Can Lymphoma Of The Skin Be Found Early
This type of lymphoma first appears in the skin, so it is usually found earlier in the course of the disease than many other types of cancer. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard even for experienced doctors to diagnose skin lymphomas right away because they often look like other, more common skin problems such as infections or eczema.
My Breast Looked A Little Pink
In the shower one day, I noticed a pale pinkness on my breast just below my nipple area, which looked more like a mild sunburn than a rash. I knew something was off. I had my ob-gyn take a look, and he said he wasnt concerned at all because it was barely noticeable. He suggested my bra fit too snugly, and I needed to go shopping for new bras. So I did just that.
Over time, that pink area hardened slightly and was sore to the touch. My ob-gyn again said he wasnt concerned. Eventually the pain increased behind my breast in my back. My ob-gyn said that breast cancer does not hurt, so I didnt need to worry about it. He ordered a mammogram to put my mind at ease. The mammogram and all other tests came back normal.
Weeks went by and my lower back began to hurt. Eventually, after my GP suggested I had arthritis and I went to physical therapy. I went to see a breast specialist. He told me I had mastitis and gave me antibiotics. That didnt help. Back at the breast surgeon, he sent a picture of my breast to the top surgeon who ordered a diagnostic mammogram, which includes a sonogram and a biopsy. I was diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer in my breast, bones, and liver.
Jennifer Cordts, stay-at-home mom, Dallas
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
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Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Women That Arent Lumps
No need to Google early signs of breast cancer to know one of the telltale symptoms include a lump in the breast. Irregularities, like lumps and bumps, are, after all, the most common thing women are told to keep an eye and feel out for during a breast self-exam. But what about breast cancer symptoms that *arent* lumps? Theyre more common than you might realize.
A non-lump symptom was exactly what Meghan Hall, 34, discovered before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I noticed something green spilled on the front of my shirt, I didnt think anything of ituntil I tried to take it off and realized it was stuck to my nipple, Meghan told WH. My breast was leaking green fluid.
Thats right: Meghans breast cancer symptom was green fluid leaking from her nipplesand her experience isnt unique. One in six women who discovered their cancer themselves caught it based on a less-obvious breast cancer symptom, like nipple abnormalities and weight loss , according to a 2017 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.
These self-reported breast cancersespecially ones that dont involve the typical lumphighlight why its so important to pay attention to any strange signs or symptoms or changes you may be experiencing, in addition to staying on top of your mammograms and annual checkups, says Neelima Denduluri, MD, the associate chair of the U.S. Oncology Network Breast Committee.
Breast Cancer: Spot The Signs
Early breast cancer doesnt usually cause any symptoms, so its critical to get regular mammograms. Screening guidelines are based on your age and medical history, so be sure to ask your doctor how often you should get a mammogram. Signs of breast cancer may appear as the tumor grows. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see your health care provider. Most often, they arent due to cancer and may be caused by another health problem. Only your doctor can diagnose them for sure.
Lump A lump or mass in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. It will feel like a hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area. You should have any new lumps checked by a health care professional.
Swelling Breast swelling may occur before you feel a lump in your breast, so be sure to tell your doctor if you experience this symptom. You may also find unexpected swelling around your collarbone or armpit, which could indicate that breast cancer has spread to your lymph nodes in those areas.
Nipple Discharge Liquid leaking from your nipple doesnt always indicate a medical problem. Signs of a more serious condition such as breast cancer include sudden discharge without squeezing the nipple, leaking from only one breast, and liquid that is bloody or clear .
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Changes To The Breast Or Chest Area
After breast-conserving surgery or a mastectomy, with or without reconstruction, be aware of any changes to either side, such as:
- swelling on your chest, in your armpit or around your collarbone
- a change in shape or size
- a change in skin texture, such as puckering or dimpling
- redness or a rash on or around the nipple or on the skin
- liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing it
- the nipple has become inverted or looks different, for example changed its position or shape
- swelling in the arm or hand
- a lump or thickening that feels different
What Are The Five Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
The majority of breast cancer patients first seek diagnosis because of a lump on the breast. This is one of the five warning signs of breast cancer:
Breast lump: A hard, fixed mass or lump felt anywhere in the breast.
Changes to the nipple and the surrounding area: Changes in the nipple area, nipple retraction and inverted nipple are common warning signs of breast cancer. Bloody discharge from the nipple is another warning sign.
Change in color and/or thickening of skin on the breast: Any dimpling or thickening of breast skin that resembles an orange rind is a warning sign of breast cancer. If the breast skin changes color, typically to a pink or reddish hue that covers more than half the breast that may also be a warning sign.
A non-healing sore anywhere on the breast, including the nipple: A red, scaly, flaky nipple, and any persistent skin change, including blood or fluid from the nipple with non-healing sore, may be a warning sign of breast cancer
Swelling of axillary lymph nodes : Many patients who end up diagnosed with breast cancer have swelling of lymph nodes in the armpit, they may or may not have changes in the structure of the breast, but they come in for a consult because they feel lump under their arm. 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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You Notice Changes That Aren’t 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.
That’s because breast cancer can spread before it’s caught, causing symptoms in body parts that have nothing to do with your boobs. It’s 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.
Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Despite initial treatment and success, breast cancer can sometimes come back. This is called recurrence. Recurrence happens when a small number of cells escape the initial treatment.
Symptoms of a recurrence in the same place as the first breast cancer are very similar to symptoms of the first breast cancer. They include:
- a new breast lump
- redness or swelling of the breast
- a new thickening near the mastectomy scar
If breast cancer comes back regionally, it means that the cancer has returned to the lymph nodes or near to the original cancer but not exactly the same place. The symptoms may be slightly different.
