What Medical Treatments Are There For Breast Lumps And Pain
- When your breast pain is severe enough to interfere with your lifestyle and when it occurs for more than a few days each month, you may be treated with medications.
- Before treatment is begun, document the frequency and severity of your pain on a daily basis for at least one to two menstrual cycles.
- This pain diary will also help check your response to treatment.
Stage Of Breast Cancer
When your breast cancer is diagnosed, the doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as Stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer .
- Stage 1 the tumour measures less than 2cm and the lymph nodes in the armpit aren’t affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 2 the tumour measures 2-5cm or the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 3 the tumour measures 2-5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues. The lymph nodes in the armpit are affected. However, there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 4 the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body .
This is a simplified guide. Each stage is divided into further categories: A, B and C. If you’re not sure what stage you have, ask your doctor.
Loss Of Bladder And Bowel Control
The dying person might lose control of their bladder and bowel. This happens because the muscles in these areas relax and dont work as they did. This can be distressing to see and you might worry that they may feel embarrassed. The nursing staff will do all they can to protect the bed and keep your relative or friend as clean and comfortable as possible.
If you are caring for the person at home, the district nurses and specialist nurses can arrange for you to have protective sheets or pads for the bed. They might also be able to arrange a laundry service for you, if necessary. As people become very close to death and are not eating or drinking, the amount of urine and stools they produce gets less and less.
Breast Lumps And Pain Self
- Limit your intake of caffeine in coffee and soft drinks, theophyllines in tea, and theobromine in chocolate. Although the role of these methylxanthines is controversial, some women report improvement in pain when they limit these.
- Daily vitamin E can reduce fibrocystic changes. Avoid doses higher than 600 mg per day.
- Wear a well-fitted bra or sports bra for support, especially if you have large breasts. You may want to wear a comfortable bra to bed.
- Apply warm compresses to your breasts for pain relief.
- Over-the-counter pain medication may help.
- Make note, and avoid, any foods that may seem to cause the pain.
- Keep a diary of pain, documenting frequency and severity for at least a 2-month period. This may be enough to convince you and your doctor that the pain is cyclic and not severe enough to warrant medications that may have bothersome side effects.
- Injury: If you suffer an injury to your breast, apply an ice pack for 20 minutes just as you would for any other bruise. Do not let the ice touch your skin directly. You can use a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. You may take a pain reliever such as ibuprofen .
- Mastitis: Breast infections require treatment by a doctor. After you see a doctor, try pain medication, frequent feedings of your infant and warm compresses.
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Signs and symptoms often appear when the tumour grows large enough to be felt as a lump in the breast or when the cancer spreads to surrounding tissues and organs. Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as breast cancer.
The most common symptom of ductal carcinoma is a firm or hard lump that feels very different from the rest of the breast. It may feel like it is attached to the skin or the surrounding breast tissue. The lump doesnt get smaller or come and go with your period. It may be tender, but its usually not painful. .
Lobular carcinoma often does not form a lump. It feels more like the tissue in the breast is getting thicker or harder.
Other symptoms of ductal and lobular breast cancer include:
- a lump in the armpit
- changes in the shape or size of the breast
- changes to the nipple, such as a nipple that suddenly starts to point inward
- discharge that comes out of the nipple without squeezing it or that has blood in it
Late signs and symptoms occur as the cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body, including other organs. Late symptoms of breast cancer include:
- bone pain
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How Can I Protect Myself From Breast Cancer
Follow these three steps for early detection:
- Get a mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends having a baseline mammogram at age 35, and a screening mammogram every year after age 40. Mammograms are an important part of your health history. Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force came out with new recommendations regarding when and how often one should have mammograms. These include starting at age 50 and having them every two years. We do not agree with this, but we are in agreement with the American Cancer Society and have not changed our guidelines, which recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40.
- Examine your breasts each month after age 20. You will become familiar with the contours and feel of your breasts and will be more alert to changes.
- Have your breast examined by a healthcare provider at least once every three years after age 20, and every year after age 40. Clinical breast exams can detect lumps that may not be detected by mammogram.
Ovarian Ablation Or Suppression
In women who haven’t experienced the menopause, oestrogen is produced by the ovaries. Ovarian ablation or suppression stops the ovaries working and producing oestrogen.
Ablation can be carried out using surgery or radiotherapy. It stops the ovaries working permanently and means you’ll experience the menopause early.
Ovarian suppression involves using a medication called goserelin, which is a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonist . Your periods will stop while you’re taking it, although they should start again once your treatment is complete.
If you’re approaching the menopause , your periods may not start again after you stop taking goserelin.
Goserelin is taken as an injection once a month and can cause menopausal side effects, including:
- hot flushes and sweats
- Breast Cancer Now: Hormone therapy
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Treatments For Breast Cancer In Men
The treatment for breast cancer in men depends on how far the cancer has spread.
Possible treatments include:
- surgery to remove the affected breast tissue and nipple and some of the glands in your armpit
- radiotherapy where radiation is used to kill cancer cells
- chemotherapy where cancer medicine is used to kill cancer cells
- other medicines that help stop breast cancer growing including tamoxifen and trastuzumab
Many men have surgery followed by 1 or more of the other treatments. This can help stop the cancer coming back in the future.
Read more about treatments for breast cancer in men.
Who Gets Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women other than skin cancer. Increasing age is the most common risk factor for developing breast cancer, with 66% of breast cancer patients being diagnosed after the age of 55.
