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What Happens If You Get Breast Cancer

The Stages Of Breast Cancer

What happens after a breast cancer diagnosis?

NOTE: Although a lot of this information is still valid, The American Joint Committee on Cancer has recently updated their classifications for staging breast tumors.

We will be updating all our articles on staging in the near future. In the meantime, please click HERE for a brief summary of the major changes in January 2018.

If a breast biopsy confirms that breast cancer is indeed the diagnosis, the staging process begins.

The stages of breast cancer are really the extent of breast cancer. So, in order to choose and begin the best treatment, it is necessary to stage breast cancer. The staging process shows the progression of breast cancer.

Breast cancer progresses in relatively predictable and consistent ways, so it is possible to categorize breast cancer in terms of stages.

There are basically five stages of breast cancer, with some subcategories .

How Does The Doctor Know I Have Breast Cancer

A change seen on your mammogram may be the first sign of breast cancer. Or you may have found a lump or other change in your breast.

The doctor will ask you questions about your health and will do a physical exam. A breast exam is done to look for changes in the nipples or the skin of your breasts. The doctor will also check the lymph nodes under your arm and above your collarbone. Swollen or hard lymph nodes might mean breast cancer has spread there.

If signs are pointing to breast cancer, more tests will be done. Here are some of the tests you may need:

Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms are mostly used to find breast cancer early. But another mammogram might be done to look more closely at the breast problem you might have.

MRI scan: MRIs use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make detailed pictures. MRIs can be used to learn more about the size of the cancer and look for other tumors in the breast.

Breast ultrasound: For this test, a small wand is moved around on your skin. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off tissues. The echoes are made into a picture that you can see on a computer screen. Ultrasound can help the doctor see if a lump is a fluid-filled cyst , or if it’s a tumor that could be cancer.

Nipple discharge exam: If you have fluid coming from your nipple, some of it may be sent to a lab. There, it will be checked to see if there are cancer cells in it.

How To Adjust To The Changes

You may choose to consult with a plastic surgeon before undergoing surgery to discover options available to you. Reconstruction can be done by using either your own breast tissue or silicone or water-filled implants. These procedures are typically performed in tandem with your surgery or afterward.

Prosthetics are an alternative to reconstruction. If you dont want breast reconstruction but still want a breast shape, you may choose to use a prosthesis. A prosthesis is also called a breast form.

A prosthesis can be slipped into your bra or bathing suit to fill the space where your breast was. These breast forms come in many shapes, sizes, and materials to suit your needs.

Beyond reconstruction, you can do some things to help yourself adjust to your new body and manage some of the changes:

Adding various treatments and their associated physical changes to the mix may certainly feel like too much to handle at times. If you have concerns about body image or depression, reach out to your friends, family, and medical care team.

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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

How Do They Check For Breast Cancer With Implants

What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer Recurrence

Mammography for women with breast implants is described by the American Cancer Society as a challenge, Breast implants are a challenge for mammogram screening.. X-rays used to image the breasts cannot show the breast tissue that lies over or beneath silicone or saline implants because they cannot penetrate them well enough.

Also Check: Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Symptoms

Treatment Of Breast Cancer In Teens

Doctors treat secretory adenocarcinoma by surgically cutting out the cancer while sparing as much breast tissue as possible.

Doctors consider chemotherapy and radiation on a case-by-case basis. The risks these treatments pose to young, developing bodies may outweigh the benefits.

Depending on the type of therapy and how long it lasts, it can affect your fertility and increase your chances of other cancers.

You can still breastfeed after breast or nipple surgery. However, some people may produce less milk than others.

85 percent . This means that theyre 85 percent as likely to live another 5 years as 15- to 19-year-old U.S. girls without breast cancer.

The 5-year relative survival rate for women 20 years old and older who were diagnosed between 2011 to 2017 is 90.3 percent .

Because breast cancer is so rare in teens, doctors and teens may adopt a watch-and-wait approach, and delay treatment. That may account for the lower survival rate for teens with breast cancer compared with adult women with the condition.

Breast cancer is extremely rare in teens, but you should still check abnormalities. Adopting certain habits now can also help prevent breast cancer later. These include:

How Do Tamoxifen Raloxifene Anastrozole And Exemestane Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer

If you are at increased risk for developing breast cancer, four medications tamoxifen , raloxifene , anastrozole , and exemestane may help reduce your risk of developing this disease. These medications act only to reduce the risk of a specific type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. This type of breast cancer accounts for about two-thirds of all breast cancers.

