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How Would You Know If You Have Breast Cancer

Benefits Of Telling Your Employer About Your Cancer

How to tell your kids you have breast cancer

Here are some good reasons to tell your boss about your diagnosis of breast cancer:

  • You will be protected from job discrimination by the ADA law if your boss is informed about your diagnosis.
  • You may need extra sick leave for cancer treatments and recovery. Your boss can connect you with your Human Resources office so you can receive additional sick leave hours and FMLA benefits.
  • Your treatment side effects may temporarily affect your job performance, so ask your boss for help or reasonable accommodations.

How To Tell Your Parents

Nothing is more devastating to a parent than learning their child is sick. Telling your parents about your diagnosis may be difficult, but its a necessary conversation to have.

Plan the talk for a time when you know you wont be interrupted. You might want to practice having the discussion ahead of time with your partner or a sibling.

Be clear about how you feel and what you need from your parents. Pause every now and then to confirm that theyre clear on what youve said, and to ask if they have any questions.

Key Points About Telling Your Employer

Although it may be difficult, it is in your best interest to tell your boss about your cancer diagnosis. You will get job protection, extra sick leave, and reasonable accommodations to help you work during treatment for breast cancer.

  • Prepare yourself, stay calm, and have the conversation in confidence.
  • Keep a paper trail of all documents relating to your sick leave, medical certification, company policies, and be sure to save copies of any emails or notes that you took along the way.
  • If you are uncertain and want professional advice about how to talk to your boss, speak with an oncology social worker, counselor, or patient advocate about work issues.
  • Keep the lines of communication open between you and your employer. They may become one of your great supporters.

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There Are Three Screening Methods

There are three types of tests that may be used to screen for breast cancer.

Clinical Breast Exam A CBE is a physical exam of your breast and underarm area by a health care provider. Its often done during your regular medical check-up. A CBE should be performed by someone whos trained in the techniquenot all health care providers have this training. If your doctor doesnt offer you a CBE at your check-up and you would like one, ask if he or she can perform one or refer you to someone who can.

MammogramMammography uses X-rays to make images of the breast . While some tumors in the breast are aggressive and grow quickly, most grow slowly. In some cases a tumor may have been growing for as long as 10 years before it creates a lump large enough to feel. Mammography can find cancers early, before you would have noticed any signs or symptoms. Thats why its often used as a screening test. It can also be used as a follow-up test . If youve noticed a change in your breast and are getting a mammogram, tell the technologist what you noticed before your exam. If you evernotice a change in your breasteven if youve had a mammogram recently and had normal resultsget checked out by a doctor asap. And if youve never had a mammogram before, heres everything you wanted to know .

What Are The Stages Of Breast Cancer

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There are two different staging systems for breast cancer. One is called anatomic staging while the other is prognostic staging. The anatomic staging is defined by the areas of the body where the breast cancer is found and helps to define appropriate treatment. The prognostic staging helps medical professionals communicate how likely a patient is to be cured of the cancer assuming that all appropriate treatment is given.

The anatomic staging system is as follows:

Stage 0 breast disease is when the disease is localized to the milk ducts .

Stage I breast cancer is smaller than 2 cm across and hasn’t spread anywhere including no involvement in the lymph nodes.

Stage II breast cancer is one of the following:

  • The tumor is less than 2 cm across but has spread to the underarm lymph nodes .
  • The tumor is between 2 and 5 cm .
  • The tumor is larger than 5 cm and has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm .

Stage III breast cancer is also called “locally advanced breast cancer.” The tumor is any size with cancerous lymph nodes that adhere to one another or to surrounding tissue . Stage IIIB breast cancer is a tumor of any size that has spread to the skin, chest wall, or internal mammary lymph nodes .

Stage IV breast cancer is defined as a tumor, regardless of size, that has spread to areas away from the breast, such as bones, lungs, liver or brain.

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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.

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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Types Of Breast Cancer

There are several different types of breast cancer, which develop in different parts of the breast.

Breast cancer is often divided into either:

  • non-invasive breast cancer found in the ducts of the breast which has not spread into the breast tissue surrounding the ducts. Non-invasive breast cancer is usually found during a mammogram and rarely shows as a breast lump.
  • invasive breast cancer where the cancer cells have spread through the lining of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer.

Other, less common types of breast cancer include:

  • invasive lobular breast cancer
  • inflammatory breast cancer

It’s possible for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually through the blood or the axillary lymph nodes. These are small lymphatic glands that filter bacteria and cells from the mammary gland.

If this happens, it’s known as secondary, or metastatic, breast cancer.

How Would You Know If You Have Breast Cancer

How Did I Know I Had Breast Cancer?

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What To Look Out For

Breast cancer can have a number of symptoms, but for many women it will appear asa lump or thickening in the breast tissue. This may be in the breast itself, upper chest or armpit.

You might find it easier to check yourself for lumps in the shower or bath and this will help ensure its something you do on a regular basis. Raise your arm above your head to stretch the breast tissue and using the palm of your hand feel around the breast, not forgetting your collar bone, and under your arm.

