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Is Breast Cancer Painful In Early Stages

How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed

Early Stage Breast Cancer: Making Treatment Decisions

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 .

Who Could Get Breast Cancer

The main factors of the disease are hereditary, features of the reproductive system, and concomitant health disorders. By the way, the condition of the mammary glands is directly related to the hormonal background of a woman. In turn, the hormonal balance of the body depends on lifestyle, bad habits, stress, ecology, etc.

More Information About The Tnm Staging System

The T category describes the original tumor:

  • TX means the tumor can’t be assessed.
  • T0 means there isn’t any evidence of the primary tumor.
  • Tis means the cancer is “in situ” .
  • T1, T2, T3, T4: These numbers are based on the size of the tumor and the extent to which it has grown into neighboring breast tissue. The higher the T number, the larger the tumor and/or the more it may have grown into the breast tissue.

The N category describes whether or not the cancer has reached nearby lymph nodes:

  • NX means the nearby lymph nodes can’t be assessed, for example, if they were previously removed.
  • N0 means nearby lymph nodes do not contain cancer.
  • N1, N2, N3: These numbers are based on the number of lymph nodes involved and how much cancer is found in them. The higher the N number, the greater the extent of the lymph node involvement.

The M category tells whether or not there is evidence that the cancer has traveled to other parts of the body:

  • MX means metastasis can’t be assessed.
  • M0 means there is no distant metastasis.
  • M1 means that distant metastasis is present.

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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.


Changes In Nipple Skin


If you notice any significant changes around the nipple skin, they may signal early symptoms of breast cancer.

One thing you should know is that the skin around the nipples isnt exactly smooth. Its rough and contains small white bumps.

Yes, theyre completely natural!

So the question is what do breast cancer nipples look like?

You may notice sudden redness or irritation around nipples resembling eczema. The skin would be scaly and dry in texture. If the itchiness stays even after weeks, its time to get serious.

The skin around your nipples would also feel tender and sensitive. There may be a burning sensation or tingling.

Many women also experience pitted nipple skin just like an orange peel with lots of pores.

Lastly, a serious warning breast cancer sign is that the color of your nipples would turn purple or red.

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Pain As A Side Effect Of Cancer

When the cancer itself causes pain, its often due to a tumor. As a tumor grows, it may put pressure on the surrounding area. Tumors that press on nerves, bones or organs may result in pain.

Two common types of pain caused by cancerous tumors are:

  • Spinal cord compression pain. This condition occurs when tumors grow near the spine and constrain spinal cord nerves, leading to pain in the back or neck that is often intense. Other symptoms may include pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Sudden movements such as coughing or sneezing may aggravate this type of pain. Spinal cord compression is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment to shrink the tumoroften using radiation, steroids, surgery, or a combination of these therapies. Without treatment, theres a risk of serious complications, including paralysis.
  • Bone pain. When cancer develops in the bones or spreads to them, it weakens them and damages nearby nerves, causing pain. This type of pain may be alleviated with pain medications, treatments to fight the cancer, and drugs or therapies to strengthen the affected bones.

What Are The Stages Of Breast Cancer

To identify what stage cancer you have, a healthcare professional will note the different signs of breast cancer.

In the beginning, the abnormal cell growth is restricted and has not yet spread elsewhere.

But as it progresses from Stage 2 to 3, it affects the lining of the breasts, nearby tissues, and lymph nodes. By Stage 4, the damage is almost irreversible and youd be on lifetime treatments.

With the best treatments at the right times, you can control the early symptoms of breast cancer and ensure you live for years!

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Early Signs Of Breast Cancer

Pinpointing breast cancer in its earliest stages isnt easy becauseare different for everyone. Sometimes there is a palpable lump or tenderness. Very often, there is neither. Generally, breast cancer shows no symptoms in the early stage.

However, there are certain changes in the breast that may indicate breast cancer in both men and women.

Whether you are a man or a woman, its important to become familiar with your breasts so you can recognize when changes occur and seek timely treatment. Know the facts and understand your risk factors for the disease, such as , by reviewing these frequently asked questions.

Living With Breast Cancer

Treatment for Early-Stage ER+ Breast Cancer

Being diagnosed with breast cancer can affect daily life in many ways, depending on what stage it’s at and what treatment you’re having.

How women cope with their diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. You can be reassured that there are several forms of support available, if you need it. For example:

  • your family and friends can be a powerful support system
  • you can communicate with other people in the same situation
  • find out as much as possible about your condition
  • don’t try to do too much or overexert yourself
  • make time for yourself

Read more about breast screening

Recommended Reading: Breast Cancer Staging And Prognosis

Metastatic Breast Cancer & Pain

Metastatic breast cancer may also cause pain. It could be from a larger tumorthese are often over two centimeters in diameteror pain in other regions of the body due to the spread of cancer. If breast cancer spreads to your bones, it may cause bone pain in your chest, or back pain with leg weakness. If cancer spreads to your brain, it may cause headaches.

If breast cancer travels to the adrenal glands, you may feel a dull back pain. If your breast cancer spreads to your liver, you could have pain in the upper right part of the abdomen and develop jaundice .

