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What Are The Side Effects Of Breast Cancer

This Woman’s Covid Vaccine Side Effect Led To A Stage 2 Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer?

“As much as COVID sucked-it saved me,” Jennifer Mosely said about her cancer diagnosis.

A woman is Iowa is speaking out about an unexpected benefit of the COVID-19 vaccine: Getting the shot resulted in a stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis.

Jennifer Moseley told the Des Moines Register that she noticed a swollen lymph node in her left arm two days after receiving her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in April. But because the swollen lymph node was in the same arm where she had the vaccine, she didn’t think much about it.

Two days later, the lymph node was still tender. Moseley, who has a family history of breast cancer, realized she hadn’t done a breast self-exam in a while. When she did the self-exam, she found a lump the size of a flattened grape in her right breast.

Moseley made an appointment with her doctor to get the lump checked out, which led to a mammogram and a biopsy. Finally, in mid-May, she received a diagnosis: She had stage 2A invasive lobular carcinoma breast cancer, the same cancer that killed her cousin at age 38.

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Moseley’s vaccine didn’t cause the lump in her breast, it started a train of thought that motivated her to check herself for signs of cancer. This, Dr. Adalja points out, was a “good coincidence.”

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What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Breast pain can be a symptom of 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.

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Talk To Your Medical Team

If you are experiencing any unpleasant side effects dont suffer in silence. Talk with your breast care/oncology nurse or doctor about any side effects you may be having. There may be ways to reduce the intensity of your symptoms or there may be alternative medications that suit you better.

Find out more about the side effects of differenthormone therapies.

Radiation Therapy Timing And Breast Reconstruction

Pin on Breast Cancer Facts

The timing of radiation treatment in your overall breast cancer treatment plan depends on your individual situation and the characteristics of the breast cancer.

In many cases, radiation therapy is given after surgery. If chemotherapy is planned after surgery, radiation usually follows chemotherapy.

If youre having mastectomy and have decided to have breast reconstruction, its important to know that radiation can cause a reconstructed breast to lose volume and change color, texture, and appearance.

In particular, radiation therapy is known to cause complications with implant reconstruction. Research also suggests that a reconstructed breast may interfere with radiation therapy reaching the area affected by cancer, though this can vary on a case-by-case basis.

For these reasons, some surgeons advise waiting until after radiation and other treatments, such as chemotherapy, are completed before breast reconstruction surgery is done.

Other surgeons may recommend a more staged approach, which places a tissue expander after mastectomy to preserve the shape of the breast during radiation treatments. Once radiation is completed and the tissues have recovered, the expander that was used to maintain the shape of the breast is removed and replaced with tissue from another part of the body or a breast implant.

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The Effects Of Breast Cancer On The Body

At first, breast cancer affects the breast area only. You may notice changes in your breasts themselves. Other symptoms arent so obvious until you detect them during a self-exam.

Sometimes your doctor may also see breast cancer tumors on a mammogram or other imaging machine before you notice symptoms.

Like other cancers, breast cancer is broken down into stages. Stage 0 is the earliest stage with the fewest noticeable symptoms. Stage 4 indicates the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

If breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it may cause symptoms in those particular areas, too. Affected areas may include the:

  • liver
  • bones
  • brain

The early effects of breast cancer can depend on the exact type of breast cancer you have.

Reflux Heartburn And Gerd

Heartburn, reflux, and GERD may occur during cancer treatment. Cancer treatments or medications may affect parts of your digestive tract and cause the food and liquids in your stomach to reflux into your esophagus . If you have reflux, you may have symptoms such as swallowing difficulty, a sore throat, sour taste in your mouth, heartburn and painful digestion.

Talk with your healthcare team for the best care for reflux. Here are some tips and guidelines to help control reflux:

Go small.

  • Eat 5-6 small meals or snacks throughout the day. Smaller amounts of food are easier for the body to digest and absorb.
  • Smaller amounts of food also mean there is less food that can travel back up the food pipe.

Choose lean.

  • Avoid fried and fatty foods. These foods are hard to digest and stay in your stomach for a long time. Time increases risk for reflux.
  • Choose baked, broiled, or grilled foods instead.

Dress for comfort.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes, especially clothes that are not tight around your stomach.
  • Clothes that are tight around the stomach can trigger reflux.

Avoid smoking and alcohol.

  • Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can trigger reflux.
  • Instead of after-dinner drinks and cigarettes, chew sugarless non-mint gum for 30 minutes after meals. This encourages food to move through your digestive system.

Sit up.

Slow down.

Choose well.

Write it down.

Avoid eating before bed.

Ask for help.

