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Skin Changes In Breast Cancer

Symptoms Of Skin Metastases

Skin can show early signs of breast cancer

Symptoms of skin metastases include a:

  • Change in the colour of the skin
  • Lasting rash
  • Firm, painless, small lump or a number of lumps of different sizes

Sometimes the symptoms of skin metastases, such as redness and inflammation, may look like an infection of the skin called cellulitis.

Skin metastases can also cause lymphoedema, which is swelling of the arm, hand or breast area.

Other possible symptoms include:

  • Smell

What Causes The Changes In Your Skin And Nails

Skin and nail changes are usually caused by specific types of cancer treatments. These include radiation, some types of chemotherapy, and certain hormonal and targeted therapies. If youâre on more than one treatment that causes skin and nail side effects, your chances of having them are higher.

Keep in mind that not all breast cancer treatments cause skin and nail changes. And not all people experience the same effects, either. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you need more information on the side effects of your treatment.

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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What Is The Prognosis For People With Inflammatory Breast Cancer

IBC usually develops quickly and spreads to other tissues outside of your breast. It often returns after treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to managing the condition as effectively as possible.

Because IBC spreads quickly and is found later than other cancers, the outlook for people with this condition is generally not as good as for different types of breast cancer. Still, some people live many years after an IBC diagnosis. Your healthcare provider can explain your prognosis to you.

What Do We Know About The Cause Of Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer originates in breast tissue. Its caused by changes, or mutations, in breast cell DNA. These mutations cause cells to grow abnormally and divide quicker than healthy cells do. The abnormal cells accumulate, forming a malignant breast mass, also known as a lump.

Your immune system may be able to successfully fight some abnormal cells. but the ones that continue to grow may spread, or metastasize, throughout the breast to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

When breast cancer spreads, the malignant tumors it causes in other places are still referred to as breast cancer.

What exactly triggers DNA changes in breast cells isnt clear. Two people can have the same or similar risk factors, but only one might develop breast cancer.

55 years old .

But your genetics and external factors, like smoking, also have an impact. Genetic risk factors cant be changed, but lifestyle choices that put you at higher risk can be altered.

Its also likely that for many people, multiple risk factors both genetic and environmental have an impact when several are present.

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How Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treated

Inflammatory breast cancer treatments use a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy for breast cancer uses drugs to kill cancer cells. You may receive chemo intravenously or as a pill. Chemotherapy shrinks cancer cells so theyre easier to remove during surgery. You may also receive chemotherapy after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that may remain after surgery.
  • Surgery: Surgery removes your entire affected breast and nearby lymph nodes. More conservative treatments that remove tissue while sparing your breast arent effective with IBC. The cancer spreads too quickly.
  • Radiation therapy:Radiation therapy uses a machine to direct energy toward the cancer, destroying the cancer cells. After surgery, you may receive radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells that surgery may have missed.

Depending on the characteristics of your cancer cells , you may receive treatments like targeted therapy, hormone therapy or immunotherapy.

Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you take part in a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a study that tests the safety and effectiveness of new cancer treatments. Treatments that are successful in clinical trials often become the standard treatment approaches.

When You Should See A Doctor

A best practice is to see your healthcare provider if you have any health concerns. However, many symptoms of breast cancer can also be symptoms of hormonal changes, especially due to menstruation.

If you notice that your breasts get tender and lumpy around the start or end of your menstrual cycle, thats normal. Everyones body reacts differently to changes in hormone levels.

If your breasts tend to hurt or the skin of your breasts is itchy or red and you cannot link the symptoms to anything external for example, if your bra is not the right size, it can result in painful breasts its best to book an appointment with your health care provider.

Injuries and trauma can also lead to symptoms that look like breast cancer, but are often easily treatable. A prior infection in the breasts, for example, could lead to discoloration or tenderness.

You should always get unusual lumps checked out, but they are not a confirmed sign of breast cancer. Lumps can be a sign of cysts or a fibrocystic breast condition, both of which are treatable. However, unusual lumps in your breast, coupled with changes in skin texture or changes in the shape of your nipples, warrant medical expertise.

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Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented

You may be able to help prevent breast cancer by making healthy lifestyle changes such as:

  • Staying at a healthy weight
  • Limiting alcohol use
  • Limiting your exposure to estrogen by
  • Breastfeeding your babies if you can
  • Limiting hormone therapy

If you are at high risk, your health care provider may suggest that you take certain medicines to lower the risk. Some women at very high risk may decide to get a mastectomy to prevent breast cancer.

