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What Does It Feel Like To Have Breast Cancer

The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca

Breast Cancer : What Does a Breast Cancer Lump Feel Like?

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.

Can Cancer Form In Other Parts Of The Breast

Cancers can also form in other parts of the breast, but these types of cancer are less common. These can include:

  • Angiosarcomas. This type of cancer begins in the cells that make up the lining of blood or lymph vessels. These cancers can start in breast tissue or breast skin. They are rare.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer. This type of cancer is rare and different from other types of breast cancer. It is caused by obstructive cancer cells in the skins lymph vessels.
  • Paget disease of the breast, also known as Paget disease of the nipple. This cancer affects the skin of the nipple and areola .
  • Phyllodes tumors. These are rare, and most of these masses are not cancer. However, some are cancerous. These tumors begin in the breasts connective tissue, which is called the stroma.

You’ve Got Painful Swelling

Swollen and painful breasts are, well, a pain, and while they’re mainly due to hormonal changes , they can be linked to breast cancer.

It’s all about the size and placement of the tumor, says Dr. Patt, which can be responsible for a change in the size or shape of your breast, or cause of painful swelling. While the vast majority of women who report breast pain do not have cancer, if breast pain and swelling aren’t linked to your menstrual cycle, you’re not breastfeeding, and it appears suddenly or doesn’t go away, give your doctor a call because whatever is happening needs to be addressed, adds Dr. Patt.

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When To Contact A Doctor

A person should contact a doctor if they experience any symptoms that may indicate breast cancer. Most lumps are not cancerous, but a doctor can help rule this out.

Screening can help detect changes before a lump becomes noticeable. At this stage, breast cancer is easier to treat.

Current guidelines from the American College of Physicians recommend that females speak with a doctor about breast cancer screening from the age of 40 years. They also recommend that females at average risk of breast cancer have a mammogram every 2 years from 5074 years of age.

People with a higher risk, such as those with a family history of breast cancer, may need more regular screening.

It is worth noting that different authorities, such as the

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Oncologists have a range of tools that can help alleviate the pain and discomfort of bone metastases as well as treat the cancer itself, including:

Other ways to effectively manage pain and discomfort from bone metastases include using hot and cold compresses; practicing relaxation methods like meditation, physical therapy, or yoga; and doing other gentle forms of exercise. Ask your health care team about programs that can help keep you safely active. Strong muscles protect bones, stresses Huston, and being active makes you feel better both physically and psychologically.

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‘i Noticed What Felt Like A Frozen Pea In My Armpit’

During a routine breast self-exam, I felt a really tiny lump. It didnt hurt, but it was mobile and felt like a frozen pea. It was right inside my armpit, which seemed odd at first, but I remembered that your breast tissue actually extends into your armpit. This didnt feel consistent with the breast changes that came along with my menstrual cycle.

“I actually kept quite calm, even though in my gut, I knew what was going on. So I called my ob-gyn, who offered to take a look during my next annual exam, which was months away. After nothing changed in a week, I called the breast center at my local hospital and demanded to be seen. After imaging and biopsies, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 24.

“From my experience, I hope that other women will learn that you need to monitor changes in your body, but its futile if youre afraid to speak up about them. Women need to have the confidence to speak up.

Brittany Whitman, Cleveland Education Ambassador for;Bright Pink

What Does Normal Breast Tissue Feel Like

Not all lumps in the breasts are malignant . As one MyBCTeam member wrote, Keep in mind that breasts are naturally fibrous and lumpy and often change with your menstrual cycle and hormone changes.

Its true women commonly have irregularities and lumpy areas in their breast tissues. Whats more, the structures in and around the breasts may sometimes be detectable as small bumps. The lymph nodes and milk lobes, for instance, may feel like soft beans or soft peas.

As another member shared, I was told some small lumps are normal. You just have to get to know what your normal is. This is great advice familiarizing yourself with your breast tissue will help you understand when something feels different or if a new lump appears.

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How You Might Feel

You are likely to feel some very strong emotions during the time your relative or friend is dying. You might;feel that you want to try and change what is happening. Often all you can do is give them a lot of support and comfort during this difficult time.

You might need support and help yourself, when someone close to you is dying. It could help to speak to:;

  • the doctor or nurses on the ward
  • a religious leader
  • a counsellor
  • close friends and relatives

Try not to worry that you are going to do something wrong. Just being with your loved one and letting them know you love and care for them is the most important thing.

  • National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence , 7 December 2016

  • On Death and Dying

How To Perform A Self

Signs Of Breast Cancer: What You MUST Look For Besides Lumps

Screening techniques help you and your doctor identify suspicious spots in your breast. A mammogram is a common screening option. A breast self-exam is another.

The self-exam was considered an important part of early breast cancer detection for many decades. Today, however, it may lead to too many unnecessary biopsies and surgical procedures.

Still, your doctor may recommend a self-exam to you. At the very least, the exam can help you familiarize yourself with your breasts appearance, shape, texture, and size. Knowing what your breasts should feel like could help you spot a potential problem more easily.

1) Pick a date. Hormones impact how your breasts feel, so its a good idea to wait a few days after your menstrual cycle ends. If you do not have a period, pick a date on the calendar you can easily remember, such as the first or fifteenth, and schedule your self-exam.

2) Take a look. Remove your top and bra. Stand in front of a mirror. Observe how your breasts look, inspecting them for changes in symmetry, shape, size, or color. Raise both arms, and repeat the visual inspection, noting the changes to your breasts shape and size when your arms are extended.

