Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms And Diagnosis
The most common breast cancer metastasis sites are the bones, the lungs, the brain, and the liver. The symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can be very different depending on the location of the cancer:
- constant back, bone, or joint pain
- difficulty with urinating ; this can be a sign that the nerves in your back are being pinched by a cancer
- numbness or weakness anywhere in your body
- a constant dry cough
- abdominal bloating, pain, or tenderness
- constant nausea, vomiting, or weight loss
- severe headaches
- vision problems
Signs Or Symptoms Of Breast Cancer That You Should Not Ignore
Heres what Ive learned since my own breast cancer diagnosis:
There are a number of ways to detect breast cancer that have nothing to do with a lump. Thats because breast cancer isnt one disease- its umbrella for a bunch of different type of cancers that can all occur in the breast.
In addition to feeling a lump in the breast or armpit, breast cancer can present as:
1. A new thickening in the breast.
Especially if it is asymmetric .
2. Dimpling or indentations in the skin.
If ANYTHING looks funky or asymmetrical, get it checked out.
3. Changes to the nipple: inversions, hardening, scabbing or flaking.
Especially if its only present in one breast. Noticing a trend here?
4. Nipple discharge- especially if its bloody and especially if its only coming from one breast.
I want to metaphorically star this one, because this is the one that flagged my screening. Nipple discharge can start out subtle- like a small spot in your bra.
Personally, when I noticed this I didnt worry because it hadnt been so long since I breastfed my son. I was used to nipple discharge.
If you think youre done lactating and you still have discharge, get it checked out.
5. Changes to the color or thickness of the skin on the breast.
If its a change to your breast, call it in. Theres never harm in checking it out.
Symptoms For Specific Types Of Cancer
Each form of breast cancer develops in a different part of the breast and can affect different types of tissue.
Since many breast cancers cause no symptoms, people should attend regular screenings. This can help identify the disease in its early stages.
Below, we outline the types of breast cancer and their symptoms.
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Less Common Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
The term breast cancer is enough to fill a womans head with many thoughts. But what causes breast cancer? What symptoms and signs are associated with breast cancer? And what do you do if you find a lump in your breast?
Perhaps youre instantly reminded of a friend whos currently undergoing chemo or radiation. Or, you think back fondly to a relative who lost her battle to breast cancer. Perhaps youre thinking, Its about time I call for my first mammogram, or, I need to call to make an appointment for my yearly exam. As women, we know we need to call and have that yearly checkup. We also know how to self-check for lumps or other signs of obvious breast distress. What we may not know are the lesser-known signs of breast cancer. And one of the best ways to stop cancer in its tracks is to catch it early.;
Read on to learn more about all of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and how to perform a thorough self-exam, and what to do if you find a lump in your breast.
Less Common Breast Cancers
Some less common types of breast cancer include:
- Triple-negative breast cancer: The name refers to cancer cells that do not contain estrogen or progesterone receptors and produce little HER2 protein. As a result, the cancer does not respond to hormone therapy. Both lobular and ductal carcinomas can be triple-negative.
- Inflammatory breast cancer: This develops when cancer cells block lymph vessels within the skin of the breast, causing the breast to swell.
- Phyllodes tumors: These develop within the connective tissues of the breast. While most are benign, some are cancerous.
- Pagets disease: This type of cancer starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the nipple.
- Angiosarcoma of the breast: This type of cancer starts in blood or lymph vessels and can affect the breast tissue.
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Early Signs Of Breast Cancer
Pinpointing breast cancer in its earliest stages isnt easy becauseare different for everyone. Sometimes there is a palpable lump or tenderness. Very often, there is neither. Generally, breast cancer shows no symptoms in the early stage.
However, there are certain changes in the breast that may indicate breast cancer in both men and women.
Whether you are a man or a woman, its important to become familiar with your breasts so you can recognize when changes occur and seek timely treatment. Know the facts and understand your risk factors for the disease, such as , by reviewing these frequently asked questions.
Breast Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
Most breast cancer symptoms are discovered by women during regular dailyactivities like bathing. Knowing how your breasts look and feel, andbeing alert for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, like a lump,can help you detect the disease early, when it’s easiest to treat.
Most breast changes are due to hormonal cycles or conditions that are less worrying than breast cancer. However, if you experience any of the following breast cancer symptoms, even if they seem mild, see your doctor.
