Signs Of Breast Cancer Include A Lump Or Change In The Breast
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast.
- A nipple turned inward into the breast.
- Fluid, other than breast milk, from the nipple, especially if it’s bloody.
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola .
- Dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange, called peaudorange.
What Is Breast Cancer
Cells in the body normally divide only when new cells are needed. Sometimes, cells in a part of the body grow and divide out of control, which creates a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the cells that are growing out of control are normal cells, the tumor is called benign. If, however, the cells that are growing out of control are abnormal and don’t function like the body’s normal cells, the tumor is called malignant .
Cancers are named after the part of the body from which they originate. Breast cancer originates in the breast tissue. Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. It can also travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors, a process called metastasis.
What Are Hormones And Hormone Receptors
Hormones are substances that function as chemical messengers in the body. They affect the actions of cells and tissues at various locations in the body, often reaching their targets through the bloodstream.
The hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced by the ovaries in premenopausal women and by some other tissues, including fat and skin, in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women and in men. Estrogen promotes the development and maintenance of female sex characteristics and the growth of long bones. Progesterone plays a role in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
Estrogen and progesterone also promote the growth of some breast cancers, which are called hormone-sensitive breast cancers. Hormone-sensitive breast cancer cells contain proteins called hormone receptors; that become activated when hormones bind to them. The activated receptors cause changes in the expression of specific genes, which can stimulate cell growth.
Breast cancers that lack ERs are called ER negative, and if they lack both ER and PR they may be called HR negative.
Approximately 67%80% of breast cancers in women are ER positive . Approximately 90% of breast cancers in men are ER positive and approximately 80% are PR positive .
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What Type Of Drug Treatment Might I Get
Most women with breast cancer in stages I to III will get some kind of drug therapy as part of their treatment. This may include:
- Hormone therapy
- HER2 targeted drugs, such as trastuzumab and pertuzumab
- Some combination of these
The types of drugs that might work best depend on the tumors hormone receptor status, HER2 status, and other factors.
Treatments For Breast Cancer
If you have breast cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma, your healthcare team will consider:
- the stage
- if you have reached menopause
- the hormone receptor status of the cancer
- the HER2 status of the cancer
- the risk that the cancer will come back, or recur
- your overall health
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Special Types Of Invasive Breast Cancers
Some invasive breast cancers have special features or develop in different ways that affect their treatment and outlook. These cancers are less common but can be more serious than other types of breast cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer;is an uncommon type of invasive breast cancer. It accounts for about 1% to 5% of all breast cancers.
What Is Radiation Therapy And How Does It Work
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells only in the part of the body that is treated with the radiation. Breast cancer radiation therapy may be used to destroy any remaining mutated cells that remain in the breast or armpit area after;surgery.
Note:;There are special situations in which radiation is used for women with metastatic breast cancer experiencing painful bone metastasis. This section however focused on the use of radiation for adjuvant therapy .
Who should expect to be prescribed radiation therapy and what is involved?Some people with Stage 0 and most people with;Stage 1;invasive cancer and higher, who have had a;lumpectomy, can expect radiation therapy to be a part of their treatment regimen.
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Breast Cancer Requires Expert Care
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. women, affecting one in eight women who live to the age of 80. The disease forms when breast cells mutate and multiply uncontrollably, forming a tumor. If untreated, cancerous cells may spread to other parts of the body. Women who have a family history of the disease, who are obese or who have dense breasts have a higher risk;of the disease. Symptoms include;a lump, skin changes, nipple discharge and pain.
Increased Risk Of Leukemia
Very rarely, certain chemo drugs can cause diseases of the bone marrow, such as myelodysplastic syndromes;or even acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of white blood cells. If this happens, it is usually within 10 years after treatment. For most women, the benefits of chemo in helping prevent breast cancer from coming back or in extending life are far likely to exceed the risk of this rare but serious complication.
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Types Of Breast Cancer
There are many types of breast cancer, and many different ways to describe them. Its easy to get confused over a breast cancer diagnosis.
The type of breast cancer is determined by the specific cells in the breast that are affected. Most breast cancers are carcinomas, which are tumors that start in the epithelial cells that line organs and tissues throughout the body. When carcinomas form in the breast, they are usually a more specific type;called adenocarcinoma, which starts in cells in the ducts or the lobules .
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Internal Breast Cancer Radiation
Internal radiation is a form of;partial breast radiation. During the treatment, the physician or surgeon inserts a radioactive liquid using needles, wires, or a catheter in order to target the area where the cancer originally began to grow and tissue closest to the tumor site to kill any possible remaining cancer cells.
Considering Complementary And Alternative Methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasnt mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctors medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be harmful.
Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known about the method, which can help you make an informed decision.;
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Breast Cancer Standard Treatments By Stage
Your treatment options depend on the;stage;of your disease and these factors:
- The size of the;tumor;in relation to the size of your breast
- The results of specific pathology tests
- Whether you have gone through menopause
- Your general health
- Your age
- Your family history or other;risk factors;associated with a predisposition for developing breast or ovarian cancer
Below are brief descriptions of common;treatments;for each stage. Other treatments may be appropriate for some women. Research studies can be an option at all stages of breast cancer.
Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer
Radiotherapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. You usually have 3 weeks of radiotherapy after having breast conserving surgery. But in some hospitals, you may have this treatment over a shorter time.;
Some people might have radiotherapy after a mastectomy. This depends on the stage of the cancer.;
The Types Of Radiotherapy
The type of radiotherapy you have will depend on the type of breast cancer and the type of surgery you have. Some women may not need to have radiotherapy at all.
