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How To Treat Breast Cancer

How Long Does Breast Cancer Neutropenia Last

How to Treat Stage I (1) Breast Cancer

How severe neutropenia is and how long it lasts varies. It partly depends on the kind of chemotherapy youâre getting, Pappacena says.

âMost people see their lowest points of neutropenia somewhere around the middle of their treatment cycle,â Pappacena says. âIf youâre getting chemo every 4 weeks, then your neutropenia will usually be at its lowest around 2 weeks after the last treatment. It definitely can get worse as treatment continues.â

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treatment

Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon and aggressive type of breast cancer caused by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin.

All IBC cases are classified as at least stage 3 breast cancer. If the cancer is metastatic , its considered stage 4.

Treatments for IBC depend on what stage the cancer is in.

What Is Stage 1 Breast Cancer

Stage 1 breast cancer is the earliest stage of breast cancer. Experts divide it into stages 1A and 1B, based on tumor size and spread to lymph nodes.

To understand how these subcategories are defined, its helpful to break down the TNM system of classification.

In stage 1 breast cancer

  • The tumor size is T0 or T1.
  • The lymph node spread is N0 or N1.
  • The metastasis is M0.

The reason for this classification is that the tumor remains small in stage 1. If there is any lymph node spread, it is microscopic.

Also, because the tumor is small and localized, there wont be any metastasis, or spread to other parts of the body.

Stage 1 breast cancer is then further subdivided into stages 1A and 1B.

  • gene mutations

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Signs Of Breast Cancer That Arent A Lump

The information on this page was reviewed and approved by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on January 31, 2022.

For decades, the medical community and the media have waged an effective awareness campaign about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, educating the public about the importance of diligently monitoring their breasts for lumps. And the tactic has worked. Early detection has contributed to a 38 percent decline in breast cancer deaths in women from 1992 to 2018, according to the National Cancer Institute. While thats an important step forward, many other abnormalities that may also indicate breast cancer are lesser known and discussed. Some, then, may be led to assume that no lump and no tumor mean no cancer, but that may be a dangerous conclusion to draw.

When most people think about breast cancer symptoms, they think of breast lumps. But doctors say visual changes may be especially key in helping detect breast cancer early. You may notice some of these changes just by changing the way you look at your reflection in the mirror, says Cynthia Lynch, MD, Medical Oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® , Phoenix.

In this article, well discuss the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, including:

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  • A breast lump
  • Lump or swelling in the armpit
  • Mysterious change in the shape or size of the breast
  • Nipple discharge thats not breast milk
  • Peeling on nipple or breast
  • Red, pitted skin over the whole breast
  • Scaling on nipple or breast
  • Swelling in parts of or the entirety of the breast

Breast cancer patients are usually women, although on rare occasions men can also contract breast cancer. Most forms of breast cancer are found as a lump or breast tumor that can be felt within the breast. In conventional treatments, these are removed in surgery, likely with a mastectomy . Luckily, unlike other forms of cancer, breast cancer can be easily detected and treated in the early stages.

  • Triple-negative breast cancer
  • Tubular carcinoma

Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common type of breast cancer and is found in the glands of ducts and lobules.

Paget disease of the nipple: This is a rare cancer that forms in the ducts of the breast and spreads to the areola and the skin of the nipple.

Inflammatory breast cancer: This is an invasive form of cancer. Its found in only a small percentage of breast cancer patients

Angiosarcoma: Another rare type of breast cancer, this cancer arises in the cells that line blood vessels or lymph nodes.

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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.

Thinking About Stopping Treatment

Many people reach a point when they decide not to have any more cancer treatment. This is often because the side effects from treatment are significantly reducing their quality of life, and they prefer to have supportive care and symptom control only.

This is never an easy decision to make. Sometimes people feel under pressure to have any treatment offered. Family and friends may also find it hard to accept their loved one has stopped having cancer treatment.

Its a very personal decision, so if you dont want to carry on with treatment, try not to feel guilty about something that you feel is the right step for you.

Whatever you decide it shouldnt make any difference to the care and support available to you.

If youd like to talk to someone about any aspect of your treatment and care, you can on 0808 800 6000.

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Breast Examination After Treatment For Breast Cancer

After surgery

The incision line may be thick, raised, red and possibly tender for several months after surgery. Remember to examine the entire incision line.

If there is redness in areas away from the scar, contact your physician. It is not unusual to experience brief discomforts and sensations in the breast or nipple area .

