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What Effects Does Breast Cancer Have On The Body

Screening For Breast Cancer

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Women aged between 50 and 74 are invited to access free screening mammograms every two years via the BreastScreen Australia Program.

Women aged 40-49 and 75 and over are also eligible to receive free mammograms, however they do not receive an invitation to attend.

It is recommended that women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, aged between 40 and 49 or over 75 discuss options with their GP, or contact BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50.

Implications For Practice And Future Research

The findings of this study indicate that all young women did not get adequate support and counseling from their healthcare personnel. The lack of counseling before and after diagnosis worsened the psychological reactions of these young women. As patients advocates, nurses should be trained to offer counseling services to women suspected of having breast cancer before and after diagnoses as it is done in the case of Human Immunodeficiency Viral infection in Ghana. Future research could look at developing a Navigation programme for breast cancer care in Ghana and assessing its impact. A quantitative approach could be adopted to look at the impact of psychosocial care in breast cancer patients.

How Long Do I Take Tamoxifen

The American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends that:

  • newly diagnosed premenopausal and perimenopausal women take 5 years of tamoxifen as their first hormonal therapy after this first 5 years is done, the hormonal therapy taken for the second 5 years would be determined by the womans menopausal status:
  • postmenopausal women could take another 5 years of tamoxifen or switch to an aromatase inhibitor for 5 years
  • pre- and perimenopausal women would take another 5 years of tamoxifen
  • newly diagnosed postmenopausal women have several options:
  • take tamoxifen for 10 years
  • take an aromatase inhibitor for 5 years right now there isnt enough evidence to recommend taking an aromatase inhibitor for 10 years
  • take tamoxifen for 5 years, then switch to an aromatase inhibitor for another 5 years
  • take tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years, then switch to an aromatase inhibitor for another 5 years
  • postmenopausal women who started taking an aromatase inhibitor but didnt finish 5 years of treatment can switch to tamoxifen to complete 5 years of hormonal therapy
  • postmenopausal women who started taking tamoxifen but didnt finish 5 years of treatment can switch to an aromatase inhibitor and take it for 5 years
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    Dealing With Changes To Your Body

    A diagnosis of breast cancer may change how you think about your body. All women react differently to the physical changes that happen as a result of breast cancer treatment.

    Some women react positively, but others find it more difficult to cope. It’s important to give yourself time to come to terms with any changes to your body.

    Want to know more?

    History Of Breast Cancer Or Breast Lumps

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    A person who has had breast cancer is more likely to develop it again than a person with no history of the disease.

    Having some types of noncancerous breast lumps increases the risk of developing the cancer later on. Examples include atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ.

    People with a history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer should ask their doctors about genetic testing.

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    The Impact Of Breast Cancer Treatment On Your Long

    The late effects associated with breast cancer treatments. Antonio Wolff, M.D., medical oncologist at the Johns Hopkins Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, encourages a relationship with a primary care doctor who is knowledgeable about these effects on breast cancer survivors and their long-term health care.

    These long-term and late side effects may include:

    • Fatigue
    • Pain and numbness
    • Dental issues

    Breast Examination After Treatment For Breast Cancer

    After surgery

    The incision line may be thick, raised, red and possibly tender for several months after surgery. Remember to examine the entire incision line.

    If there is redness in areas away from the scar, contact your physician. It is not unusual to experience brief discomforts and sensations in the breast or nipple area .

    At first, you may not know how to interpret what you feel, but soon you will become familiar with what is now normal for you.

    After breast reconstruction

    Following breast reconstruction, breast examination for the reconstructed breast is done exactly the same way as for the natural breast. If an implant was used for the reconstruction, press firmly inward at the edges of the implant to feel the ribs beneath. If your own tissue was used for the reconstruction, understand that you may feel some numbness and tightness in your breast. In time, some feeling in your breasts may return.

    After radiation therapy

    After radiation therapy, you may notice some changes in the breast tissue. The breast may look red or sunburned and may become irritated or inflamed. Once therapy is stopped, the redness will disappear and the breast will become less inflamed or irritated. At times, the skin can become more inflamed for a few days after treatment and then gradually improve after a few weeks. The pores in the skin over the breast also may become larger than usual.