It’s also important to get regular mammograms. They may be able to identify breast cancer in the early stages, when it is easier to treat.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

What Is A Normal Breast

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No breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications. Breasts also tend to change as you age. For more information, see the National Cancer Institutes Breast Changes and Conditions.external icon

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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms

A rare type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer can have different symptoms to other types.

Your whole breast might look red and inflamed and feel sore. The breast might feel hard and the skin might look like orange peel.

See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

Breast Changes Of Concern

Some breast changes can be felt by a woman or her health care provider, but most can be detected only during an imaging procedure such as a mammogram, MRI, or ultrasound. Whether a breast change was found by your doctor or you noticed a change, its important to follow up with your doctor to have the change checked and properly diagnosed.

Check with your health care provider if your breast looks or feels different, or if you notice one of these symptoms:

  • Lump or firm feeling in your breast or under your arm. Lumps come in different shapes and sizes. Normal breast tissue can sometimes feel lumpy. Doing breast self-exams can help you learn how your breasts normally feel and make it easier to notice and find any changes, but breast self-exams are not a substitute for mammograms.
  • Nipple changes or discharge. Nipple discharge may be different colors or textures. It can be caused by birth control pills, some medicines, and infections. But because it can also be a sign of cancer, it should always be checked.
  • Skin that is itchy, red, scaled, dimpled or puckered

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What Causes Skin Dimpling

A condition called fat necrosis is unrelated to breast cancer and can also cause dimpled skin. Sometimes, fatty tissue in the breast can become damaged and die.

This may result in a lump that could be mistaken for a tumor. If the fat necrosis develops near the surface, it may make the skin surface look pitted or dimpled.

Fat necrosis isnt a precursor to cancer, but its symptoms still warrant evaluation. A needle biopsy of the lump can help confirm if its cancerous or not. Fat necrosis doesnt raise the risk of breast cancer.

Dimpled skin is a common sign of inflammatory breast cancer, which draws its name from an inflamed appearance. This form of cancer results in the blockage of lymph vessels in the skin.

These vessels transport lymph, a fluid that helps carry particles and excess fluid, from tissue throughout the body to the bloodstream. The lymph system also supports the bodys immune system.

Inflammatory breast cancer accounts for

If your skin dimpling is caused by inflammatory breast cancer, you may have the following symptoms:

  • The affected breast may swell and feel warm.
  • The affected breast may be especially tender.
  • You may feel pain in the affected breast.
  • You may feel a burning sensation in the affected breast.

The affected area often covers about one-third of the breast in inflammatory breast cancer. This can vary depending on the person. If you see dimpled skin on both breasts, its unlikely that the cause is cancer.

Less Common Side Effects

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Less common side effects include:

  • Allergic reaction to the chemotherapy drug
  • Bleeding and oozing from the wound, especially if radiotherapy has been given to the area
  • Mild temperature, which usually goes down with paracetamol
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Lung problems due to the side effect of the chemotherapy

Some people will have mild effects from the chemotherapy drug, such as feeling sick and being sick .

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Warmth Redness And Pain

Warmth, redness and pain in the breast typically indicates mastitis, an infection or inflammation of the breast that is very common in breastfeeding women. Mastitis can be easily treated, and your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Rarely, this may be due to an inflammatory breast cancer , and so it should be addressed promptly by your doctor.

What To Expect From Your Doctor

If youve ruled out injury, hormonal changes and trauma as potential causes for your symptoms and have decided to seek medical advice, it can be daunting if you dont know what to expect.

Your health care provider will carry out a clinical breast exam by doing one or both of the following tests.

  • Visual: The doctor will ask you to raise or lower your arms so they can see any changes in the size of your breasts and nipples, as well as spot any skin discoloration or dimpling.
  • Manual: The doctor will perform a lump check similar to the self-exam by using the pads of their fingers to feel around the breasts, armpits and collarbone for any unusual growths. They may also further example any swollen lymph nodes for signs of other illnesses.

If your doctor sees the need for further tests, they may ask you to book a mammogram.

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Sudden Change In Breast Size

IBC can change the appearance of the breasts. This change can occur suddenly. Because this cancer can cause inflammation and swelling, breast enlargement or thickness can occur.

