that decision. Still, these tests cannot tell any one woman for certain if her cancer will come back with or without chemotherapy.
These tests continue to be studied in large clinical trials to better understand how and when to best use them. In the meantime, ask your doctor if these tests might be useful for you.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Cardoso F, vant Veer LJ, Bogaerts J, Slaets L, Viale G, Delaloge S et al. 70-Gene Signature as an Aid to Treatment Decisions in Early-Stage Breast Cancer. N Engl J Med. 2016 375:717-29.
Gnant M, Filipits M, Dubsky P, et al. Predicting risk for late metastasis: The PAM50 risk of recurrence score after 5 years of endocrine therapy in postmenopausal women with HR+ early breast cancer: A study on 1,478 patients for the ABCSG-8 trial. Ann Oncol. 2013 24: iii29-iii37.
Wallden B, Storhoff J, Nielsen T, et al. Development and verification of the PAM50-based Prosigna breast cancer gene signature assay. BMC Med Genomics. 2015 8:54.
Who Gets Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women other than skin cancer. Increasing age is the most common risk factor for developing breast cancer, with 66% of breast cancer patients being diagnosed after the age of 55.
In the US, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer, and it’s the leading cause of cancer death among women ages 35 to 54. Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers occur in women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease. The majority of breast cancer cases are “sporadic, meaning there is no definitive gene mutation.
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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.
What Do Lumps In My Breast Mean
Many conditions can cause lumps in the breast, including cancer. But most breast lumps are caused by other medical conditions. The two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.
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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.
What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer
The most common types of breast cancer are:
- Infiltrating ductal carcinoma. This cancer starts in the milk ducts of the breast. It then breaks through the wall of the duct and invades the surrounding tissue in the breast. This is the most common form of breast cancer, accounting for 80% of cases.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ is ductal carcinoma in its earliest stage, or precancerous . In situ refers to the fact that the cancer hasn’t spread beyond its point of origin. In this case, the disease is confined to the milk ducts and has not invaded nearby breast tissue. If untreated, ductal carcinoma in situ may become invasive cancer. It is almost always curable.
- Infiltrating lobular carcinoma. This cancer begins in the lobules of the breast where breast milk is produced, but has spread to surrounding tissues in the breast. It accounts for 10 to 15% of breast cancers. This cancer can be more difficult to diagnose with mammograms.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ is a marker for cancer that is only in the lobules of the breast. It isn’t a true cancer, but serves as a marker for the increased risk of developing breast cancer later, possibly in both or either breasts. Thus, it is important for women with lobular carcinoma in situ to have regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.
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How Does It Work
The test is done on a small amount of breast cancer tissue already removed .
The tissue is sent to a laboratory in the USA, where the test is carried out. The test looks at groups of genes found in breast cancer.
The results are given separately from your pathology report and are sent to your specialist within 10 to 14 days.
If your specialist has recommended you have hormone therapy before surgery, the test must be done on the tissue removed by a core biopsy, before you start hormone therapy.
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What Happens After The Local Breast Cancer Treatment
Following local breast cancer treatment, the treatment team will determine the likelihood that the cancer will recur outside the breast. This team usually includes a medical oncologist, a specialist trained in using medicines to treat breast cancer. The medical oncologist, who works with the surgeon, may advise the use of the drugs like tamoxifen or anastrozole or possibly chemotherapy. These treatments are used in addition to, but not in place of, local breast cancer treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy.
After treatment for breast cancer, it is especially important for a woman to continue to do a monthly breast examination. Regular examinations will help you detect local recurrences. Early signs of recurrence can be noted in the incision area itself, the opposite breast, the axilla , or supraclavicular region .
Maintaining your follow-up schedule with your physician is also necessary so problems can be detected when treatment can be most effective. Your health care provider will also be able to answer any questions you may have about breast self-examination after the following procedures.