Tamoxifen and raloxifene are in a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators . These drugs work by blocking the effects of estrogen in breast tissue by attaching to estrogen receptors in breast cells. Because SERMs bind to receptors, estrogen is blocked from binding. Estrogen is the fuel that makes most breast cancer cells grow. Blocking estrogen prevents estrogen from triggering the development of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.

Anastrozole and exemestane are in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors . These drugs work by blocking the production of estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors do this by blocking the activity of an enzyme called aromatase, which is needed to make estrogen.

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Second Opinions For Breast Cancer

Detecting breast cancer can be a complicated process, so health professionals always encourage patients to undergo different tests and get a second opinion prior to beginning any treatment to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Breast tumors and other abnormalities aren’t always cancerous, so breast imaging tests, like mammograms and breast MRI’s, examine deep breast tissue and are necessary to properly diagnose cancer. A second opinion can also help patients determine the best path for treatment, as different specialists can provide different insights for treatment options. Patients should keep records of all visits and diagnoses to maintain evidence for a malpractice lawsuit if a misdiagnosis occurs.

What Is Invasive Breast Cancer

Can Breast Cancer Recurrence Happen Elsewhere in the Body?

Most breast cancers are diagnosed when a tumour has grown from within a duct or lobule into the surrounding breast tissue. These are called invasive breast cancers:

  • Invasive ductal breast cancers begin in one of the ducts of the breast . They account for as many of 8 in 10 of breast cancer cases.
  • Invasive lobular breast cancers begins in one of the lobes of the breast. They account for about 1 in 10 of invasive breast cancers.

Invasive breast cancers are also divided into those where cancer cells have invaded into local blood or lymphatic vessels and those that have not. Invasive breast cancer is able to spread outside the breast.

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Other Symptoms And Signs Of Breast Cancer

Other signs which may be noticed in the affected breast include:

  • Changes in the size or shape of a breast.
  • Dimpling or thickening of some of the skin on a part of a breast.
  • The nipple turning in .
  • Rarely, a discharge occurring from a nipple .
  • A rare type of breast cancer, causing a rash around the nipple, which can look similar to a small patch of eczema.
  • Rarely, pain in a breast. Note: pain is not a usual early symptom. Many women develop painful breasts and this is not usually caused by cancer.

The first place that breast cancer usually spreads to is the lymph glands in the armpit . If this occurs, you may develop a swelling or lump in an armpit. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body then various other symptoms can develop.

Who Uses Cam Instead Of Medicine

So how would a decision to accept no treatment, or to only use alternative medicine, compare to conventional cancer care ? And what about delaying conventional cancer care to allow a trial of alternative medicine does it have a measurable effect? Answering this question isnt straightforward. In cancer research, new drugs are typically added to, or follow, established therapies, so all patients receive standard treatment options as part of their care. So we cant ethically randomize patients to nothing, when established treatments exist. But we can answer this question in a different way: Patients that voluntarily opt out of cancer treatment can be followed, and compared to patients that do take cancer treatment. While it isnt a prospective randomization, which would be the gold standard, its the best we can get. But even this approach is difficult. Most patients who decide to opt-out of cancer treatment, also opt-out of any follow-up evaluation. So tracking down patients, and their outcomes, is essential.

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Keeping Personal Health Records

You and your doctor should work together to develop a personalized follow-up care plan. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your future physical or emotional health. ASCO offers forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan when treatment is completed. At the conclusion of active treatment, ask your doctor to provide you with a treatment summary and a survivorship care plan.

This is also a good time to talk with your doctor about who will lead your follow-up care. Some survivors continue to see their oncologist, while others transition back to the care of their family doctor, another health care professional, or a specialized survivorship clinic. This decision depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, side effects, health insurance rules, and your personal preferences.If a doctor who was not directly involved in your cancer care will lead your follow-up care, be sure to share your cancer treatment summary and survivorship care plan forms with them and with all future health care providers. Details about your cancer treatment are very valuable to the health care professionals who will care for you throughout your lifetime.

The next section in this guide is Survivorship. It describes how to cope with challenges in everyday life after a cancer diagnosis. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.

