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What Happens When You Get Breast Cancer

Body Image And Sexual Problems

Can Breast Cancer Recurrence Happen Elsewhere in the Body?

Your feelings about your body may change after treatment for breast cancer. may involve talking openly about your concerns with your partner and discussing your feelings with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to refer you to groups that can offer support and information.

Sexual problems can be caused by the physical or emotional effects of cancer or its treatment. Some women may feel less sexual pleasure or lose their desire to be intimate. For more information, see the topic .

Breast Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Most breast cancer symptoms are discovered by women during regular dailyactivities like bathing. Knowing how your breasts look and feel, andbeing alert for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, like a lump,can help you detect the disease early, when it’s easiest to treat.

Most breast changes are due to hormonal cycles or conditions that are less worrying than breast cancer. However, if you experience any of the following breast cancer symptoms, even if they seem mild, see your doctor.

  • A lump in the breast or armpit is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Patients often describe this as a ball or a nodule. Lumps may feel soft and rubbery or hard. Unless you have small breasts or the lump is very large, you probably wont be able to see it.
  • Skin redness
  • Nipple changes, including the nipple turning inward, pulling to one side or changing direction
  • Ulcer on the breast or nipple
  • Thickening of the skin, resulting in an orange-peel texture

Though rare, men can also get breast cancer. The most common symptoms of male breast cancer are a lump, discharge or dimpling.

Types Of Breast Cancer

There are several different types of breast cancer, which develop in different parts of the breast.

Breast cancer is often divided into either:

  • non-invasive breast cancer found in the ducts of the breast which has not spread into the breast tissue surrounding the ducts. Non-invasive breast cancer is usually found during a mammogram and rarely shows as a breast lump.
  • invasive breast cancer where the cancer cells have spread through the lining of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer.

Other, less common types of breast cancer include:

  • invasive lobular breast cancer
  • inflammatory breast cancer

It’s possible for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually through the blood or the axillary lymph nodes. These are small lymphatic glands that filter bacteria and cells from the mammary gland.

If this happens, it’s known as secondary, or metastatic, breast cancer.

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Causes Of Breast Cancer: How Did This Happen

When youre told that you have breast cancer, its natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. But no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesnt, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. What we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cells DNA.

How You Might Feel

What is breast cancer?

Having a new primary breast cancer can come as a shock. It might be hard to accept that you have to go through treatment all over again when you thought you had put that part of your life behind you. For some it may feel a little less frightening this time around. For others it may be more frightening.

Its important that you have a chance to ask questions. Your cancer specialist is often the best person to ask as they can give you information about your individual situation. Your breast care nurse can also be a source of information and support.

You might find it helpful to contact other people who are experiencing something similar.

You can post and receive messages of support on our Forum.

Our Someone Like Me service can put you in contact with someone who has been in a similar position to you.

Also Check: Did Anne Hathaway Have Breast Cancer

Outcome Analysis Of Breast Cancer Patients Who Declined Evidence

Here is the recent paper I referred to above, which studied women with breast cancer in Northern Alberta who refused standard treatments. It was also a chart review with a matched pair analysis that compared survival with those that received conventional cancer care. Between 1980 and 2006 they identified 185 women that refused cancer care following diagnosis by biopsy. Women older than 75 were excluded from the analysis because this population is generally not included in clinical trials and active treatment regimens. In addition, women that accepted surgery, but rejected chemotherapy/radiation were excluded from the analysis. To qualify, women had to have rejected all conventional care. The final population studied was 87 women, most of whom presented with early disease. Most were married, over the age of 50, and urban residents. In this group, the primary treatment was CAM in 58%, and was unknown in the remainder. Some women in this group eventually accepted cancer care, and the average delay was 20-30 weeks due to CAM use.

The results were grim. The 5 year overall survival was 43% for women that declined cancer care, and 86% for women that received conventional cancer care. For cancer-specific survival survival was 46% vs. 85% in those that took cancer care. The survival curves are ugly:

All causes of deaths and deaths due to breast cancer only

The authors compared the CAM group to those where treatment plan was not known:

Can I Get An Ultrasound Instead Of A Mammogram

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Is a breast ultrasound better than a mammogram?

