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What Does Breast Cancer Look Like Inside The Body

Invasive Breast Cancer And Staging

29. What it looks like 3 weeks after a bilateral mastectomy

Whether or not invasive cancer cells are present can influence how breast cancer is staged after a diagnosis.

Breast cancer that remains isolated to the area in which it started and has not spread into healthy breast tissue is called cancer in situ. You may also see this referred to as non-invasive breast cancer or Stage 0 breast cancer.

When invasive cancer is detected, it can be staged as stage 1 through 4. Many of these stages also have subcategories.

Several factors are taken into consideration with the TNM staging system thats used for invasive breast cancer. This includes:

Other factors that can impact staging are:

There are different types of invasive breast cancer. Lets examine some of the most common ones in more detail.

Changes In The Size And Shape Of The Breast

Its not uncommon for breasts to swell, and you may notice a change in size around the time of your menstrual cycle.

Swelling can also cause breast tenderness, and it may be slightly uncomfortable to wear a bra or lie down on your stomach. This is perfectly normal and rarely indicative of breast cancer.

But while your breasts may undergo certain changes at different times of the month, you shouldnt overlook some changes. If you notice your breasts swelling at times other than your menstrual cycle, or if only one breast is swollen, talk to your doctor.

In cases of normal swelling, both breasts remain symmetrical. That means one wont suddenly be larger or more swollen than the other.

The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

Eight signs of cancer you might not know about

For many, the first sign of breast cancer is a lump in the breast. However, breast cancer symptoms can vary widely from lumps to some less obvious signs such as skin changes. Discovering the symptoms of breast cancer does not necessarily mean it is cancer; however, it is absolutely vital to discuss them with your doctor as soon as possible.

Breast cancer must be recognised and treated early. For people with early breast cancer this may offer the best chance of cure. For breast cancer that has already spread to other organs, known as advanced breast cancer, catching the disease early allows for early discussion and planning for a tailored treatment approach, which may ultimately improve patient outcomes. When it comes to diagnosing breast cancer, time is vital. Know the symptoms of breast cancer and act early.

Recommended Reading: Why Is Left Breast Cancer More Common

How It Might Affect You

For some people, an ulcerating tumour is the most upsetting aspect of their cancer.

How the wound affects you will depend on where it is on your body. It can affect how you feel about yourself if its very visible, such as on your face.

A wound near a joint or armpit can affect how you move. It might also be painful or itchy.

A wound on or near the genitals or breasts might make you feel embarrassed. It can particularly be hard when a doctor or nurse is examining or treating you.

Ulcerating wounds can also smell unpleasant or leak. This can be very distressing.

A few people find having an ulcerating tumour so distressing that they deny it’s there. They feel the best way to deal with it is to ignore it. Sometimes people leave their wound so long that by the time they do see a doctor, it is more difficult to control.

But its possible to manage the symptoms of ulcerating wounds so that they are easier to live with.

See your doctor as soon as you notice any signs of an ulcerating tumour.

Money And Financial Support

Cyst of breast cancer

If you have to reduce or stop work because of your cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.

If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support, for example:

  • if you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
  • if you don’t have a job and can’t work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
  • if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carers Allowance
  • you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income

Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.

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Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer

The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women.

The most common signs are:

  • A change in the look or feel of the breast OR
  • A change in the look or feel of the nipple OR
  • Nipple discharge

If you have any of the warning signs described below, see a health care provider .

If you dont have a provider, one of the best ways to find a good one is to get a referral from a trusted family member or friend.

If thats not an option, call your health department, a clinic or a nearby hospital. If you have insurance, your insurance company may also have a list of providers in your area.

Learn more;about finding a health care provider.;

In most cases, these changes are not cancer.

One example is breast pain. Pain is more common with benign breast conditions than with breast cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to get it checked.

If the change turns out to be breast cancer, its best to find it at an early stage, when the chances of survival are highest.

Alternative To Reconstructive Surgery: Prosthesis

A prosthesis, or breast form, is an alternative to reconstructive surgery. A prosthesis offers the appearance of breasts without surgery. This is a device that is worn inside a bra or bathing suit to permit a balanced appearance when clothed. Breast prostheses come in many shapes, sizes, and materials . Breast prosthetic devices are often covered by insurance plans.

Also Check: How Will I Know If I Have Breast Cancer

Common Types Of Breast Cancer

Lobular carcinoma in situ

Lobular carcinoma in situ refers to an area of abnormal cells confined to the milk-producing glands of the breast in females.

Because these cells do not spread to surrounding tissues, experts do not consider lobular carcinoma in situ to be a true cancer. However, it can increase the chances of developing other types of breast cancer.

This condition rarely causes symptoms. In some cases, tiny white specs of calcium called microcalcifications show up on a routine mammogram.

Invasive lobular carcinoma

This develops in the breasts lobules glands that can produce milk and invades nearby breast tissue.