    What to do

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    Immune And Excretory Systems

    In the later stages of breast cancer, the tumors have spread to other lymph nodes. The underarms are some of the first affected areas. This is because of how close they are to the breasts. You may feel tenderness and swelling under your arms.

    Other lymph nodes can become affected because of the lymphatic system. While this system is usually responsible for transmitting healthy lymph throughout the body, it can also spread cancer tumors.

    Tumors may spread through the lymphatic system to the lungs and liver. If the lungs are affected, you might experience:

    • chronic cough

    What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

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    Symptoms of breast cancer can include:

    • a lump or area of thickened tissue in the breast
    • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
    • a change in the shape or appearance of the nipple, such as crusting, sores, redness or inversion
    • changes to the skin of the breasts, such as dimpling , rash, or redness
    • discomfort or swelling in either armpit

    Symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those that women experience.

    If you have any unusual symptoms, such as the above, you should see your doctor to get them checked.

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    Helping Children With Change

    Change particularly when caused by illness in the family can be unsettling for children. Its important for affected parents to talk with their children about cancer. Answer their questions as honestly as you can with words they understand. Share your feelings with them too, not just the facts. Get tips for talking to kids about cancer at the Cancer Council NSWs website talking to children about cancer.

    Obesity And Breast Cancer Outcomes

    Several published meta-analyses indicate that obesity is a prognostic factor for poorer outcomes after a diagnosis of breast cancer. In the largest of these, Chan et al. reported a meta-analysis of eighty-two clinical studies including 213 075 breast cancer survivors. A pre-diagnosis BMI 30 kg/m2 was associated with a total mortality of relative risk 1·41 compared with a reference group of healthy weight patients the relative risk for BMI 2529·9 was also significantly raised at 1·07 . Each additional 5 kg/m2 BMI before diagnosis was associated with a 17 % increase in total mortality and a 18 % increase in breast cancer mortality . The long-term effects of obesity at diagnosis were highlighted by a study of just under 19 000 Danish women treated for early-stage breast cancer between 1977 and 2006, in which Ewertz et al. found that the risk of distant metastases separated after approximately 3 years, showing a trend of increasing risk with increasing BMI. At 10 years, the incidences were 20·1 % for patients with BMI < 25 kg/m2, 22·4 % for patients with BMI 2529 kg/m2 and 24·3 % for patients with BMI 30 kg/m2. At 30 years, the cumulative risks of dying of breast cancer were 46·4 % for patients with BMI < 25 kg/m2, 53·4 % for patients with BMI 2529 kg/m2 and 57·2 % for patients with BMI 30 kg/m2.

    Table 2. World Cancer Research Fund continuous update project on diet, nutrition, physical activity and breast cancer survivors, 2014 summary of panel judgements*

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    If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast

    If you have radiation to the breast, it can affect your heart or lungs as well causing other side effects.

    Short-term side effects

    Radiation to the breast can cause:

    • Skin irritation, dryness, and color changes
    • Breast soreness
    • Breast swelling from fluid build-up

    To avoid irritating the skin around the breast, women should try to go without wearing a bra whenever they can. If this isnt possible, wear a soft cotton bra without underwires.

    If your shoulders feel stiff, ask your cancer care team about exercises to keep your shoulder moving freely.

    Breast soreness, color changes, and fluid build-up will most likely go away a month or 2 after you finish radiation therapy. If fluid build-up continues to be a problem, ask your cancer care team what steps you can take. See Lymphedema for more information.

    Long-term changes to the breast

    Radiation therapy may cause long-term changes in the breast. Your skin may be slightly darker, and pores may be larger and more noticeable. The skin may be more or less sensitive and feel thicker and firmer than it was before treatment. Sometimes the size of your breast changes it may become larger because of fluid build-up or smaller because of scar tissue. These side effects may last long after treatment.

    After about a year, you shouldnt have any new changes. If you do see changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, tell your cancer care team about them right away.

    Less common side effects in nearby areas

    Why Is It Important To Seek Psychological Help

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    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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    Coping With Late Effects

    There are many things that can be done to manage or treat late effects. It is important that you do not feel you have to cope with them without getting help.

    Late effects may be minor and not affect your daily life much. Or, they may be more difficult to live with and affect your daily life more. There are usually a lot of things that can help you cope with them to live life as well as you can. Some late effects improve over time and may eventually go away on their own.

