Lymphatic And Vascular System
There is a lymphatic and vascular network inside the breast. The vascular system consists of blood vessels, and the lymphatic system consists of lymph channels.
These two systems work together to carry blood and fluid to and from the breast tissue to the rest of the body.
If breast cancer enters these systems, it can travel throughout the body, increasing the chance of it spreading or coming back.
Lymph nodes are clusters of bean-shaped cells present throughout the lymphatic system. These are immune cells that act as filters. They are the first place breast cancer is likely to spread.
You Cant Stop Itching Your Nipples
Sometimes the girls just need a good scratch, especially if youre wearing a bra edged with lace or sequins. But if your nips are constantly itchy theres a good possibility something else is up and you need to get them checked, Dr. Patt says.
Many things can cause itchy nipples, including a yeast infection or other infection, allergies, and irritation from clothing. But there is a rare type of breast cancer that can cause a dry, red, itchy rash to appear on or around your nipples, similar to the type you get with eczema, she explains.
Regardless of the cause, an itchy rash is one symptom you should always have your doctor take a look at, particularly if it doesnt go away after a week or two.
Changes To Your Breasts
Breast cancer usually starts in one breast. According to the American Cancer Society, the most common sign of breast cancer is a newly formed mass or lump in your breast.
The mass or lump is usually irregularly shaped and painless. However, some cancerous masses can be painful and round in shape. This is why any lump or mass ought to be screened for cancer.
Invasive ductal carcinoma causes lumps and bumps in the breasts. This is a type of breast cancer that forms inside the milk ducts.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. It makes up about 80 percent of all diagnoses. Its also more likely to spread to other areas of the body.
Invasive lobular carcinoma can cause breast thickening. This type of breast cancer starts in the glands that produce breast milk. The Cleveland Clinic estimates that up to 15 percent of all breast cancers are invasive lobular carcinomas.
You may notice your breasts have changed color or size. They may also be red or swollen from the cancerous tumor. While breast cancers themselves arent usually painful, the resulting swelling can cause breast pain. The cancer lumps may still be painful in some cases, though.
With breast cancer, your nipples may also undergo some noticeable changes.
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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.;
Red Skin On The Breast
It’s not just the nipple that may indicate possible breast cancer – it can be the skin on the boob too. “Red skin on the breast is can sometimes be a sign or symptom of breast cancer, although it is one that is less common,” explains Mr Daniel Leff, Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon at The Breast Unit at The Harley Street Clinic. “One form of breast cancer that presents with red skin on the breast could be inflammatory breast cancer which can make a large area of the breast skin go red, as well as swollen,” he adds.
As with the other symptoms, however, there’s no need to assume it definitely means breast cancer, as it could be something much less cause for concern. “It’s important to note that red skin suggests inflammation which could just be the signs of an infection,” reassures medical expert Leff. “Infections in the breast tend to be most common in women who are breast feeding, who are likely to get conditions such as mastitis â which can make your breast quite sore and painful, and make it difficult to breastfeed, although if caught quickly this can be rectified with oral antibiotics and hospital admission might be avoided.” If you’re not, breastfeeding and you notice red skin on the breast, Leff suggests seeking medical advice as it may need further investigation.
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Grade Of Breast Cancer
The grade describes the appearance of the cancer cells.
- Low grade the cells, although abnormal, appear to be growing slowly.
- Medium grade the cells look more abnormal than low-grade cells.
- High grade the cells look even more abnormal and are more likely to grow quickly.
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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 Is A Normal Breast
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
You Feel A Strange Tickling Sensation
How your breasts feel internally can be just as important as how they feel on the outside, says Sherry Ross, MD, an OB-GYN and author of She-ology. Some women report feeling a sensation almost like theyre being tickled from the inside, their breast feels like its buzzing or prickly inside, or like their breast milk is letting down , she says.
Weird feelings can happen for no reason at all but if youre experiencing strange sensations in your breast that are abnormal and recurring, its time to call your doc, she says.
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A Lump In Your Breast
A lump or mass in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Lumps are often hard and painless, although some are painful. However, not all lumps are cancer. Benign breast conditions that can also cause lumps.
Still, its important to have your doctor check out any new lump or mass right away. If it does turn out to be cancer, the sooner its diagnosed the better.
Immune And Excretory Systems
In the later stages of breast cancer, the tumors have spread to other lymph nodes. The underarms are some of the first affected areas. This is because of how close they are to the breasts. You may feel tenderness and swelling under your arms.
Other lymph nodes can become affected because of the lymphatic system. While this system is usually responsible for transmitting healthy lymph throughout the body, it can also spread cancer tumors.
Tumors may spread through the lymphatic system to the lungs and liver. If the lungs are affected, you might experience:
- chronic cough
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Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer With Early Detection And Prevention
When it comes to cancer, early detection is important, but so is reducing your risk. There are several healthy lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Stay lean after menopause. Keep a healthy weight and a low amount of body fat. Eating a healthy diet can help.
Get active and sit less. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Do strength-training exercises at least two days a week.