Check whether you can see any of the following:

Palliative And Supportive Care

Palliative and supportive care focuses on symptom control and support. Its an extremely important part of the care and treatment for many people with secondary breast cancer and can significantly improve quality of life for them and their families.

People often think of palliative care as being associated with end-of-life treatment. However, many people value having it at any stage of their illness, alongside their medical treatment, to help prevent and relieve symptoms such as pain or fatigue. It can also help with the emotional, social and spiritual effects of secondary breast cancer.

You can be referred by your specialist team, GP or breast care nurse depending on your situation. Some people may be able to refer themselves.

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Talking To Your Childrens School About Your Breast Cancer

School is an important part of your childrens life and the teachers and other children can help provide stability and support at a time of change at home. Interacting with your childrens school may feel daunting, but by working with the school youll enable staff to plan and provide the help and support youd prefer.

Talking To Children And Teenagers

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A cancer diagnosis can affect an entire family. Children and teenagers may experience a range of emotions, from fear and guilt to loneliness and isolation. Trying to talk openly about your cancer can really help.

What should I tell my children?

How much you tell them will depend on their age and level of maturity. Very young children do not understand illness and need a simple reason why their parent or friend is sick and has to go to hospital regularly. Most children over 10 years can take in fairly full explanations.

Its good to talk about cancer before an obvious change occurs, for example before hair falls out due to treatment.

Reassure them that your illness is not their fault. Even if they dont show it, children may feel that they are somehow to blame.

Why its best for you to tell your children

Its hard to keep cancer a secret, especially if someone in the family home is affected. Even very young children can detect changes in family life, such as tension, unusual comings and goings and changes in physical appearance.

If you talk about cancer to them, they will get accurate information and have the chance to ask any questions and share how theyre feeling. This is better than them finding out the truth from someone else or overhearing a private conversation at home or at school, especially as children can worry that the situation is far worse than it really is.

If you find it hard, you could ask a nurse at the hospital for support and advice on what to say.

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How To Tell The People In Your Life That You Have Breast Cancer

Keep it simple, and be prepared for questions.Many patients would rather eat their socks than have to tell someone else that they have breast cancer. But saying the words not only helps you adjust to the idea and affirms that you’re dealing with it it also provides those around you with vital information.

Take your time“It’s important to share this information with the people closest to you, but you don’t have to do it all at onceand you don’t have to tell everyone,” says Robin Hershkowitz, program director for women’s cancers at CancerCare, a national nonprofit support services group based in New York City.

How you do it will vary, and there’s no need to tell everyone in person that takes too much time and energy. “Take time to prioritize who are the most important people to tell first,” says Hershkowitz. “You can tell them to share the news with others by phone or e-mail, or you can do it yourself.”

Telling your childrenThe sooner you inform your kids that you have breast cancer, the better, say experts. Just keep the explanations simple and age-appropriate. “Kids are intuitive, and they’ll notice a change in the household,” says Hershkowitz. “So tell them directly: ‘Mom has cancer.’ Use the word. Let them hear it from you, and explain it. It’ll be much less scary than what they’ll make up in their heads about what’s going on.” If they have questions, answer them. If not, move on.

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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.

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How How Does The Procedure Work

Before the examination begins, a radioactive substance is produced in a machine called a cyclotron and attached, or tagged, to a natural body compound, most commonly glucose, but sometimes water or ammonia. Once this substance is administered to the patient, the radioactivity localizes in the appropriate areas of the body and is detected by the PET scanner.

Different colors or degrees of brightness on a PET image represent different levels of tissue or organ function. For example, because healthy tissue uses glucose for energy, it accumulates some of the tagged glucose, which will show up on the PET images. However, cancerous tissue, which uses more glucose than normal tissue, will accumulate more of the substance and appear brighter than normal tissue on the PET images.

Can You Have Breast Cancer With No Visible Symptoms

The risk factor for breast cancer you may not know you have

Yes. Many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer say they didnt notice any symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screenings are so strongly advised.

We recommend that women consider starting annual screening mammograms at age 40. But depending on your risk factors, overall health and personal preferences, you and your doctor can work together to decide whether screenings should begin earlier, later or at different intervals.

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Your Breast Shape Has Changed

There are many different reasons your breasts change their shape over the years, whether it’s due to pregnancy or your age. Be aware of these changes and make sure to bring them up to your doctor, though, because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it could also be a subtle warning sign for breast cancer. And for more helpful information, .

If You Notice A Change In Your Breasts

If you find or feel a lump or notice any other change to your breasts, its important to get checked by your GP as soon as possible. Book an emergency appointment with your doctor, who may refer you to a breast clinic where you will be seen within two weeks.

Many symptoms of breast cancer, including breast lumps, are non cancerous and caused by normal breast changes. But it remains vital that you pay attention to your body and seek help if you notice anything that isnt normal for you.

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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.

Other Causes Of Pain And Tenderness

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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

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