At first, you may not know how to interpret what you feel, but soon you will become familiar with what is now normal for you.

After breast reconstruction

Following breast reconstruction, breast examination for the reconstructed breast is done exactly the same way as for the natural breast. If an implant was used for the reconstruction, press firmly inward at the edges of the implant to feel the ribs beneath. If your own tissue was used for the reconstruction, understand that you may feel some numbness and tightness in your breast. In time, some feeling in your breasts may return.

After radiation therapy

After radiation therapy, you may notice some changes in the breast tissue. The breast may look red or sunburned and may become irritated or inflamed. Once therapy is stopped, the redness will disappear and the breast will become less inflamed or irritated. At times, the skin can become more inflamed for a few days after treatment and then gradually improve after a few weeks. The pores in the skin over the breast also may become larger than usual.

What to do

A Family History Of Breast Cancer And Other Factors Increase The Risk Of Breast Cancer

How Do Doctors Diagnose and Treat Breast Cancer?

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be at risk for breast cancer.

Risk factors for breast cancer include the following:

  • Taking hormones such as estrogen combined with progestin for symptoms of menopause.
  • Treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest.
  • Obesity.
  • Older age is the main risk factor for most cancers. The chance of getting cancer increases as you get older.

    NCI’sBreast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool uses a woman’s risk factors to estimate her risk for breast cancer during the next five years and up to age 90. This online tool is meant to be used by a health care provider. For more information on breast cancer risk, call 1-800-4-CANCER.

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    Considering Complementary And Alternative Methods

    You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasnt mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.

    Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctors medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be harmful.

    Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known about the method, which can help you make an informed decision.

    How Breast Cancer Pain May Feel

    While many types of breast pain are not cancerous, pain in only one breast may be cause for calling your doctor. Benign breast pain is often on both sides.

    Breast cancer pain can be persistent and very specific, usually hurting in just one spot. It is important to remember that breast cancer can be present in your breast before it causes pain. If you have other symptoms of breast cancer, such as nipple retraction , sudden swelling of your breast, or sudden skin changes, consult your healthcare provider for a clinical breast exam.

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    Ovarian Ablation Or Suppression

    In women who have not yet experienced the menopause, oestrogen is produced by the ovaries.

    Ovarian ablation or suppression stops the ovaries working and producing oestrogen.

    Ablation can be done using surgery or radiotherapy. It permanently stops the ovaries from working and means you’ll experience the menopause early.

    Ovarian suppression involves using a medicine called goserelin, which is a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonist .

    Your periods will stop while you’re taking it, although they should start again once your treatment is complete.

    If you’re approaching the menopause , your periods may not start again after you stop taking goserelin.

    Goserelin comes as an injection you have once a month.

    Individualized Breast Cancer Treatment For Older Adults

    Side effects of breast cancer treatment

    Tran says her groups approach to dealing with breast cancer in patients of any age is highly individualized. We recommend both the treatments and the order in which the patient will receive them, which is very important. For instance, radiation is not common before surgery, since it makes wound healing more difficult.

    She notes that most cancers are found early, and generally surgery is the first step in treatment. But for cancers that are more advanced when they are diagnosed, starting out with chemotherapy can offer some advantages.

    In cases where the cancer is advanced, chemotherapy is often done first to shrink the tumor. Another benefit of doing chemotherapy first is the tumors response to the chemotherapy gives us information on your prognosis, and surgery afterward can confirm those findings.

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    You Notice Changes That Arent Related To Your Boobs At All

    Back pain, neck pain, and unexplained weight loss were all listed as other breast cancer symptoms that led women to seek medical care and ultimately get diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the study published in Cancer Epidemiology.

    Thats because breast cancer can spread before its caught, causing symptoms in body parts that have nothing to do with your boobs. Its not possible to identify every possible sign of breast cancer so when it comes to early detection, you are your own best weapon, says Dr. Denduluri. Overall, any persistent, noticeable change should be checked by a doctor.

    How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed

    During your regular physical examination, your doctor will take a thorough personal and family medical history. He or she will also perform and/or order one or more of the following:

    • Breast examination: During the breast exam, the doctor will carefully feel the lump and the tissue around it. Breast cancer usually feels different than benign lumps.
    • Digital mammography: An X-ray test of the breast can give important information about a breast lump. This is an X-ray image of the breast and is digitally recorded into a computer rather than on a film. This is generally the standard of care .
    • Ultrasonography: This test uses sound waves to detect the character of a breast lump whether it is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass . This may be performed along with the mammogram.