Types of radiotherapy include:
- breast radiotherapy;;after breast-conserving surgery, radiation is applied to the whole of the remaining breast tissue
- chest-wall radiotherapy;;after a mastectomy, radiotherapy is applied to the chest wall
- breast boost;;some women may be offered a boost of high-dose radiotherapy in the area where the cancer was removed; however, this may affect the appearance of your breast, particularly if you have large breasts, and can sometimes have other side effects, including hardening of breast tissue
- radiotherapy to the lymph nodes ;where radiotherapy is aimed at the armpit and the surrounding area to kill any cancer that may be in the lymph nodes
Complementary And Alternative Treatments
Some people with breast cancer might be interested in exploring complementary or alternative treatments like vitamins, herbs, acupuncture, and massage.
These treatments are used alongside traditional breast cancer therapies to treat cancer or relieve cancer symptoms and uncomfortable side effects of treatments like chemotherapy. You can explore these treatments at any stage of breast cancer.
Examples of alternative therapy include:
- using massage to relax
- using peppermint tea to reduce nausea
- using cannabis to relieve pain
While some alternative medicine treatments might help you feel more comfortable, its important to keep in mind that many are unproven and could be harmful to your health. To be safe, talk with your doctor about alternative treatments youre interested in pursuing.
Breast cancer that spreads to other parts of the body can cause pain, such as bone pain, muscle pain, headaches, and discomfort around the liver. Talk with your doctor about pain management.
Options for mild to moderate pain include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen.
For severe pain in a later stage, your doctor may recommend an opioid such as morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, or fentanyl. These opioids have the potential for addiction, so they are only recommended in certain cases.
While breast cancer stage has a lot to do with treatment options, other factors can impact your treatment options as well.
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How Do Tamoxifen Raloxifene Anastrozole And Exemestane Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer
If you are at increased risk for developing breast cancer, four medications tamoxifen , raloxifene , anastrozole , and exemestane may help reduce your risk of developing this disease. These medications act only to reduce the risk of a specific type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. This type of breast cancer accounts for about two-thirds of all breast cancers.
Tamoxifen and raloxifene are in a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators . These drugs work by blocking the effects of estrogen in breast tissue by attaching to estrogen receptors in breast cells. Because SERMs bind to receptors, estrogen is blocked from binding. Estrogen is the fuel that makes most breast cancer cells grow. Blocking estrogen prevents estrogen from triggering the development of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.
Anastrozole and exemestane are in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors . These drugs work by blocking the production of estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors do this by blocking the activity of an enzyme called aromatase, which is needed to make estrogen.
Breast Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Breast
The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes. Each lobe has many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can make milk. The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts.
Each breast also has blood vessels and lymph vessels. The lymph vessels carry an almost colorless, watery fluid called lymph. Lymph vessels carry lymph between lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures found throughout the body. They filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fightinfection and disease. Groups of lymph nodes are found near the breast in theaxilla , above thecollarbone, and in the chest.
The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular carcinoma and is more often found in both breasts than are other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon type of breast cancer in which the breast is warm, red, and swollen.
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Cost Of Breast Cancer Treatments
Breast cancer patients may access medicines or medical services via a range of ways:
1) The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme . If medicines or medical services are approved by the PBS then they are provided to patients at a Government subsidised price.
2) Private health insurance. Patients should contact their insurer for information whether prescribed medicines and medical services are covered by their insurer.
3) Compassionate/special access programs. In some circumstances. pharmaceutical companies may provide patients with discounted or free access to new medicines not yet approved by the PBS.
4) Clinical trials. Depending on eligibility, patients may gain early access to new medicines that have not yet received Therapeutics Goods Administration approval or PBS listing. Clinical trials may be sponsored by pharmaceutical companies or initiated by researchers and health professionals.
5) Out of Pocket. In some cases, medicines and services that are not available by any of the above means may require out of pocket costs.
All the potential options for accessing breast cancer treatments should be discussed with your medical oncologist. Please visit here if you require any further information.
In Situ Vs Invasive Breast Cancers
The type of breast cancer can also refer to whether the cancer has spread or not. In situ breast cancer is a cancer that starts in a milk duct and has not grown into the rest of the breast tissue. The term invasive breast cancer is used to describe any type of breast cancer that has spread into the surrounding breast tissue.
Invasive breast cancer has spread into surrounding breast tissue. The most common types are;;invasive ductal carcinoma;and;invasive lobular carcinoma.;Invasive ductal carcinoma makes up about 70-80% of all breast cancers.;
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Staging And Management Of The Axilla
It is often assumed that preoperative imaging is useful in selecting patients undergoing BCT who require axillary dissection. However, the clinical question has shifted from the identification of any nodal metastases to identification of patients with 3 or more nodal metastases who are not candidates for sentinel node biopsy alone, and current imaging modalities do not reliably make this distinction. Pilewskie at al examined the utility of preoperative imaging in predicting the need for additional axillary surgery in 425 patients with clinical T1-2 N0 tumors and 1 or 2 positive sentinel nodes. Among patients with abnormal axillary nodes identified by mammogram, axillary ultrasound, or MRI, 71% did not require ALND using Z0011 criteria. Even among patients with a needle biopsy demonstrating nodal metastases, only 45% required ALND. Thus, preoperative axillary imaging in clinically node-negative patients should be reserved for those undergoing mastectomy where the finding of any nodal disease is an indication for ALND or preoperative chemotherapy to downstage the axilla.
Common Types Of Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer
Chemotherapy drugs are a specific class of medications called cytotoxic agents. Theyre designed to kill cancer cells.
Cancer cells grow faster than regular cells. These drugs disrupt the growth of fast-growing cells and leave slower-growing cells generally unharmed.
Some chemotherapy drugs damage the genetic material of the cells. Others interfere with the way the cells divide. However, some also affect other fast-growing cells in the body, such as hair, blood cells, and cells in the stomach lining and mouth. This accounts for some of the more common side effects.
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