Symptoms When Breast Cancer Has Spread To The Bones

Breast Cancer Awareness Quiz, October 2018

The main symptoms of breast cancer that has spread to bone are:

  • Pain particularly in the back, arms or legs, often described as gnawing which occurs when resting or sleeping, and may get worse when lying down especially at night
  • Fractures

Find out more about the symptoms of secondary breast cancer.

Other possible effects include:

Also Check: What Is The Prognosis For Stage 4 Breast Cancer

What Is Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. It starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control.

Breast cancer cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. Breast cancer is most common in women, but men can get breast cancer, too.

Breast cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body and grow there, too. When cancer cells do this, its called metastasis.

Cancer is always named based on the place where it starts. So even if breast cancer spreads to the bones , its still called breast cancer. Its not called bone cancer unless it starts from cells in the bone.

The breast

Breast Cancer Screening & Early Detection

After the age of 45, women should go for annual mammograms, breast exams, and cancer screenings to be proactive in detecting an abnormality. Catching cancer in its early stages is crucial for increasing a patient’s survival rate. If women are at a high risk due to family history or risk factors such as being overweight or having a previous exposure to chest radiation, they may want to consider scheduling mammograms earlier. If something irregular is detected, doctors may also order a breast ultrasound or a needle biopsy to further inspect the area. Patients should understand the proper protocols for detection, and doctors should communicate recommendations and offer insights about potential concerns.

If a doctor fails to order age-based cancer screenings, ignores a patient’s symptoms and concerns that may align with a breast cancer diagnosis, or fails to consider previous health conditions and red flags, a patient may not be receiving the standard of care that is to be expected. If a breast cancer diagnosis is delayed, leading to a more invasive breast cancer in its later stages, patients may be eligible to file a breast cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit and be awarded compensation for costly cancer treatments, pain, and suffering.

Also Check: What Is Stage 3a Breast Cancer

Advanced Or Metastatic Breast Cancer: Stage Iv

Stage IV breast cancers indicate the presence of distant metastasis to other parts of the body, such as the liver or bones.

About 5% of women, in 2017 have a stage IV breast cancer at the time of initial diagnosis.

The long term survival rate for stage IV breast cancer tends to be low, but is improving all the time. In 2012 the National Cancer Institute statistics show the 5-year survival rate for Stage IV breast cancer to be around 22%.

However, a more recent study shows that 37% of women survive for 3 years after a Stage IV breast cancer diagnosis.

Also, it is important to remember that each case is individual and there is no telling exact survival rates for any of the stages of breast cancer.

Tests At The Breast Cancer Clinic

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If you have suspected breast cancer you’ll be referred to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This referral will be because of your symptoms or because your mammogram has shown an abnormality,

Mammogram and breast ultrasound

If you have symptoms and have been referred to a specialist breast unit by your GP, you’ll probably be invited to have a mammogram if you are over 35 years old. This is an X-ray of your breasts. You may also need an ultrasound scan.

If your cancer was detected through the BreastCheck screening programme, you may need another mammogram or ultrasound scan.

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your breasts. It helps to determine the nature of a lump or of the abnormality. It may be needed to find out if a lump in your breast is solid or contains liquid.

Your breasts are made up of thousands of tiny glands that produce milk. This glandular tissue contains a higher concentration of breast cells than other breast tissue, making it denser.

Dense breast tissue can make a mammogram difficult to read. Lumps or areas of abnormal tissue are harder to spot.

Younger women tend to have denser breasts. This is why mammography is not routinely performed in women under 35 years. As you get older, the amount of glandular tissue in your breasts decreases and is replaced by fat. This means your breasts become less dense.

Biopsy

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Can Blood Work Detect Breast Cancer

Yes. Cancerous tumors produce specific proteins that can be found in blood marker tests. Certain markers, such as CA 15.3, TRU-QUANT, and CA 27.29, typically indicate breast cancer may be present or if there is a cancer recurrence. Other markers, like CEA , can indicate that breast cancer is present and can also determine if it has traveled to other areas of the body. Doctors will often order blood tests before treatment and throughout the process to help diagnose the cancer, as well as to see how the cancer is responding to treatment methods. A blood test is a supplement to other breast cancer detection strategies, but it is not a foolproof method and should not be used in place of other cancer screenings.

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