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.
When To Visit The Doctor
It can be hard to know when its the right time to see a doctor. If you are experiencing any of the abnormal symptoms mentioned above, the right time is now. Early detection is key, therefore its important to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or gynecologist immediately. Its also a good idea to plan for regularly scheduled screening mammograms once you turn 40, or earlier if breast cancer runs in your family. Your PCP or gynecologist can help determine a mammogram schedule thats right for you.
The good news is that mammograms are known to be 87% accurate in detecting breast cancer. If your mammogram detects a suspicious mass, its likely youll need further evaluation so a diagnosis can be made. Again, early detection is key so your doctor does find breast cancer during a routine visit, you can expect a better outcome.
The earlier cancer treatment begins, the better patient outcomes usually are. Therefore, our breast cancer care team urges you to maintain a regular breast exam schedule with your PCP or gynecologist. Or, if you notice any changes or lumps, its important to speak with your doctor about those changes immediately.
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Breast Or Nipple Pain
Breast cancer can cause changes in skin cells that lead to feelings of pain, tenderness, and discomfort in the breast. If a lump is present, it is not painful.
Although breast cancer is often painless, it is important not to ignore any signs or symptoms that could be due to breast cancer.
may be a sign of breast cancer.
Although changes in the size of the breast can be a symptom of any type of breast cancer, the National Cancer Institute states that a rapid increase in breast size could be an indication of inflammatory breast cancer. This is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.
If someone notices that either or both of their breasts have increased in size, they should consider contacting a doctor.
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How To Check Your Breasts
Theres no special way to check your breasts and you do not need any training.
Checking your breasts is as easy as TLC:
- Touch your breasts: can you feel anything new or unusual?
- Look for changes: does anything look different to you?
- Check any new or unusual changes with a GP
Everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes.
Get used to checking regularly and be aware of anything thats new or different for you.
Check your whole breast area, including up to your collarbone and armpits.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
There are several risk factors that increase your chances of getting breast cancer. However, having any of these doesnt mean you will definitely develop the disease.
Some risk factors cant be avoided, such as family history. You can change other risk factors, such as smoking. Risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Age. Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you age. Most invasive breast cancers are found in women over 55 years old.
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol use disorder raises your risk.
- Having dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue makes mammograms hard to read. It also increases your risk of breast cancer.
- Gender. According to the
While there are risk factors you cant control, following a healthy lifestyle, getting regular screenings, and taking any preventive measures your doctor recommends can help lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
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What Causes Breast Cancer
Breast cancer develops when abnormal cells in your breast divide and multiply. But experts dont know exactly what causes this process to begin in the first place.
However, research indicates that are several risk factors that may increase your chances of developing breast cancer. These include:
- Age. Being 55 or older increases your risk for breast cancer.
- Sex. Women are much more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
- Family history and genetics. If you have parents, siblings, children or other close relatives whove been diagnosed with breast cancer, youre more likely to develop the disease at some point in your life. About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are due to single abnormal genes that are passed down from parents to children, and that can be discovered by genetic testing.
- Smoking. Tobacco use has been linked to many different types of cancer, including breast cancer.
- Alcohol use. Research indicates that drinking alcohol can increase your risk for certain types of breast cancer.
- Obesity. Having obesity can increase your risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence.
- Radiation exposure. If youve had prior radiation therapy especially to your head, neck or chest youre more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy. People who use hormone replacement therapy have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
How Can I Be Sure That My Cancer Will Be Detected Before It Has Spread
While you cant prevent breast cancer altogether, there are certain things you can do to reduce your risk of discovering it at an advanced stage. For example:
- Get routine mammograms. The American Cancer Society recommends having a baseline mammogram at age 35, and a screening mammogram every year after age 40.
- Examine your breasts every month after age 20. Youll become familiar with the contours and feel of your breasts and will be more alert to changes.
- Have your breasts examined by a healthcare provider at least once every three years after age 20, and every year after age 40. Clinical breast exams can detect lumps that mammograms may not find.
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Ovarian Ablation Or Suppression
In women who haven’t experienced the menopause, oestrogen is produced by the ovaries. Ovarian ablation or suppression stops the ovaries working and producing oestrogen.
Ablation can be carried out using surgery or radiotherapy. It stops the ovaries working permanently and means you’ll experience the menopause early.
Ovarian suppression involves using a medication 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 is taken as an injection once a month and can cause menopausal side effects, including:
- hot flushes and sweats
Read further information about hormone therapy
Further Tests For Breast Cancer
If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and to work out the best method of treatment.
If your cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, you’ll have further tests in the screening centre before being referred for treatment.
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When To See A Doctor
Any change in the look or feel in any part of your breasts for which theres no obvious explanation warrants a visit to the doctor, says Dr. Wallace. If you have any of the symptoms described above, see your primary care doctor or gynecologist as soon as you can. And if youre not satisfied with the care you received, see a breast specialist.