Invasive Breast Cancer Symptoms

Most breast cancers start in the ducts, or the tubes that carry milk to the nipple, or in the lobules, the little clusters of sacs where breast milk is made. Invasive breast cancer refers to breast cancer that spreads from the original site to other areas of the breast, the lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body. In these cancers that form in the ducts or lobules, invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma , the cancer spreads from the ducts or lobules to other tissue. Depending on the stage, you may notice symptoms.

Invasive breast cancer symptoms may include:

  • A lump or mass in the breast
  • Swelling of all or part of the breast, even if no lump is felt
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • A lump or swelling in the underarm lymph nodes

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What To Do If You Spot A Possible Sign Of Breast Cancer

Dont panic. If you notice a change in your breast, it doesnt necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Some of these changes may be a result of benign, or non-cancerous, breast conditions, explains Dr. Duncan.

Still, if you notice any change at all, especially one occurring in only one breast, its a good idea to contact your doctor to get treatment started right away, if necessary.

How Long Can You Live With Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Early symptoms breast cancer Royalty Free Vector Image

Many patients and caregivers wonder, is stage 4 breast cancer curable, or is stage 4 breast cancer always terminal? This can depend on many factors such as the subtype of disease and the extent of metastasis. Despite stage 4 cancer being the least likely to be cured or go in remission, many patients live for several years after a diagnosis of metastatic cancer. In rare cases, some patients will end up beating metastatic breast cancer. However, once breast cancer is in stage 4, it has spread to other tissues and organs around the body, which can make it more difficult to treat.

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Fast Five Quiz: Early

Maurie Markman, MD

Figure 1. Breast cancer, colored MRI of a 32-year-old patient. There are several malignant tumors in the left breast . This is a centrally necrotizing carcinoma, a particularly aggressive form of cancer. The tumors consist of a central core of dead cells surrounded by an outer layer of malignant cells.

Early-stage breast cancer is often asymptomatic, and pain and discomfort are typically not present. Only 5% of patients with a malignant mass present with breast pain.

When a breast lump is discovered, other signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of breast cancer include:

  • Skin dimpling or skin changes

  • Recent nipple inversion or skin change, or nipple abnormalities

  • Single-duct discharge, particularly if blood-stained

  • Axillary lump

  • Change in breast size or shape

Although skin dimpling or skin changes may occur in early-stage breast cancer, particularly inflammatory breast cancer, it is not diagnostic for breast cancer, and other causes should be ruled out.

Breathing difficulties may be indicative of metastatic breast cancer rather than early-stage disease.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

Any views expressed above are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of WebMD or Medscape.

Cite this: Maurie Markman. Fast Five Quiz: Early-Stage Breast Cancer – Medscape – Jan 14, 2021.


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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Assessing The Extent And Spread

If you are confirmed to have breast cancer, further tests may be needed to assess if it has spread – for example:

  • Blood tests.
  • How large the tumour has grown.
  • Whether the cancer has spread to local lymph nodes in the armpit.
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body .

Finding out the stage of the cancer, the grade of the cells and the receptor status of the cancer helps doctors to advise on the best treatment options. It also gives a reasonable indication of outlook.

Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer

Treatment Options For Early Stage Breast Cancer

Common symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A lump in your breast or underarm that doesnât go away. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
  • Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. This could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Swelling may start before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it.
  • Pain and tenderness, although lumps donât usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
  • A flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you canât see or feel.
  • Breast changes such as a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.
  • Changes in your nipple, like one that:
  • Pulls inward
  • Develops sores
  • Unusual nipple discharge. It could be clear, bloody, or another color.
  • A marble-like area under your skin that feels different from any other part of either breast.
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    Treatment Options For Metastatic Breast Cancer

    Treatment for metastatic breast cancer often is based on systemic therapies, which use drugs rather than surgery or radiation. Metastases treatments are designed to shrink tumors and slow their growth, help ease symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatment may change, such as when one therapy stops working, or the side effects become too uncomfortable. Rather than having only one treatment, most patients undergo several treatments combined to help fight the cancer.

    The four broad categories of drug-based treatments are:

    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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    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.

    Breast Cancer: Symptoms And Signs

    Breast Cancer Awareness: Symptoms and Signs of Breast Cancer

    Have questions about breast cancer? Ask here.

    ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

    The majority of women with breast cancer do not have any body changes or symptoms when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer.

    The following signs and symptoms should be discussed with a doctor. Many times, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer.

    • A lump that feels like a hard knot or a thickening in the breast or under the arm. It is important to feel the same area in the other breast to make sure the change is not a part of healthy breast tissue in that area.

    • Change in the size or shape of the breast

    • Nipple discharge that occurs suddenly, is bloody, or occurs in only 1 breast

    • Physical changes, such as a nipple turned inward or a sore located in the nipple area

    • Skin irritation or changes, such as puckering, dimpling, scaliness, or new creases

    • A warm, red, swollen breast with or without a rash with dimpling resembling the skin of an orange, called peau d’orange

    • Pain in the breast, particularly breast pain that does not go away. Pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer, but it should be reported to a doctor.

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