  • Prepare foods in ways that make them easier to eat.
  • Cook foods until they are soft and tender.
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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

    Why Does Radiation Therapy Cause Side Effects

    Side Effects of Radiation Therapy After Breast Cancer

    High doses of radiation therapy are used to destroy cancer cells. Side effects come from damage to healthy cells and tissues near the treatment area. There have been major research advances in radiation therapy in recent years that have made it more precise. This has reduced this treatments side effects, compared to radiation therapy techniques used in the past.

    Some people experience few side effects from radiation therapy. Or even none. Other people experience more severe side effects.

    Reactions to the radiation therapy often start during the second or third week of treatment. Or, they may last for several weeks after the final treatment. Some side effects may be long term. Talk with your treatment team about what to expect.

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    Managing Sexual Side Effects

    Each type of cancer treatmentchemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and hormonal therapycan cause possible sexual side effects. Side effects may vary depending on the type of cancer, the specific mode of treatment, and the individual’s response to treatment. Talk to your healthcare team about what you should expect from treatment.

    Lack of Desire

    During and after cancer treatment, many women report a lack of sexual desire. Lack of desire may come from hormonal changes such as early menopause or other side effects, making sex unenjoyable.

    • Rethink what sex and intimacy mean.
    • Do not expect sex after cancer to be exactly the same as sex before cancer. Your body has been through a lot of changes.
    • Be patient. It may take some time to discover what is comfortable and pleasurable for you.
  • Ask your doctor about estrogen therapies to increase estrogen and if they are safe for you to use.
  • Low levels of estrogen can cause female sexual dysfunction.
  • Estrogen therapies can help with lack of desire and dryness.
  • Estrogen therapies come in pills, creams, patches, and vaginal rings.
  • If your cancer is hormone driven, estrogen therapy may not be safe for you.
  • If you are taking anti-depressants or pain medication, talk to your doctor about adjusting your dosage.
  • Both these medications can cause lack of desire.
  • Manage other side effects such as dryness, pain, nausea, or fatigue that may be causing your lack of desire.
  • Dryness

  • Try vaginal moisturizers to improve overall dryness.
  • Pain

    Simple Changes To Help Improve Your Appetite

        • Try eating small amounts throughout the day rather than sitting down to large meals at set times.
        • Explain to friends and family why youre not eating big family meals. Make it clear that this is a positive strategy rather than a sign you are not eating enough.
        • Make it easy to eat. Stock up on nourishing foods that are easy to prepare, ask others to prepare food for you, or use healthy, ready-prepared foods when you are too tired to cook.
        • Reduce food and cooking smells turn on a fan or open the windows.
        • Where possible, choose nutritious foods you enjoy but dont force yourself to eat things you dont fancy just because theyre good for you.
        • Keep a glass of water handy if your mouth is dry, but restrict yourself to small sips too much water may make you feel full. You could also try sucking on small ice cubes.
        • Dont rush, and dont force yourself to eat.
        • If you are finding it difficult to eat solid food, drink protein and carbohydrate mixes for energy, protein and vitamins.
        • Soft foods may be more appealing if your mouth is dry or sore. Try soft, slow-cooked stews and soups, custards and yoghurts.

    People who eat a quality, balanced diet dont generally need supplements. However, when you have cancer, problems with appetite may mean your diet isnt as balanced as it could be. Daily multivitamin and mineral supplements might help improve your appetite. Your doctor, pharmacist or dietitian will be able to help you find the most appropriate ones for you.

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    Reducing Your Risk Of Infection And Bleeding

    You can help reduce the risk of infection and bleeding by:

    • Regularly washing and drying your hands thoroughly
    • Cleaning any cuts and grazes and cover with a dressing or plaster
    • Avoiding people who are unwell or may be infectious
    • Eating as healthily as possible, and following any advice about food and drink given to you by your hospital
    • Drinking plenty of fluids
    • Storing and cooking food correctly

    Study Design And Setting

    An athlete

    In this study, a semi-structured interview method was used to determine patients personal experiences and the side-effects they felt undergoing chemotherapy. This design was chosen to comprehend the situation among Malaysian patients from patients personal experiences, besides capturing new insights and cultivating a deeper understanding of a particular phenomenon which would help the researchers in obtaining data on patients experiences that could not be captured through a quantitative study. The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia , and it was carried out on patients from two tertiary care hospitals in Malaysia as well as the National Cancer Society Malaysia.

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    Effects On Your Concentration

    Some people find treatment affects their ability to concentrate and makes them more forgetful.

    This is sometimes called chemo brain or chemo fog, but your treatment team may call it cognitive impairment. It usually improves over time after treatment has finished, but for some people it can continue for longer.