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What Are The Treatment Options For Breast Cancer
Depending on the type and stage of cancer, treatments can vary. However, there are some common practices doctors and specialists use to combat breast cancer:
- Lumpectomy is when the doctor removes the tumor while leaving the breast intact.
- Mastectomy is when the doctor surgically removes all of the breast tissue including the tumor and connecting tissue including the lymph nodes.
- Chemotherapy is the most common cancer treatment, and it involves the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs interfere with cells ability to reproduce.
- Radiation uses X-rays to treat cancer directly.
- Hormonal and targeted therapy can be used when either genes or hormones play a part in the cancer growth. This therapy targets the specific protein on the tumor cells.
Other Causes Of Pain And Tenderness
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
Treatments For Breast Cancer In Men
The treatment for breast cancer in men depends on how far the cancer has spread.
Possible treatments include:
- surgery to remove the affected breast tissue and nipple and some of the glands in your armpit
- radiotherapy where radiation is used to kill cancer cells
- chemotherapy where cancer medicine is used to kill cancer cells
- other medicines that help stop breast cancer growing including tamoxifen and trastuzumab
Many men have surgery followed by 1 or more of the other treatments. This can help stop the cancer coming back in the future.
Read more about treatments for breast cancer in men.
Or Your Nipples Are Leaking
Is there anything more alarming than having your breasts start squirting liquid when there’s no baby involved? “Its normal to have some leakage during pregnancy while breastfeeding, and up to a year after weaning your baby, but if you notice any discharge any other time it needs to be evaluated by a doctor,” says Dr. Patt.
Random dischargeespecially if it’s red or green or has an odormight mean you have a problem, including cancer of the breast or the pituitary gland, Dr. Patt explains.
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Later Signs Of Breast Cancer
Later signs of breast cancer include:
- retraction, or inward turning of the nipple
- enlargement of one breast
- enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
- visible veins on the breast
Having one or more of these symptoms doesnt necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Nipple discharge, for example, can also be caused by an infection. See a doctor for a complete evaluation if you experience any of these signs and symptoms.
What Are The Types Of Breast Cancer
There are several different types of breast cancer, including:
Can cancer form in other parts of the breast?
When we say breast cancer, we usually mean cancers that form in milk ducts or lobules. Cancers can also form in other parts of your breast, but these types of cancer are less common. These can include:
- Angiosarcoma. This rare type of cancer begins in the cells that make up the lining of blood or lymph vessels.
- Phyllodes tumors. Starting in the connective tissue, phyllodes tumors are rare. Theyre usually benign , but they can be malignant in some cases.
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You Have A Zit That Wont Heal
Didnt know that you can get zits on your breasts? Its true. Its not uncommon to get small sores, including pimples and even warts, on your breasts or nipples, Dr. Ross says. For women who work out, you may find them in places you sweat heavily, like between your breasts, or along the line of your sports bra where sweat can get trapped and clog your pores.
Most zits will go away on their own with time and good hygiene. But if youve got a small sore of any type that doesnt go away after a week or two, its worth it to get it checked out. Having sores or bruises that wont heal can be an early sign of cancer, she explains.
Early Warning Signs Of 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
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What Is A Histological Work
Determining your type of breast cancer begins with a histological workup, a summary prepared by the pathologist after you undergo a biopsy. Essentially, the histological evaluation is the microscopic analysis of the chemical and cellular properties associated with a suspicious breast tumor. The pathologists here at Providence Saint Johns will also confirm the size of the breast tumor where necessary for breast cancer staging purposes. The histological evaluation is essential to determine the most effective treatment recommendations following surgery.
You’ve Got Painful Swelling
Swollen and painful breasts are, well, a pain, and while they’re mainly due to hormonal changes , they can be linked to breast cancer.
It’s all about the size and placement of the tumor, says Dr. Patt, which can be responsible for a change in the size or shape of your breast, or cause of painful swelling. While the vast majority of women who report breast pain do not have cancer, if breast pain and swelling aren’t linked to your menstrual cycle, you’re not breastfeeding, and it appears suddenly or doesn’t go away, give your doctor a call because whatever is happening needs to be addressed, adds Dr. Patt.
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Physical Exams And Pathology Exams
Sometimes, positive lymph nodes can be felt during a physical exam. However, a pathologists exam of the lymph nodes removed during a biopsy or surgery is needed to determine lymph node status.
During a physical exam, your health care provider will feel under your arm to check if the lymph nodes are enlarged. If the lymph nodes feel enlarged, its likely the breast cancer has spread. However, the cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes even if they dont feel enlarged.
The pathologist will check the nodes under a microscope. Nearly one-third of women with negative lymph nodes based on a physical exam have nodes with cancer found during the pathology exam . And, some women with enlarged nodes during a physical exam have cancer-free nodes .
What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
If you have any symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Some warning signs of breast cancer are
- New lump in the breast or underarm .
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
Learning everything you can about your diagnosis can help you make informed decisions about your health. Here are some questions you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- Where is the tumor located?
- Has the tumor spread?
- What stage breast cancer do I have?
- What do the estrogen receptor , progesterone receptor and HER2 tests show and what do the results mean for me?
- What are my treatment options?
- Is breast cancer surgery an option for me?
- Will I be able to work while I undergo treatment?
- How long will my treatment last?
- What other resources are available to me?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can feel scary, frustrating and even hopeless. If you or a loved one is facing this disease, its important to take advantage of the many resources available to you. Talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment options. You may even want to get a second opinion before making a decision. You should feel satisfied and optimistic about your treatment plan. Finally, joining a local support group can help with feelings of isolation and allow you to talk with other people who are going through the same thing.