In the early stages, invasive lobular carcinoma may not cause symptoms. Or, a person may experience:

  • thickening or hardening of breast tissue, rather than a distinct lump
  • an area of fullness or swelling in the breast
  • a change in the texture of the breasts skin
  • the nipple turning inward

Ductal carcinoma in situ

Ductal carcinoma in situ refers to an area of abnormal cells that are confined to one of the breasts milk ducts.

When a person receives this diagnosis, it means that the cells have not invaded surrounding breast tissue. However, having ductal carcinoma in situ can increase the risk of developing an invasive breast cancer later on.

This condition generally does not cause symptoms. Rarely, a person may notice a lump in the breast or some discharge from the nipple.

Invasive ductal carcinoma

People with this type of cancer may also experience:

How You Feel About Yourself And Others

What Does A Cancer Cell Look Like?

When you have an ulcerating tumour it might affect how you feel about yourself. Also, how you feel about being with other people.

You might feel that you have lost control over your body. This can, in turn, make you feel vulnerable.

Your outward appearance can play a big part in how you feel about social situations. You might be worried and embarrassed about other people noticing your wound. This could stop you wanting to go out or see people and can affect your quality of life.

Applying surgical dressings to your wound might help you to cope better. They can make wearing clothes more comfortable. By covering your wound it might also reduce any smell.

Read Also: What Blood Test Can Detect Breast Cancer

What Are The Signs Of Breast Cancer

A woman who has breast cancer may have no problems, or she may find a painless lump in her breast. If women examine their breasts monthly, they can help find lumps or other changes that a doctor should examine.

Most breast lumps are not cancer, but all lumps should be checked out by a doctor to be sure. Breast lumps that are not cancer may be scar tissue or cysts or they can be due to normal breast changes associated with hormone changes or aging.

Girls who are beginning puberty might notice a lump underneath the nipple when their breasts start developing. Usually, this is a normal. You can ask a parent or your doctor about it to be sure.


Menutap On Me To See The 12 Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Explained

  • expand_moreHard LumpThe most common sign of breast cancer is a lump, deep in the breast. It often feels hard, like a lemon seed, and usually immovable. It can be any shape or size.A lump is not always easy to feel. If you have access to breast cancer screening, use ita mammogram can detect a lump long before it can be felt.Most lumps turn out to be harmless, such as a fluid filled cyst or a fibroadenoma. But if you notice a hard lump that doesnt come and go with your menstrual cycle, dont ignore it. The sooner breast cancer is found, the more easily it can be treated.
  • expand_moreThick AreaYou may notice that a part of your breast feels different from the rest, being less “squishy” and more “dense.” This can be a normal part of menstruation or breastfeeding. However, a thickening in your breast that doesnt go away or gets worse could also be a sign of breast cancer.The thickening can be in the skin or deeper in the breast. This thickening is caused when cancer cells are blocking circulation in the breast or a tumor is growing near the surface of the skin. This is different from a hard lump, which is formed when cancer cells grow very close together.Note: This is not to be confused with “breast density” which doesn’t refer to how a breast feels. Breast density can only be determined through a mammography report.
  • Also Check: Can You Have Breast Cancer At 21

    What Is Electrochemotherapy

    Electrochemotherapy combines a low dose of a chemotherapy drug with electrical impulses. Its given directly to the area being treated to relieve symptoms of skin metastases.

    Studies have shown that electrochemotherapy can:

    • help stop bleeding, broken skin and pain
    • reduce the size of skin metastases

    Using electrical impulses allows the chemotherapy to work in the treated areas only, with little or no effect in other areas. Electrochemotherapy wont treat any other areas of secondary breast cancer inside the body.

    What Will The Doctor Do

    Breast Cancer Awareness Presentation

    Sometimes a doctor will discover a lump in a woman’s breast during a routine examination or a patient might come to the doctor with questions about a lump she found.

    In other cases, a mammogram may find a lump in the breast that can’t be felt. A mammogram is a special kind of X-ray of the breast that helps doctors see what’s going on inside. Sometimes, other kinds of pictures, like an MRI, also can be taken.

    When a lump is found, the doctor will want to test it. The best way to do this is usually with a biopsy. In a biopsy, a small amount of breast tissue is removed with a needle or during a small operation. Then, the tissue is examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

    The biopsy may be benign , which means the lump is not cancer. If the biopsy shows cancer cells, the lump is malignant . If a breast lump does contains cancer cells, the woman, along with her doctor and family, will decide what to do next.