- A lump in the breast or armpit is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Patients often describe this as a ball or a nodule. Lumps may feel soft and rubbery or hard. Unless you have small breasts or the lump is very large, you probably wont be able to see it.
- Skin redness
- Nipple changes, including the nipple turning inward, pulling to one side or changing direction
- Ulcer on the breast or nipple
- Thickening of the skin, resulting in an orange-peel texture;
Though rare, men can also get breast cancer. The most common symptoms of male breast cancer are a lump, discharge or dimpling.
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Signs Of Papillary Carcinoma
A routine mammogram may help you detect papillary carcinoma in its early stages of development.
The following signs are common with papillary carcinoma:
- Discharge from the nipples
Almost half of all papillary carcinomas occur below the nipple. This may result in bloody discharge from the nipples.
Most often papillary carcinoma is detected as a lump or cyst of around 2 cm to 3 cm in size. This may be felt with the hand when conducting breast self-examination.
Any Nipple Dischargeparticularly Clear Discharge Or Bloody Discharge
It is also important to note that a milky discharge that is present when a woman is not breastfeeding should be checked by her doctor, although it is not linked with breast cancer.
Let your doctor know about any nipple discharge, clear, bloody or milky. The most concerning discharges are bloody or clear.
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Pain As A Side Effect Of Cancer
When the cancer itself causes pain, its often due to a tumor. As a tumor grows, it may put pressure on the surrounding area. Tumors that press on nerves, bones or organs may result in pain.
Two common types of pain caused by cancerous tumors are:
- Spinal cord compression pain. This condition occurs when tumors grow near the spine and constrain spinal cord nerves, leading to pain in the back or neck that is often intense. Other symptoms may include pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Sudden movements such as coughing or sneezing may aggravate this type of pain. Spinal cord compression is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment to shrink the tumoroften using radiation, steroids, surgery, or a combination of these therapies. Without treatment, theres a risk of serious complications, including paralysis.
- Bone pain. When cancer develops in the bones or spreads to them, it weakens them and damages nearby nerves, causing pain. This type of pain may be alleviated with pain medications, treatments to fight the cancer, and drugs or therapies to strengthen the affected bones.
Effect On Black Women
Many Black women do not present with any symptoms of breast cancer. Subtle signs like a darkening of the breasts or dimpling of the skin may be warning signs of breast cancer, but Black women tend to have denser breast tissue, which may mask these signs.
To stay on top of your breast health, its important to:
- See a primary care doctor regularly
- Perform a routine self-breast examination
- Follow the American Heart Association and USPFTF guidelines on mammograms
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Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
It is important to see your GP if you have any of the following symptoms or notice anything that is unusual for you.
Possible signs and symptoms of breast cancer can include:
- a lump in the breast
- thickening of the skin or tissue of the breast, or dimpling of the skin of the breast
- a lump or swelling in either armpit
- a change in the shape or size of the breast, such as swelling in all or part of the breast
- a nipple turning in
- a rash on the nipple
- discharge or bleeding from the nipple
- pain or discomfort in the breast that does not go away, but this is rare.
A lump in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer, but most breast lumps are not cancer. They are usually lumps either filled with fluid or made up of fibrous and glandular tissue .
But it is very important to get any of these symptoms or anything else that is unusual for you checked by your GP.
The earlier you get a diagnosis and start treatment, the more successful treatment is likely to be..
During pregnancy, a womans breast tissue changes. Sometimes a lump or another breast cancer symptom could be confused with this. If you are pregnant and have any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor. Your symptoms should be checked in the same way as in women who are not pregnant.
We understand that showing any symptoms of what could be cancer is worrying. The most important thing is to speak to your GP as soon as possible. We’re also here if you need someone to talk to. You can:
Breast Cancer Types And Symptoms
There are several kinds of breast cancer. Many of them share symptoms.
Symptoms of ductal carcinoma
This is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in your ducts. About 1 in 5 new breast cancers are ductal carcinoma in situ . This means you have cancer in the cells that line your ducts, but it hasnât spread into nearby tissue.
You may not notice any symptoms of ductal carcinoma. It can also cause a breast lump or bloody discharge.
