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What Breast Cancer Does To The Body

A Little Bit About The Internal Mammary Lymph Nodes

Cancer Facts : How Does Breast Cancer Harm the Body?

The internal mammary nodes are located behind the ribs. Ribs are made of bone, but in the front, they turn into cartilage just before they join the sternum.

So, each rib attaches to the sternum with cartilage and each of these cartilage bars is around 5 cm long. Thus, it can be very difficult to remove an internal mammary node. There is an internal mammary artery and vein along with the lymph ducts and other veins.

If you need to remove an internal mammary node, the cartilage in front needs to be cut out. Cartilage, unfortunately, does not grow back or heal and this will leave a gap which makes the rib essentially useless.

So, it is a judgement call by the surgeon as to whether or not one should attempt a surgical approach to remove internal mammary nodes with positive metastasis. This is because surgical removal is just too damaging to the function of the chest and ribs.

However, electron beam radiotherapy is an effective treatment for internal mammary nodes. The electrons penetrate to about the correct depth to reach the internal mammary nodes.

Treatment of Stage IIIa Breast Cancer

The treatment for women with stage IIIa breast cancers tends to be a modified radical mastectomy and locoregional radiotherapy.

Often, chemotherapy is given as adjuvant therapy, but in some cases , pre-operative chemotherapy is also recommended. Breast conservation is generally not a good option with stage IIIa breast cancers.

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How Does Breast Cancer Start

All cancers start the same way, when cells grow faster than they should. Normally, your cells divide and make new cells to replace old cells that die off.

But cancer cells have changes in their DNA that let off uncontrolled cell growth. You may have inherited these faulty genes from your parents. Or you could have been exposed to things in the environment that damaged the DNA.

In breast cancer, the abnormal cells grow in the small tubes that carry milk to the nipples or in the glands that make milk inside your breasts. These growths are called tumors.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

The signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A new lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the armpit
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast. It may look like the skin of an orange.
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk. The discharge might happen suddenly, be bloody, or happen in only one breast.
  • Scaly, red, or swollen skin in the nipple area or the breast
  • Pain in any area of the breast

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Staying On Track With Radiation Treatments

The benefits of radiation therapy strongly depend on getting the full recommended dose without significant breaks, because:

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    The full dose of radiation is needed to get rid of any cancer cells remaining after surgery.

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    Radiation therapy is most effective when given continuously on schedule. In the past, it was given every day, 5 days a week, for 5 to 7 weeks. Accelerated, also called hypofractionated, radiation therapy schedules deliver about the same total dose of radiation over a shorter schedule usually 3 to 4 weeks, which can be more convenient. Partial breast radiation can be completed in 1 to 3 weeks. Also, by seeing your doctor regularly during and after treatment, you can best deal with any side effects.

Why you might have problems sticking to your radiation therapy plan:

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    The treatment schedule may conflict with job demands, family needs, or the distance you live from the treatment facility. This may cause you to miss or postpone appointments, even if youre on an accelerated schedule.

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    Skin irritation from radiation can cause soreness, peeling, and sometimes blisters. If you’ve also had lymph-node surgery, radiation treatment may worsen breast or underarm pain or discomfort. If you have these side effects, you might feel like stopping radiation.

Ways to overcome problems and stay on track with radiation treatment:

Changes To The Breast Or Chest Area

Effects of Lung Cancer on the Body

After breast-conserving surgery or a mastectomy, with or without reconstruction, be aware of any changes to either side, such as:

  • swelling on your chest, in your armpit or around your collarbone
  • a change in shape or size
  • a change in skin texture, such as puckering or dimpling
  • redness or a rash on or around the nipple or on the skin
  • liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing it
  • the nipple has become inverted or looks different, for example changed its position or shape
  • swelling in the arm or hand
  • a lump or thickening that feels different

COVID-19 booster vaccinations

Some people report swelling in the armpit or to the lymph nodes under the arm after a COVID-19 booster vaccination. This seems to be more common with the Moderna booster vaccination. If you notice any swelling following your booster vaccination, it should disappear within about 10 days, if not, or you have any concerns, contact your GP or treatment team.

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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.