    Based on the results of these tests, your doctor may or may not request a biopsy to get a sample of the breast mass cells or tissue. Biopsies are performed using surgery or needles.

    After the sample is removed, it is sent to a lab for testing. A pathologist a doctor who specializes in diagnosing abnormal tissue changes views the sample under a microscope and looks for abnormal cell shapes or growth patterns. When cancer is present, the pathologist can tell what kind of cancer it is and whether it has spread beyond the ducts or lobules .

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    Treatment For Breast Cancer May Cause Side Effects

    For information about side effects that begin during treatment for cancer, see our Side Effects page.

    Some treatments for breast cancer may cause side effects that continue or appear months or years after treatment has ended. These are called late effects.

    Late effects of radiation therapy are not common, but may include:

    • Inflammation of the lung after radiation therapy to the breast, especially when chemotherapy is given at the same time.
    • Arm lymphedema, especially when radiation therapy is given after lymph node dissection.
    • In women younger than 45 years who receive radiation therapy to the chest wall after mastectomy, there may be a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast.

    Late effects of chemotherapy depend on the drugs used, but may include:

    Late effects of targeted therapy with trastuzumab, lapatinib, or pertuzumab may include:

    • Heart problems such as heart failure.

    What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer Treatment

    Treating Breast Cancer in 5 Days

    Some treatments remove or destroy the disease within the breast and nearby tissues, such as lymph nodes. These include:

    Surgery. For most people, the first step is to take out the tumor. An operation called lumpectomy removes only the part of your breast that has cancer. Itâs sometimes called breast-conserving surgery. In a mastectomy, doctors remove the whole breast. There are different types of mastectomies and lumpectomies.

    Radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy waves to kill cancer cells. Most women under age 70 who have a lumpectomy get radiation, too. Doctors also might recommend this method if the disease has spread. It helps destroy any cancer cells that the surgeon couldnât remove. Radiation can come from a machine outside your body, or you might have tiny seeds that give off radiation placed inside your breast where the tumor was.

    Other treatments destroy or control cancer cells all over your body:

    Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. You take the medicines as pills or through an IV. Most people get it after surgery to kill any cancer cells left behind. Doctors also prescribe it before surgery to make tumors smaller. Chemo works well against cancer, but it also can harm healthy cells.

    Immunotherapy uses your own immune system to target cancer. The drugs atezolizumab and sacituzumab govitecan-hziy have been approved to treat triple-negative breast cancer that has spread.

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    Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Neoadjuvant Her2

    With neoadjuvant chemotherapy, all the chemotherapy to treat the breast cancer is usually given before surgery . If the tumor doesnt get smaller with the first combination of chemotherapy drugs, other combinations can be tried.

    If your tumor is HER2-positive, you may get neoadjuvant trastuzumab and neoadjuvant pertuzumab , but not at the same time as the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin .

    If your tumor is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and HER2-negative with a high risk of recurrence, you may get neoadjuvant pembrolizumab . Pembrolizumab is an immunotherapy drug.

    Treatments For Breast Cancer Neutropenia

    The main treatments that doctors use to help shorten neutropenia and protect you from infection are medications called G-CSFs . You usually get them by injection about 24 hours after a dose of chemotherapy.

    âIf we are giving chemotherapy that has a moderate or high risk of leaving you neutropenic for many days, we will give you G-CSF medication after chemotherapy to bump up your white blood cells,â Chen says.

    For most people who get chemotherapy that can cause neutropenia, doctors prescribe long-acting G-CSF medications. With long-acting G-CSF medication, you only have to have one injection after each chemotherapy treatment. You can either go back to the cancer center where you got your chemotherapy for your injection the next day, or you can self-inject the medication at home .

    A newer option for delivering long-acting G-CSFs is called Onpro. It comes in a kit with a prefilled syringe inside a blister pack that is applied to your skin . Your health care provider prepares an area of skin and applies the on-body injector pack. They will insert a short needle that delivers the medication under your skin about 27 hours later.

    âIf you are uncomfortable with using a needle yourself and donât want to have to go back to the doctorâs office the next day for an injection, this is a good option,â Chen says.

    There are also shorter-acting G-CSF medications that need multiple injections between doses of chemotherapy.

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