Symptoms of lobular carcinoma
This kind begins in the glands that make milk, called lobules. Itâs the second most common type of breast cancer. Symptoms include:
- Fullness, thickening, or swelling in one area
- Nipples that are flat or point inward
Symptoms of invasive breast cancer
Breast cancer thatâs spread from where it began into the tissues around it is called invasive or infiltrating. You may notice:
- A lump in your breast or armpit. You might not be able to move it separately from your skin or move it at all.
- One breast that looks different from the other
- A rash or skin thatâs thick, red, or dimpled like an orange
- Skin sores
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Muscle weakness
Symptoms of triple-negative breast cancer
Breast cancer is called triple-negative if it doesnât have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone and doesnât make a lot of a protein called HER2. This kind tends to grow and spread faster than other types, and doctors treat it differently.
Symptoms of male breast cancer
- A small, hard cyst
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The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca
At the Breast Cancer Centers at each of our CTCA® hospitals, located across the nation, our cancer experts are devoted to a single missiontreating breast cancer patients with compassion and precision. Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and coordinated by a registered oncology nurse, who helps track the various appointments, follow up on tests and answer questions that come up along the way. Your care team also may include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with advanced training in helping patients restore function and appearance. Fertility preservation and genetic testing;are also available for qualifying patients who need them.
Our pathologists and oncologists are experienced and trained in tools designed to diagnose, stage and treat different types of breast cancer, from early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ;to complex diseases such as triple-negative;and inflammatory breast cancer. As part of our patient-centered care model, which is designed to help you keep strong during treatment, your multidisciplinary care team may recommend various evidence-informed supportive therapies, such as naturopathic support, psychosocial support, nutritional support, physical and occupational therapy;and pain management. The entire team works together with a whole-person focus, which is at the heart of our centers dedication to personalized and comprehensive care.
Symptoms Specific To Invasive And Non
Breast cancer is a complex condition; for more information, please refer to our breast cancer page.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is a specific type of carcinoma in which the cells that line your milk ducts have become cancerous, but the abnormal cells have not spread into the nearby breast tissue. Because the cancer cells have not invaded nearby tissue, doctors consider DCIS to be non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer.
Symptoms of breast tumors can vary from one person to the next, and vary from one type of breast cancer to the next, but some of the most common early signs of breast cancer can include:
- Swelling, redness, or other visible skin changes occurring in just one breast or both breasts
- A change in the shape of one or both of your breasts, or an increase in size
- Discharge other than milk from your nipple
- Changes in the appearance of one or both of your nipples
- General pain in any area of your breast
- Lumps or bumps that you can feel on or deep inside the breast
In another type of breast cancer, known as lobular carcinoma in situ , abnormal cells form in the glands that produce milk. While LCIS involves the development of abnormal cells in the breast, it is not a type of cancer a diagnosis of LCIS does mean you have an increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer.
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What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer
Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer, and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.
Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two, and the presence of these symptoms and signs do not automatically mean that you have breast cancer.
By performing monthly;breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast. ;Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual.
Pagets Disease Of The Breast
This is a rare skin condition that is sometimes a sign of an underlying breast cancer. The symptoms are a red, scaly rash on the nipple and surrounding area. This;can be itchy and looks a bit like eczema. It is sometimes mistaken for eczema at first.
See your doctor if you have any changes in the skin of your breast.;
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How Does Breast Cancer Start
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast grow out of control. Different kinds of breast cells develop into different . Most breast cancers begin in the breast ducts or lobules . These are known respectively as invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. Other less common types of breast cancer include inflammatory breast cancer and;ductal carcinoma in situ.
Though breast cancer is most common in women, men can develop it as well. A mans lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 2,620 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Be Aware Of Your Breasts To Detect Breast Cancer Symptoms Early
Studies show that regular breast self-exams are not the best way to detect breast cancer early.
What does work? Being aware of how your breasts look and feel and seeing a doctor as soon as you notice changes or abnormalities.
The vast majority of breast cancers are found during daily activities like showering, applying deodorant or even scratching, says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center.
Bevers advises women to see a doctor if they have one or more symptoms of breast cancer, no matter how mild they may seem.
You dont need to wait for any particular size or severity of symptoms to get checked out, she says. “The earlier that breast cancer is detected, the better our chances of treating it successfully.”
And you shouldnt ignore symptoms just because you breasts don’t hurt. Pain is rarely a symptom of breast cancer, she says.;
The vast majority of breast cancers are found during daily activitieslike showering, applying deodorant or even scratching.
Therese Bevers, M.D.
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