Why Is It Important To Seek Psychological Help

Feeling overwhelmed is a perfectly normal response to a breast cancer diagnosis.

But negative emotions can cause women to stop doing things that are good for them and start doing things that are bad for anyone but especially worrisome for those with a serious disease.

Women with breast cancer may start eating poorly, for instance, eating fewer meals and choosing foods of lower nutritional value. They may cut back on their exercise. They may have trouble getting a good nights sleep. And they may withdraw from family and friends. At the same time, these women may use alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, or other drugs in an attempt to soothe themselves.

A breast cancer diagnosis can also lead to more severe problems. For some women, for example, the news leads to depression, which can make it more difficult for them to adjust, make the most of treatment, and take advantage of whatever sources of social support are available. Some women become so disheartened by the ordeal of having cancer that they refuse to undergo surgery or simply stop going to radiation or chemotherapy appointments.

Depression can also decrease womens survival, research shows. According to one analysis, mortality rates were as much as 26 times higher in patients with depressive symptoms and 39 times higher in patients who had been diagnosed with major depression.2

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What Is Breast Cancer In Men

Breast Cancer in men is a type of cancer that occurs in the non-functional milk ducts, glands, and breast tissues. Mens breasts have fatty tissues, breast cells, and ducts. Breast tissues in men are similar to that of a pre-puberty girl. These tissues in men do not grow much because they have low levels of female hormones. Cancer develops when healthy cells grow out of control, forming a mass of cells called a tumor.

A tumor can be malignant or benign. The tumor is malignant if it grows and spreads to other parts of the body. On the other hand, a benign tumor can grow but doesnt spread to other body parts. When Breast Cancer spreads to the other body parts through the lymph or blood, it is called metastasis.

Surgery To Remove Lymph Nodes

Breast Cancer : How Does Cancer Work in the Body?

Breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body. If it does spread, it usually first spreads to the lymph nodes in the armpit close to the breast. These lymph nodes drain the lymphatic fluid from the breast and arm.

It is important to know if there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the armpit and how many. This helps the doctors work out the stage of your cancer and plan the best treatment for you.

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What Is A Tumor

When cells divide when new cells are not needed, too much tissue is formed. This mass of extra tissue, called a tumor, can be benign or malignant.

  • Benign tumors:

  • Are rarely a threat to life

  • Do not come back in most cases

  • Do not spread to other parts of the body and the cells do not invade other tissues

  • Malignant tumors:

  • May be a threat to life

  • Can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs

  • Metastasize – cancer cells can break away from a malignant tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system to form secondary tumors in other parts of the body

  • Why It Spreads And Recurs

    You may be wondering why breast cancer cells travel at all. Or, why normal cells don’t spread around our bodies. Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways. One of these is that normal cells have what is known as “adhesion molecules.” These adhesion molecules act like glue and keep cells where they belong in a particular part of the body.

    Normal cells also have “boundaries” or ways in which cells communicate with each other. This is like one country saying to another “you don’t belong here.” Cancer cells, in contrast, don’t respect these cellular communications, essentially ignoring the “fences” between different tissues.

    Yet another confusing topic when talking about breast cancer spread is why it can happen years or even decades later. We know that, especially with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers, cancer can seemingly disappear only to recur many years after the original tumor. Nobody is certain exactly how this happens, but there are theories about recurrence that suggest that some breast cancer cells are hardier than others and that these cancer “stem cells” are able to lie dormant even through treatment.

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    What Happens After The Local Breast Cancer Treatment

    Following local breast cancer treatment, the treatment team will determine the likelihood that the cancer will recur outside the breast. This team usually includes a medical oncologist, a specialist trained in using medicines to treat breast cancer. The medical oncologist, who works with the surgeon, may advise the use of the drugs like tamoxifen or anastrozole or possibly chemotherapy. These treatments are used in addition to, but not in place of, local breast cancer treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy.

    After treatment for breast cancer, it is especially important for a woman to continue to do a monthly breast examination. Regular examinations will help you detect local recurrences. Early signs of recurrence can be noted in the incision area itself, the opposite breast, the axilla , or supraclavicular region .