    If side effects do not go away after treatment, or if you develop late effects, always let your cancer doctor or specialist nurse know. You can contact your specialist nurse even if you no longer have follow-up appointments with a doctor. You can also contact your GP.

    The breast care team can assess your symptoms. They will explain whether they could be caused by treatment and how to manage them.

    Some late effects may be similar to the symptoms you had when you were first diagnosed. This can be scary, and you may worry the cancer has come back.

    Sometimes symptoms are caused by other conditions not related to the cancer or its treatment. Your doctor may arrange tests to find out more about the cause of your symptoms.If you are unable to work because of late effects, you may be entitled to some benefits.

    What Do I Need To Know About Side Effects

    • Every person doesnt get every side effect, and some people get few, if any.
    • The severity of side effects varies greatly from person to person. Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about which side effects are most common with your chemo, how long they might last, how bad they might be, and when you should call the doctors office about them.
    • Your doctor may give you medicines to help prevent certain side effects before they happen.
    • Some chemo drugs cause long-term side effects, like heart or nerve damage or fertility problems. Still, many people have no long-term problems from chemo. Ask your doctor if the chemo drugs youre getting have long-term effects.

    While side effects can be unpleasant, they must be weighed against the need to kill the cancer cells.

    Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about which side effects are most common with your chemo, how long they might last, how bad they might be, and when you should call the doctors office about them.

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    What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

    Like many conditions, risk factors for breast cancer fall into the categories of things you can control and things that you cannot control. Risk factors affect your chances of getting a disease, but having a risk factor does not mean that you are guaranteed to get a certain disease.

    Controllable risk factors for breast cancer

    • Alcohol consumption. The risk of breast cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. For instance, women who consume two or three alcoholic beverages daily have an approximately 20% higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who do not drink at all.
    • Body weight. Being obese is a risk factor for breast cancer. It is important to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
    • Breast implants. Having silicone breast implants and resulting scar tissue make it harder to distinguish problems on regular mammograms. It is best to have a few more images to improve the examination. There is also a rare cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma that is associated with the implants.
    • Choosing not to breastfeed. Not breastfeeding can raise the risk.
    • Using hormone-based prescriptions. This includes using hormone replacement therapy during menopause for more than five years and taking certain types of birth control pills.

    Non-controllable risk factors for breast cancer

    Giving Birth During Breast Cancer

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    • If you have breast cancer, when you have your baby will rely upon the treatment you need and your normal due date. Numerous ladies diagnosed during pregnancy proceed to finish the full term of their pregnancy and dont encounter any issues during labor in light of their treatment for breast cancer.
    • If your child is probably going to be brought into the world early youll be offered a course of steroid injections to help with your infants development and lessen the opportunity of the infant creating breathing issues.

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    Why Does Chemo Cause Side Effects

    Cancer cells tend to grow fast, and chemo drugs kill fast-growing cells. But because these drugs travel throughout the body, they can affect normal, healthy cells that are fast-growing, too. Damage to healthy cells causes side effects. Side effects are not always as bad as you might expect, but it’s normal to worry about this part of cancer treatment.

    The normal cells most likely to be damaged by chemo are:

    • Blood-forming cells in the bone marrow
    • Hair follicles
    • Cells in the mouth, digestive tract, and reproductive system

    Some chemo drugs can damage cells in the heart, kidneys, bladder, lungs, and nervous system. Sometimes, you can take medicines with the chemo to help protect your bodys normal cells. There are also treatments to help relieve side effects.

    Doctors try to give chemo at levels high enough to treat cancer, while keeping side effects at a minimum. They also try to avoid using multiple drugs that have similar side effects.

    When To Call Your Cancer Care Team About Chemo Side Effects

    Because your cancer care team will give you lots of information about side effects, you might be more aware of physical changes. Do not take any physical symptoms you have lightly. Some side effects are short-lived and minor, but others may be a sign of serious problems. Make sure you know how to reach someone on your team any time, including after hours, weekends, and holidays.

    Contact your cancer care team right away if you have any of the following symptoms during chemo treatment:

    • A fever higher than what your cancer care team has instructed
    • Bleeding or unexplained bruising

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