Avoid alcohol. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman, and two drinks per day if you are a man.
Choose to breastfeed. Try to breastfeed exclusively for six months after giving birth, and continue even when other foods are introduced.
Manage hormones naturally. If you are going through menopause and trying to control the symptoms, try non-hormonal methods before turning to hormone replacement therapy.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, get regular;breast cancer screening exams. Screening exams can detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat.;Women age 25 to 39 should consider a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women 40 and older should get an annual breast exam and a screening mammogram.
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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Integrative Therapies For Metastatic Breast Cancer
You may find it beneficial to add integrative therapies;to your treatment plan. There are many evidence-informed integrative modalities to boost the mind and body. Practices like gentle yoga, meditation, massage and music therapy may feel enjoyable and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
To help our patients maintain quality of life after a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, our team of breast cancer experts may offer supportive care services to help manage side effects of the disease and its treatments. These may include:
Additional Tools For Diagnosing Advanced Breast Cancer
The additional tools below are often used specifically for diagnosing advanced cancer:
Sentinel lymph node biopsy: This procedure removes sentinel lymph node cells during surgery for examination. When breast cancer spreads, it often heads first to the lymph nodes.
Chest X-ray: This detailed image of the chest may help doctors see whether cancer has spread to the bones.
Computed tomography scan: Also known as a CAT scan, this procedure takes detailed pictures of internal areas of the body using a computer linked to an X-ray machine. A dye may be used to help the organs show up more clearly in the images.
Bone scan: This procedure looks for bone metastasis, or cancer cells that have spread to the bone. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the blood, then detected with a scanner.
Positron emission tomography scan: A PET scan is a detailed imaging tool that uses a radioactive drug, known as a tracer, to search for cancer cells within your body.
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Changes In The Size Shape Or Appearance Of Your Breast
Your breasts change for completely normal reasons. Having your period, having children and aging can all influence how your breasts look and feel. But increases in breast size, and changes in breast shape and appearance especially over a short period of time should not be ignored.
When changes like these happen, it may look or feel like all or part of your breast has become swollen.
How Is Breast Cancer Treated
If the tests find cancer, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to eradicate the breast cancer, to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the breast, as well as to reduce the chance of the cancer traveling to a location outside of the breast. Treatment generally follows within a few weeks after the diagnosis.
The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of lab tests done on the cancer cells, and the stage, or extent, of the disease. Your doctor will usually consider your age and general health as well as your feelings about the treatment options.
Breast cancer treatments are local or systemic. Local treatments are used to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area, such as the breast. Surgery and radiation treatment are local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systemic treatments. A patient may have just one form of treatment or a combination, depending on her individual diagnosis.
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Men And Breast Cancer Warning Signs
Breast cancer isnt typically associated with people who were assigned male at birth. But male breast cancer can occur in rare instances at any age, although its more common in older men.
Many people dont realize that people assigned male at birth have breast tissue too, and those cells can undergo cancerous changes. Because male breast cells are much less developed than female breast cells, breast cancer isnt as common in this part of the population.
The most common symptom of breast cancer in people assigned male at birth is a lump in the breast tissue.
Other than a lump, symptoms of male breast cancer include:
- thickening of the breast tissue
- nipple discharge
- redness or scaling of the nipple
- a nipple that retracts or turns inward
- unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast
Most men dont regularly check their breast tissue for signs of lumps, so male breast cancer is often diagnosed much later.
Your Personal History Of Breast Cancer
If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past, you are more likely to develop a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is not considered a recurrence but a new breast cancer.
What to do: Follow your cancer teams instructions on monitoring to stay on top of this risk. Ask your doctor whether you should see a genetic counselor.
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What Should You Do If You Spot Any Of These Symptoms:
“Unfortunately, breast cancer is a common type of cancer that some women will encounter in their lifetime,” says Daniel Leff. According to Cancer Research UK, there are around 55,200 new cases of breast cancer every year, so the doctor says it’s “vital that women know the signs and symptoms, even the less common ones. If you do experience any of the above, seek medical advice from your GP who can refer you if necessary,” he adds.
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Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can have a number of symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.
Most breast lumps aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor. You should also see your GP if you notice any of the following:
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- discharge from either of your nipples;
- a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- dimpling on the skin of your breasts
- a rash on or around your nipple
- a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
Breast pain alone isn’t a symptom of breast cancer.
Learn more about the symptoms of breast cancer
After examining your breasts, your GP may refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests.;This might include a mammography ;or a biopsy.
Read more about;breast screening;and;how breast cancer is diagnosed
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What Causes Breast Cancer
Breast cancer happens when there are changes in the genetic material . Often, the exact cause of these genetic changes is unknown.
But sometimes these genetic changes are inherited, meaning that you are born with them. Breast cancer that is caused by inherited genetic changes is called hereditary breast cancer.
There are also certain genetic changes that can raise your risk of breast cancer, including changes called BRCA1 and BRCA2. These two changes also raise your risk of ovarian and other cancers.
Besides genetics, your lifestyle and the environment can affect your risk of breast cancer.
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.
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