    Maintaining your follow-up schedule with your physician is also necessary so problems can be detected when treatment can be most effective. Your health care provider will also be able to answer any questions you may have about breast self-examination after the following procedures.

    Changes In The Breast:

    Pin on Breast Cancer Facts

    The primary change you will notice is a change in the breast. It majorly starts with one breast. A mass or lump formation takes place, which results in an irregular shape. In this stage, it is painless. Invasive ductal carcinoma is responsible for bump and lump formation in the breast. It is the type of cancer that takes place inside the milk duct. Apart from it, invasive lobular carcinoma contributes to breast thickening. This takes place in the glands responsible for producing breast milk.

    Some changes will be noticed in the shape and size of the breast, along with color.

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    Breast Cancer: How Your Mind Can Help Your Body

    Emotional turmoil in response to a diagnosis of breast cancer can affect a persons physical health as well as psychological well-being.

    Breast cancer: How your mind can help your body.

    According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 230,000 women in the United States learn that they have breast cancer each year.1 Because many of them have no family history of breast cancer or other known risk factors, the diagnosis often comes as a devastating surprise. The emotional turmoil that results can affect womens physical health as well as their psychological well-being.

    This question and answer fact sheet explains how psychological treatment can help these women harness the healing powers of their own minds.

    What Are The Different Types Of Breast Cancer

    There are several types of breast cancer, including:

    • The most common type begins in the lining of the ducts and is called ductal carcinoma.

    • Another common type, called lobular carcinoma, occurs in the lobules .

    • Paget’s disease is a rare form of breast cancer that begins in the glands in or under the skin. It is often characterized by inflamed, red patches on the skin. The patches can occur in sweat glands, in the groin, or near the anus. Because Paget’s disease often originates from breast duct cancer, the eczema-like cancer usually appears around the nipple.

    • Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare form of invasive breast cancer. Usually there is no lump or tumor rather this cancer makes the skin of the breast look red and feel warm. The breast skin also looks thick and pitted, much like an orange peel.

    • Triple negative breast cancers are those that do not have estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors, and do not have an excess of the HER2 protein on the cancer cell surfaces. These breast cancers tend to occur more often in younger women and in African-American women. They tend to grow and spread faster than most other types of breast cancer.

    When breast cancer metastasizes, or spreads outside the breast, cancer cells are often found in the lymph nodes under the arm. If the cancer has reached these nodes, it may mean that cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.

    Types of breast cancer, in alphabetical order, are:

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    How Is Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosed

    Currently, theres no one test that can diagnose metastatic breast cancer. How the cancer is diagnosed depends on where it has spread in the body, Alberto Montero, MD, director of the breast cancer program at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio, tells Health.

    In most cases, a diagnosis begins with someone with a history of breast cancer reporting a new, unusual symptom to their doctor, Dr. Montero says. This would prompt tests and imaging that would lead to a diagnosis of metastatic cancer. If a former breast cancer patient says they have worsening leg or knee pain, for example, their doctor might order an X-ray and bone scan to check for cancer lesions in those areas.

    We really pay attention to peoples symptoms, says Dr. Lin. If somebody with a known prior history of early breast cancer calls with any suggestive symptoms, then we go on to do scans or tests focused on the areas that are having symptoms. This is not to say that everyone with a history of breast cancer who reports headaches or abdominal pain has metastatic cancer. But doctors know to investigate further if they have a breast cancer patient with unusual symptoms, because they could indicate a cancer recurrence.

    This is different from how earlier-stage breast cancer is diagnosed, says Dr. Lin. In those cases, breast cancer is usually detected through a mammogram, and then confirmed with an ultrasound and then a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

    The Effects Of Breast Cancer On The Body

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    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:

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    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.

    With breast cancer, your nipples may also undergo some noticeable changes.

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    What I Wish People Knew About Metastatic Breast Cancer

    Recurrent breast cancer is breast cancer that returns after initial treatment it may occur months or years after your initial treatment. The highest risk of recurrence is during the first two years after treatment, though the majority of patients wont experience recurrence.

    Theres currently no cure for metastatic breast cancer but with treatment to control it, many patients with the disease now live productive, fulfilling lives for years.

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