The affected breast may appear noticeably larger than the other breast or feel heavy and hard.

If youve always had symmetrical breasts and you notice a sudden increase or decrease in the size of one breast, speak with your doctor to rule out IBC.

diagnostic criteria for IBC include:

  • breast redness, swelling, dimpling, or warmth that comes on quickly, with or without a detectable lump or mass
  • redness that includes at least a third of the breast
  • symptoms that have lasted for no longer than 6 months
  • confirmation of the presence of cancer cells through a biopsy

Now lets explore the diagnostic methods that can be used for IBC in a little more detail.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

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One of the most common signs of breast cancer is a lump, but the presence of a lump can also indicate something benign, like a cyst. Lumps are also typical for some breasts, and often, people who menstruate find their breasts get lumpier due to the hormonal changes.

Its essential to understand what are normal and abnormal changes in your body. For example, hormonal changes are notorious for causing all sorts of changes in our bodies, and some of those changes can present as symptoms of breast cancer.

Regular mammograms are the best ways to detect breast cancer symptoms, but you can spot some specific signs on your own.

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How Is Electrochemotherapy Given

The chemotherapy is usually given into a vein . It can also be given by injection directly into the area of cancer being treated .

Bleomycin is the chemotherapy drug most commonly used. Cisplatin, another chemotherapy drug, may also be used.

A short time after the chemotherapy drug is given, electrical impulses are given directly to the area using an electrode with the help of a specially designed needle probe. The electrode may be applied a number of times to make sure the whole area is treated. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes but will depend on the size of the area being treated.

Its usually given under general anaesthetic in the operating theatre. Sometimes local anaesthetic may be used depending on the size of the area or how many areas need to be treated. As electrochemotherapy treatment can be painful, you will be given pain relief before and after the treatment.

Many people need only a single treatment of electrochemotherapy, although it can be repeated in the same area or used to treat a different area.

Treatment is usually carried out as an outpatient or day case, though some people may need to stay in hospital overnight. This depends on how much treatment is needed and your general health.

Afterwards, the area will often be covered with a dressing that may need changing regularly. The treated areas will usually scab over. Often the areas look worse before any improvement is seen.

Breast Cancer Skin Changes To Watch For

Imagine you notice one of your breasts has become red and feels warm to the touch. Or the skin looks different say, pebbly, like an orange peel. You do the smart thing and make an appointment with a dermatologist, expecting to go home with a prescription for a skin cream. But its possible you might instead get a referral to an oncologist.

A breast lump is the classic sign of breast cancer, but its not the only sign. In rare cases, breast cancer can cause skin changes that offer early clues to the disease, according to dermatologist and dermatopathologist Ted Schiff, MD, founder and chief medical officer of Waters Edge Dermatology. Its much more likely that another, less-serious condition is the cause, but the following signs and symptoms could potentially indicate breast cancer and merit a trip to the doctor.

Dr. Schiff stressed that the majority of patients he sees with breast skin changes do not have breast cancer. Most have a condition that responds well to common treatments. For example, a rash on the breast caused by eczema usually clears up with cortisone cream. For an infection, antibiotics usually do the trick.

Women who have a family history of breast cancer should be especially vigilant about watching for any signs and symptoms of breast cancer, including skin changes, and should talk with their gynecologist about appropriate screening, said Dr. Schiff.

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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.

What Do Breast Lumps Feel Like

Seek Medical Attention Once You Observe Abnormality in or Around the ...

How breast lumps feel depends on their cause, location, and growth. They can vary from painful, hard, and immobile to soft, painless, and easily moveable.

Lumps are most likely to be cancerous if they do not cause pain and are hard, unevenly shaped, and immobile.

Other breast lumps can feel different:

  • Fibroadenoma lumps tend to be painless, easily movable, smooth, and rounded. They may disappear on their own.
  • Breast cysts are smooth but firm.
  • Breast abscesses and mastitis usually cause painful, swollen lumps, and there may also be a fever and flushing around the affected skin.

ACS no longer recommends breast self-examination, as some research has suggested that it may not be useful. However, it does urge people to be aware of the feel and appearance of their breasts and to seek medical advice if any changes occur.

Other organizations still consider self-examination worthwhile, as long as a person also has regular screenings. They suggest checking the breasts in the shower, in front of the mirror, and lying down.

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