When Ultrasound May Be Helpful In cases like these, a breast ultrasound may detect breast cancer better than a mammogram. The point here, however, is that when a lump is present, imaging is done for diagnosis, rather than screening.

Can you detect breast cancer with an ultrasound?Ultrasoundbreast cancerultrasound

Recommended Reading: How To Tell If Breast Cancer Has Metastasized

What Are Breast Cancer Symptoms And Signs

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast. In addition, the following are possible signs of breast cancer:

  • Thickening or lump in the breast that feels different from the surrounding area
  • Inverting of the nipple
  • Nipple discharge or redness
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Angiosarcoma
  • Tubular carcinoma
  • What Can Happen If Breast Cancer Remains Untreated

    What Happens Once I Finish Breast Cancer Treatment?

    by VeraV | Feb 17, 2014 |

    Breast cancer is a serious form of cancer that affects one in eight women in America. Due to an incredible amount of research and many advances in medical technology, being diagnosed with breast cancer is no longer a death sentence. However, it is crucial to note that if left untreated, breast cancer can be quite serious and even deadly. Breast cancer without treatment has a much higher mortality rate than a cancer diagnosis which is caught and treated early. Knowing the risk factors associated with untreated breast cancer is important to really understand the severity of breast cancer and the complications that can occur if it goes untreated.

    Untreated Tumors

    Breast cancer begins with cancerous tumors or growths in the breast tissue. If the cancer is diagnosed and treated while the tumor is contained, often the prognosis for remission and survival is quite high. However, if left untreated the tumor can quickly grow, allowing more cancerous cells to spread through the body. The cancer begins to grow within the breast tissue and can erode through the skin of the breast. This can lead to an open tumor that is highly susceptible to infection. Untreated tumors are painful, can become infected, and may spread throughout the body. Thus, if the tumours are not treated quickly, they can become serious within a short period of time.

    Noninvasive Tumors Versus Invasive Tumors


    Metastasized Cancer

    Osteolytic Metastasis

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    What Will Happen If I Opt Out Of Breast Cancer Treatment

    Dr. Harold Burstein answers: ‘What Will Happen if I Don’t Treat Breast Cancer?’

    Question: What will happen to me if I decide not to have any treatments for my breast cancer?

    Answer: Well, the hope for women with early stage breast cancer is that by using surgery and radiation therapy and, where appropriate, chemotherapy and hormonal treatments, that we can help prevent the cancer from coming back. And each of those therapies has been studied in very well-controlled clinical studies and shown to be valuable for many women. So in terms of optimizing your chance of being alive five or ten years from now, we often encourage women to think about these very specific treatments.

    Many of these treatments have side effects. Sometimes they are disfiguring sometimes they make people fatigued or feel sick sometimes they cause menopausal symptoms. And nobody likes the idea of getting medical treatment when they don’t need it. So again, many of these decisions will be very individual and appropriate only for you and so you need to talk to your doctor.

    Having said all that, there are compelling studies that show that most of these treatments help women live longer and so we often recommend them because we’re trying to do everything we can to help you survive better. There’s no guarantee that these treatments will prevent the cancer from coming back, but they represent the state of the art for medical knowledge right now and we do encourage them.

    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.

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    What Is A Normal Breast

    No breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications. Breasts also tend to change as you age. For more information, see the National Cancer Institutes Breast Changes and Conditions.external icon

    How Is A Second Primary Breast Cancer Treated

    Breast Cancer Awareness Quiz, October 2018

    Treatment for a new primary cancer will depend on the breast in which it is diagnosed.

    If its in the same breast as your first cancer, and you previously had a wide local excision and radiotherapy, then a mastectomy is usually recommended. This is because its not usually possible to give radiotherapy to the same area twice because of damage to the tissue.