In the US, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer, and it’s the leading cause of cancer death among women ages 35 to 54. Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers occur in women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease. The majority of breast cancer cases are “sporadic, meaning there is no definitive gene mutation.
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Difficulty Swallowing Or Not Wanting To Eat Or Drink At All
There will come a time when the dying person won’t want to eat or drink anything. It is important not to try and force them to eat or drink. This will make them uncomfortable.
You can give them small pieces of ice to suck or sips of fluid, if they are still awake. This will keep their mouth moist. You can put lip balm on their lips to help stop them getting dry and sore.
Even if they cant take anything into their mouth, you can moisten their lips and mouth every 1 to 2 hours with lemon and glycerine swabs or water. Your GP or district nurse can get you the swabs.
Breast Cancer Signs And Symptoms
Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel is an important part of breast health. Although having regular screening tests for breast cancer is important, mammograms do not find every breast cancer. This means it’s also important for you to be aware of changes in your breasts and to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or round. They can even be painful. For this reason, it’s important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by an experienced health care professional.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast
- Skin dimpling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking or thickened
- Nipple discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes
Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to a health care professional so the cause can be found.
Remember that knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular mammograms and other screening tests. Screening tests can help find breast cancer early, before any symptoms appear. Finding breast cancer early gives you a better chance of successful 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.
What Does Breast Cancer Look Like
In many cases, women spot signs of breast cancer outside of regular breast cancer screenings. In fact, paying attention to changes in your breasts during regular activities like showering or getting dressed, along with getting your annual mammogram if youre age 40 or over, is one of the best ways to increase your chances of finding breast cancer early, when its easiest to treat.
Any change you notice that is different to you, you should get it checked out, says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Andersons Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center. Its always better to get something checked out and find its nothing than to ignore it.
Any subtle change in your breasts should be taken seriously, but here are some symptoms that might be a sign of breast cancer.
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When To Seek Medical Care
Breast lumps ideally should be checked about one week after your period starts. Fibrocystic changes in the breast are usually irregular and mobile, and you may find more than one lump. Cancerous tumors are usually hard and firm and do not typically move a great deal.
- You have any abnormal discharge from your nipples.
- Breast pain is making it difficult for you to function each day.
- You have prolonged, unexplained breast pain.
- You have any other associated symptoms that you are worried about. You should see a doctor if you experience any changes in your breasts.
- A mass or tender lump in the breast that does not disappear after nursing
- Changes in the skin
- Any of these symptoms with or without fever
What Is The Staging For Breast Cancer
Stage I and II breast cancers
- Early-stage localized breast cancer
- Tumor is less than 2 cm in size and is node negative
- Stage II tumors have spread to the axillary lymph nodes and/or a tumor size larger than 2 cm but smaller than 5 cm
Stage III breast cancers
- Locally advanced breast cancer
- Large breast tumors
- Extensive axillary lymph node involvement , nodal involvement of both axillary and internal mammary nodes at diagnosis, or nodal involvement of the soft tissues above or below the collarbone
- A tumor is also considered to be stage III if it extends to underlying muscles of the chest wall or the overlying skin
- Inflammatory breast cancer is at least stage III even if it is small and does not involve lymph nodes
Stage IV breast cancer
- Metastatic breast cancer
- Tumors have spread to areas outside the breast and lymph nodes to the bones, lungs, liver, or other organs
- The primary tumor in the breast may be any size, and there can be any number of affected lymph nodes
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What Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast become abnormal and grow out of control. Breast lumps arent always the earliest sign of breast cancer, as outlined below. When cancerous lumps do appear, they usually feel firmer than the other tissue, may move around or may be fixed on the chest wall. Lumps are usually painless, but not always.
Look For Other Breast Changes
A woman can have breast cancer without noticing any changes in breast lumps. As one MyBCTeam member shared, I never felt a lump or had any tenderness in my breasts. In fact, some cases of breast cancer are first detected when the nipples change in appearance, secrete fluids, or become tender, or when the breasts skin becomes dimpled or puckered.
The same member went on to note that other symptoms helped point to a diagnosis of breast cancer: What I did have was a flattening of my nipples. No tenderness or pain just that my nipples didnt get erect anymore and were inverted. And a year before, I had a blood clot in my lung. Found out later that these can both be signs of breast cancer.
Let your doctor know if you experience any other symptoms of breast cancer, such as nipple discharge, skin dimpling, or swelling in the surrounding tissues . According to the Stony Brook Cancer Center, any abnormality in the size, texture, shape, or nipple of just one breast rather than both may be more dangerous than changes affecting both breasts symmetrically.
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Other Types Of Breast Cancer
Other less common types of breast cancer include invasive lobular breast cancer, which develops in the cells that line the milk-producing lobules, inflammatory breast cancer and Paget’s disease of the breast.
It’s possible for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually through the lymph nodes or the bloodstream. If this happens, it’s known as “secondary” or “metastatic” breast cancer.
How Are Cysts Diagnosed And Treated
Your healthcare provider may find a cyst during a physical exam. He or she may confirm the diagnosis with a mammogram or ultrasound. You may also have a fine-needle aspiration. This involves guiding a very fine needle into the cyst and drawing fluid from it . This also serves as the treatment for this condition. Once the fluid is aspirated, the cyst collapses and disappears. But, cysts can reappear later, in which case they are simply drained again. Cysts are seldom cancerous .
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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