4) Squeeze your nipple. Gently squeeze on each nipple to see if you have any discharge.

6) Keep a journal. Subtle changes may be hard to detect, but a journal might help you see developments as they occur. Jot down any unusual spots and check them again in a few weeks. If you find any lumps, see your doctor.

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Symptoms Elsewhere In The Body

Sometimes breast cancer cells can spread from the breast to other parts of the body. This is known as secondary breast cancer.;

Some symptoms to be aware of include:

  • unexpected weight loss and a loss of appetite
  • severe or ongoing headaches

Find out more about the symptoms of secondary breast cancer.

Changes In The Size Shape Or Appearance Of Your Breast

Your breasts change for completely normal reasons. Having your period, having children and aging can all influence how your breasts look and feel. But increases in breast size, and changes in breast shape and appearance especially over a short period of time should not be ignored.

When changes like these happen, it may look or feel like all or part of your breast has become swollen.

Also Check: What To Say To Breast Cancer Patient

You Cant Face The Stream In The Shower

Does wearing a bra suddenly irritate your nipples? Are your breasts so painful that you have to face away from the stream of water in the shower? Have your breasts become so sensitive that you dont like your partner to touch them anymore? Breasts or nipples that become more sensitive than normal can be a sign of cancer, Dr. Ross says.

Breast sensitivity is often tied to hormone changes, which is why many women experience breast tenderness as part of PMS and its one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. However, some types of breast cancer can affect your hormones, giving you a similar feeling, she explains.

So if your breasts are suddenly way more sensitive than normal and its not around that time of the month and youre not pregnant, give your doctor a call, she says.

When To Worry About Breast Lumps

Feel For Yourself: Breast Lump Display

So, you feel a lump in your breast. Or, is it a lump? You’re unsure.

The one thing you are sure about is that you’re worried and that you’ve got a lot of questions.

If you’re concerned about something that feels like a lump in your breast, Dr. Jitesh Joshi, medical oncologist at Houston Methodist Cancer Center, has answers to your questions about breast lumps, as well as some advice.

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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.

Surgery For Breast Cancer

Most women with breast cancer have some type of surgery. Common types of breast surgery are lumpectomy, mastectomy, and taking out lymph nodes from the underarm. Women who have a mastectomy may also decide to have the breast shape rebuilt, either at the same time or later on.

Choosing between lumpectomy and mastectomy

Lumpectomy only takes out the lump and a little bit around it. It lets you keep most of your breast. The downside is that youll most likely need radiation treatment after surgery. But some women who have a mastectomy also need radiation afterward.

When choosing between a lumpectomy and mastectomy, be sure to get all the facts. At first you may think that a mastectomy is the best way to get it all out. Some women tend to choose mastectomy because of this. But in most cases, lumpectomy is just as good as mastectomy. Talk to your cancer care team. Learn as much as you can to make the right choice for you.

Reconstructive surgery

If you have a mastectomy, you may want to think about having your breast shape rebuilt. This is called breast reconstruction. Its not done to treat the cancer. Its done to build a breast shape that looks a lot like your natural breast.

If youre going to have a mastectomy and are thinking about having reconstruction, you should talk to a plastic surgeon before the mastectomy is done. Your breast can be rebuilt at the same time the mastectomy is done or later on.

Side effects of surgery

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Pain: Obvious Symptom That Cancer Can Cause

Pain is an indicator of something being wrong with the usual cause being an injury or an illness. In either case, the nervous system notifies the brain of a problem by sending a pain signal through the nerves. When the signal is received, the pain is felt. Every kind of pain is transmitted in the same manner, including pain due to cancer. As not every type of cancer causes similar pain, the type of pain you feel can give an indication about a broad cancer type at least. For instance:

  • Deep, aching pain. Deep and aching pain is usually caused by a tumor that is present close to the bones or that grows into the bones. This kind of pain caused by cancer is mostly bone pain.
  • Burningpain. Burning pain is caused by tumors that press on parts of nerves. Cancer treatments like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can sometimes damage nerves and give rise to a burning feeling.
  • Phantompain. Phantom pain is the sensation of pain in an area where a body part, like a breast or an arm, has been removed. The pain is felt even though there is no body part because of the nerve endings in the region continue to send the pain signals to the brain.

Going into further detail, the region of pain can give a good idea about the type of cancer. For example:

People’s Experiences

Swelling Of All Or Part Of A Breast

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Inflammatory breast cancer often starts with red, inflamed skin that swells as cancer cells clog the vessels that carry lymph fluid.

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Also Check: How To Screen For Breast Cancer

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.

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.

Also Check: How Do Doctors Treat Breast Cancer

Living With Breast Cancer

Being diagnosed with breast cancer can affect daily life in many ways,;depending on what stage;it’s at and what treatment you’re having.

How women cope with their diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. You can be reassured that there are several forms of support available, if you need it. For example:

  • your;family and;friends can be a powerful support system
  • you can communicate with other people in the same situation
  • find out as much as possible about your condition
  • don’t try to do too much or overexert yourself
  • make time for yourself

Read more about breast screening

What Does A Tumor Feel Like Under The Skin

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Lumps,;tumors,;and all sorts of things one can feel in the breast can feel surprisingly similar: firm, as opposed to the normal, more spongy tissue of the breast. They are often irregularly shaped as opposed to a sphere or ball shape. Lumps are also usually mobile within the breast and can be moved around within the breast.

However, its important to note that this can vary from person to person. Ultimately, anytime you feel something thats different from what your normal breast tissue feels like, or if you notice anything that generally feels unusual, you should speak to your medical team about that.

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