    If the new primary cancer is diagnosed in the other breast then, as with your first breast cancer, the type of surgery recommended will depend on the size and location of the cancer.

    Treatment for the new breast cancer will be decided based on your individual situation. This will depend on features such as:

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    What Does It Mean To Have Stage 4 Breast Cancer

    Stage 4 breast cancer means that the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the brain, bones, lung and liver.

    Although Stage 4 breast cancer is not curable, it is usually treatable and current advances in research and medical technology mean that more and more women are living longer by managing the disease as a chronic illness with a focus on quality of life as a primary goal. With excellent care and support, as well as personal motivation, Stage 4 breast cancer may respond to a number of treatment options that can extend your life for several years.

    Conditions That Can Raise Your Risk Of Breast Cancer

    • Personal history. Women who have , a breast disease that is not cancer, or who have had breast cancer before have an increased risk.
    • Family history. A woman’s risk of breast cancer increases if her mother, sister, daughter, or two or more other close relatives, such as cousins, have a history of breast cancer, especially if they were diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger.
    • A small number of women who have a family history of breast cancer have inherited changes to certain genes, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, that increase their breast cancer risk.
    • are available to find out if you have the genetic mutations long before any cancer appears.
  • Breast changes. Some breast changes, such as having , , or , increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
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    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

    Tamoxifen And Raloxifene For Women At High Risk

    Questions to Ask After a Breast Biopsy

    Although not commonly thought of as a healthybehavior, taking the prescription drugs tamoxifenand raloxifene can significantly lower the risk ofbreast cancer in woman at high risk of the disease.Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention,these powerful drugs can have side effects, sothey arent right for everyone. If you think youreat high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be right for you.

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    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.

    What Role Does The Brca Gene Test Have In Breast Cancer

    The BRCA gene test analyses DNA to look for harmful mutations in two breast cancer genes . This test is performed as a routine blood test. The test should only be performed on patients who have specific types of breast cancers or have a family history suggesting the possibility of having an inherited mutation. These mutations are uncommon, and inherited BRCA gene mutations are responsible for about 10% of breast cancers.

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    Living With Breast Cancer

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

    How people cope with the diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. There are several forms of support available, if you need it.

    Forms of support may include:

    • family and friends, who can be a powerful support system
    • communicating with other people in the same situation
    • finding out as much as possible about your condition
    • not trying to do too much or overexerting yourself
    • making time for yourself

    Find out more about living with breast cancer.

    How Is Tamoxifen Taken

    The Complete Guide To Seeing A Breast Surgeon For Cancer ...

    Tamoxifen is taken as a tablet.

    Occasionally it may be prescribed as a liquid for people who have difficulty swallowing.

    The recommended dose for most people is 20mg daily.

    Its best to take it at the same time every day.

    If you miss a dose, you dont need to take an extra one the next day. The level of the drug in your body will remain high enough from the previous day.

    Some versions of tamoxifen contain small amounts of lactose. If you know you are lactose intolerant discuss this with your treatment team or pharmacist.

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    How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed

    During your regular physical examination, your doctor will take a thorough personal and family medical history. He or she will also perform and/or order one or more of the following:

    • Breast examination: During the breast exam, the doctor will carefully feel the lump and the tissue around it. Breast cancer usually feels different than benign lumps.
    • Digital mammography: An X-ray test of the breast can give important information about a breast lump. This is an X-ray image of the breast and is digitally recorded into a computer rather than on a film. This is generally the standard of care .
    • Ultrasonography: This test uses sound waves to detect the character of a breast lump whether it is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass . This may be performed along with the mammogram.

    Based on the results of these tests, your doctor may or may not request a biopsy to get a sample of the breast mass cells or tissue. Biopsies are performed using surgery or needles.

    After the sample is removed, it is sent to a lab for testing. A pathologist a doctor who specializes in diagnosing abnormal tissue changes views the sample under a microscope and looks for abnormal cell shapes or growth patterns. When cancer is present, the pathologist can tell what kind of cancer it is and whether it has spread beyond the ducts or lobules .


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