In terms of routine screening with mammograms, official recommendations vary about when to start and the frequency to follow. For women ages 40 to 49, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests that women with average breast cancer risk should decide for themselves whether to start screening by getting every-other-year mammograms, while the American Cancer Society recommends women ages 40 to 44 should decide for themselves whether to start breast cancer screening annually, while those ages 45 to 49 should get screened annually.
After age 50 and until age 75, the consensus is that women with normal breast cancer risk should undergo annual or biannual mammograms.
After age 75, recommendations again vary significantly. The ACS states that women in good health with a life expectancy of at least 10 years or more and average breast cancer risk should continue with mammograms, while the American College of Physicians states that they should stop.
Symptom Signature Of Breast Cancer Individual Symptoms
A total of 2316/2783 of symptomatic women with breast cancer were included in the analysis . Among them, 2543 symptoms were recorded, averaging 1.1 symptoms per woman. A total of 56 distinct presenting symptoms were reported in the study population , in 95 unique phenotypes. Breast lump was the most common symptom, recorded in about four-fifths of all women . The next most commonly reported presenting symptoms were nipple abnormalities , breast pain , and breast skin abnormalities .
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Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Bones
You may have any of these symptoms if your cancer has spread to the bones:
- an ache or pain in the affected bone
- breaks in the bones because they are weaker
- breathlessness, looking pale, bruising and bleeding due to low levels of blood cells – blood cells are made in the bone marrow and can be crowded out by the cancer cells
Sometimes when bones are damaged by advanced cancer, the bones release calcium into the blood. This is called hypercalcaemia and can cause various symptoms such as:
Women Who Are At High Risk For Breast Cancer
Some women have a high risk of breast cancer than others. Women who have received inherited genes of breast cancer are at high risk to get cancer. 10 to 15% of all cancer occurs in patients who have mutation genes. However, not all mutations in the breast develop into cancer but have a high risk.
Following are the common signs and symptoms of breast cancer
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What Are The Breast Cancer Stages
Staging helps describe how much cancer is in your body. Its determined by several factors, including the size and location of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread to other areas of your body. The basic breast cancer stages are:
- Stage 0. The disease is non-invasive. This means it hasnt broken out of your breast ducts.
- Stage I. The cancer cells have spread to the nearby breast tissue.
- Stage II. The tumor is either smaller than 2 centimeters across and has spread to underarm lymph nodes or larger than 5 centimeters across but hasnt spread to underarm lymph nodes. Tumors at this stage can measure anywhere between 2 to 5 centimeters across, and may or may not affect the nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage III. At this stage, the cancer has spread beyond the point of origin. It may have invaded nearby tissue and lymph nodes, but it hasnt spread to distant organs. Stage III is usually referred to as locally advanced breast cancer.
- Stage IV. The cancer has spread to areas away from your breast, such as your bones, liver, lungs or brain. Stage IV breast cancer is also called metastatic breast cancer.
Symptoms Of Secondary Breast Cancer
Secondary breast cancer means that a cancer that began in the breast has spread to another part of the body. Secondary cancer can also be called advanced or metastatic cancer.
It might not mean that you have secondary breast cancer if you have the symptoms described below. They can be caused by other conditions.
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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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A Lump In Your Breast Or Underarm
A lump in your breast or underarm can be the first noticeable sign of breast cancer. If you notice a change to your breast, talk to your doctor.
This holds true, even if youve had a normal mammogram that didnt detect any problems or if you think youre too young to get breast cancer. Women of all ages can get breast cancer.
Do breast cancer lumps or benign breast lumps hurt?
Some breast lumps can be painful, yes. Most lumps caused by breast cancer are not painful. But cysts and/or normal lumpy breast tissue can sometimes cause pain without being cancerous.
If youve been having localized breast pain that doesnt go away and youre not sure whats causing it, dont wait too long to have it checked.
Are there other causes of breast lumps besides cancer?
Yes. Not all breast lumps are cancerous. Breast cysts and fibroadenomas are two common types of benign breast lumps that women experience.
Other conditions such as fat necrosis or infection can present themselves as lumps, too. This is why its important to talk with a doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your breast health.
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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.
What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer
The most common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Feeling a lump in the breast area, with or without pain
- Change in breast shape or size
- Dimple or puckering in breast
- A nipple turning inward into the breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, especially if it is bloody
- Scaly, red, darkened or swollen skin in the breast area
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Dimple, pitted appearance or feel in the breast area
- Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes around the breast area, including the collarbone and armpits
Although these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, you should check with a doctor preferably a breast health specialist so they can make a definitive diagnosis.
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What Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer originates in your breast tissue. It occurs when breast cells mutate and grow out of control, creating a mass of tissue . Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding your breast. It can also travel to other parts of your body and form new tumors. When this happens, its called metastasis.
Other Symptoms And Signs Of Metastasis
Loss of appetite
If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom, in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.
If the doctor diagnoses metastatic breast cancer, relieving symptoms remains an important part of care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called “palliative care” or “supportive care.” It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.
The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
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