    Take Hormone Therapies As Prescribed:

    If you have been prescribed endocrine therapy its very important to take it exactly as prescribed. Research has shown that many women dont take their medication every day, either because they forget or because of the side effects. Endocrine therapy reduces the chance of breast cancer recurrence and when not taken as prescribed, the drugs are less effective.

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    Prescription Medications For Pain

    Panadeine Forte is a stronger codeine-containing analgesic, but you will need a prescription from your oncologist or GP to purchase it.

    Opiate painkillers are prescription drugs that provide the backbone of managing moderate or more severe pain. There are quite a number of different versions of opiate painkillers, and new ones are introduced from time to time. The usual approach is the use of a slow-release form these are either oral medications or patches that are placed on the skin and renewed every few days. Examples are:

        • Oxycontin, Targin and Endone
        • MSContin or Kapanol
        • Jurnista and Dilaudid
        • Durogesic patches.

    You may also be able to use fast acting pain medication for what is called breakthrough pain pain that occurs despite the slow-release pain medication. Examples of these fast acting medications are:

        • Endone, Dilaudid
        • morphine mixture
        • Actiq, Abstral .

    The steroid medication dexamethasone can sometimes be very helpful for pain associated with metastases, such as bone or liver metastases.

    Concentration And Memory Problems

    Radiation Side Effects Common In Breast Cancer Treatment

    After treatment for breast cancer, some women have difficulties concentrating and remembering things. Doctors call this cognitive impairment.

    It is also sometimes called chemo brain or chemo fog. But these changes can also happen with other cancer treatments, such as hormonal therapy.

    An early menopause may result in similar symptoms, or make them worse.

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    Estrogen Exposure And Breastfeeding

    Breastfeeding for over 1 year appears to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

    Extended exposure to estrogen appears to increase the risk of breast cancer.

    This could be due to a person starting their periods earlier or entering menopause at a later than average age. Between these times, estrogen levels are higher.

    Breastfeeding, especially for over 1 year, appears to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer. This is possibly due to the drop in estrogen exposure that follows pregnancy and breastfeeding.

    Can Other Drugs Interfere With Hormone Therapy

    Certain drugs, including several commonly prescribed antidepressants , inhibit an enzyme called CYP2D6. This enzyme plays a critical role in the body’s use of tamoxifen because CYP2D6 metabolizes, or breaks down, tamoxifen into molecules, or metabolites, that are much more active than tamoxifen itself.

    The possibility that SSRIs might, by inhibiting CYP2D6, slow the metabolism of tamoxifen and reduce its effectiveness is a concern given that as many as one-fourth of breast cancer patients experience clinical depression and may be treated with SSRIs. In addition, SSRIs are sometimes used to treat hot flashes caused by hormone therapy.

    Many experts suggest that patients who are taking antidepressants along with tamoxifen should discuss treatment options with their doctors, such as switching from an SSRI that is a potent inhibitor of CYP2D6, such as paroxetine hydrochloride , to one that is a weaker inhibitor, such as sertraline or citalopram , or to an antidepressant that does not inhibit CYP2D6, such as venlafaxine . Or doctors may suggest that their postmenopausal patients take an aromatase inhibitor instead of tamoxifen.

    Other medications that inhibit CYP2D6 include the following:

    • Quinidine, which is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms

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    Tips For Easing Side Effects Caused By Immunotherapy:

    • Eating bland foods and introducing other foods slowly may help reduce nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.
    • While the loss of appetite is common, be patient with yourself as your body recovers from treatments. Start by eating small amounts of food and then increase over time.
    • Coughing can cause a sore throat, so keep throat lozenges on hand.
    • Fatigue is also a common side effect of immunotherapy. Allow yourself to rest and ask other people to help with daily activities as much as possible.

    For more cancer treatment tips and side effect management, you can visit our Cancer Treatment Tips page.

    Tips Easing The Side Effects Of Chemo:


    Short-term side effects may be reduced by taking a little extra care of yourself in the days before and after treatment. Your white blood count is lower after breast cancer treatment, which is why many of these short-term side effects happen.

    • Get plenty of rest
    • Eat a balanced diet
    • Try to minimize stress as much as possible.
    • Wash your hands regularly and reduce your exposure to germs while your white blood count is lower.
    • Ask your doctor about flu vaccinations or other precautions you should take during the sick seasons.
    • If hair loss occurs, you may look into options such as a headscarf or wig or speak with your doctor about ways to prevent hair loss.

    Make plans to take off work or school in the days following your treatments so you may rest. You may also want to ask a family member or friend to help you for a few days while recovering from the treatments.

    For long-term side effects, you may consider some additional planning. For instance, if youre concerned about infertility, then you may want to make arrangements to freeze your eggs before you begin treatment. Your doctor will provide other information regarding managing heart damage or bone thinning.

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