    Also Check: What Does It Feel Like To Have Breast Cancer

    How Breast Cancer Spreads

    Breast;cancer can spread when the cancer cells get into the blood or lymph system and are carried to other parts of the body.;

    The lymph;system is a network of lymph vessels found throughout the body that connects lymph nodes . The clear fluid inside the lymph vessels, called lymph, contains;tissue by-products and waste material, as well as immune system cells. The lymph vessels carry lymph fluid away from the breast. In the case of breast cancer, cancer cells can enter those lymph vessels and start to grow in lymph nodes. Most of the lymph vessels of the breast drain into:

    • Lymph nodes under the arm
    • Lymph nodes around the collar bone
    • Lymph nodes inside the chest near the breast bone

    If cancer cells have spread to your lymph nodes, there is a higher chance that the cells could have traveled through the lymph system and spread to other parts of your body. The more lymph nodes with breast cancer cells, the more likely it is that the cancer may be found in other organs. Because of this, finding cancer in one or more lymph nodes often affects your treatment plan. Usually, you will need surgery to remove one or more lymph nodes to know whether the cancer has spread.

    Still, not all women with cancer cells in their lymph nodes develop metastases, and some women with no cancer cells in their lymph nodes develop metastases later.

    How Is Luminal B Breast Cancer Diagnosed

    Imaging tests like mammograms can tell you if breast cancer is likely. A biopsy of the breast tissue is the only way to confirm this. In a laboratory, the tissue will be tested for certain receptors that can fuel the growth of breast cancer. These tests can tell you about your:

    • HR status. Cancer cells that have estrogen or progesterone receptors are HR-positive.
    • HER2 status. HER2 testing with a result of 0 or 1+ means its HER2-negative. A result of 3+ means its HER2-positive. A 2+ result is called equivocal and the HER2 status is unclear.
    • Ki-67 levels. These proteins help measure the speed of growth and division in cancer cells. A high value means the cancer is more aggressive.

    A lot goes into breast cancer treatment decisions. Aside from your cancers general molecular subtype, other factors your doctor will consider are:

    • age and overall health
    • whether youve had treatment for cancer before
    • how well you respond to treatments

    Luminal B breast cancer is a bit more aggressive than luminal A breast cancer. It may grow and spread faster.

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    Can Exercise Help Reduce My Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer

    Exercise is a big part of a healthy lifestyle. It can also be a useful way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer in your postmenopausal years. Women often gain weight and body fat during menopause. People with higher amounts of body fat can be at a higher risk of breast cancer. However, by reducing your body fat through exercise, you may be able to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

    The general recommendation for regular exercise is about 150 minutes each week. This would mean that you work out for about 30 minutes, five days each week. However, doubling the amount of weekly exercise to 300 minutes can greatly benefit postmenopausal women. The longer duration of exercise allows for you to burn more fat and improve your heart and lung function.

    The type of exercise you do can vary the main goal is get your heart rate up as you exercise. Its recommended that your heart rate is raised about 65 to 75% of your maximum heart rate during exercise. You can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your current age from 220. If you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is 155.

    Aerobic exercise is a great way to improve your heart and lung function, as well as burn fat. Some aerobic exercises you can try include:

    • Walking.
    • Dancing.
    • Hiking.

    Remember, there are many benefits to working more exercise into your weekly routine. Some benefits of aerobic exercise can include:

    Stage 3 Breast Cancer

    Diagnosing Breast Cancer with Ultrasound
    • Stage 3A:
    • The cancer has spread to 49 axillary lymph nodes or has enlarged the internal mammary lymph nodes, and the primary tumor can be any size.
    • Tumors are greater than 5 cm, and the cancer has spread to 13 axillary lymph nodes or any breastbone nodes.
  • Stage 3B: A tumor has invaded the chest wall or skin and may or may not have invaded up to nine lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3C: Cancer is found in 10 or more axillary lymph nodes, lymph nodes near the collarbone, or internal mammary nodes.
  • Read Also: What Are Signs Of Breast Cancer In Males

    Common Types Of Breast Rashes

    So what could that redness be? Im not a doctor, so Im sure there are plenty of possible causes Ive never heard of, but between me and my friends, Ive become something of a connoisseur of rashes.

    Fungal infection: A few months after my diagnosis with IBC, a friend called me asking about my rash. She had just developed a red rash, and my description of my symptoms sounded all too familiar to her. Her rash sounded different than mine, but I urged her to see a doctor, just in case.

    It turned out she had a fungal infection, and the right kind of cream cleared it right up. The underside of the breast is a warm, dark, damp place where these fungi like to grow. Think athletes foot, jock itch, vaginal yeast infections similar organisms, different place on the body.

    Heat rash: Based on my friends experience, I thought a rash on the underside of my breast a few years ago must be a fungal infection, but the antifungal cream I used didnt help at all. When I went to the doctor, I found out it wasnt fungal. Nope, the doc said I had heat rash and needed diaper rash cream! Lesson learned: Dont try to self-diagnose a rash that lasts longer than a few days. Check with the doctor.

    Eczema: That scaly rash on your nipple may be eczema. You can get eczema almost anywhere on your body where there is skin. A scaly rash also may signal Pagets disease of the breast, a type of cancer, but this is much more rare.


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