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What To Do If You Suspect Breast Cancer

What Happens Once Ive Been Referred

Stuff Breast Cancer Survivors Say

Depending on where you live, you might get your appointment by phone, post or email.

During the pandemic, your first appointment may be over the phone, a video call or it might be at the hospital. Hospital staff will let you know when and how you have this. Its important that you keep your appointment, so do let them know if you need to change it.

Check your GP has your current contact details. If your symptoms get worse, tell your GP.

If you dont get your appointment details within a week, contact your GP surgery . Tell them its an urgent suspected cancer referral.

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

Your Urgent Cancer Referral Explained

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, you may have to wait longer for your urgent cancer referral. Your first appointment may be over the phone, a video call or at the hospital. Hospital staff will let you know when and how you have this. Its important that you keep your appointment, so do let them know if you need to change it.

We know it is difficult waiting for appointments and results. It might help to know what to expect and think of what questions to ask.

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Is There A Blood Test For Breast Cancer

No, but in a 2018 study, an experimental blood test called CancerSEEK that measures levels of certain proteins and genetic material was able to detect several types of cancer, including breast cancer. However, considerably more research will be needed to determine whether such a “liquid biopsy” is a viable way to test for breast cancer.

Pagets Disease Of The Breast

What to do if you suspect breast cancer ...

This is a rare skin condition that is sometimes a sign of an underlying breast cancer. The symptoms are a red, scaly rash on the nipple and surrounding area. This can be itchy and looks a bit like eczema. It is sometimes mistaken for eczema at first.

See your doctor if you have any changes in the skin of your breast.

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My Aunt Lost Both Her Breasts And Died

This may seem obvious, but sometimes we blurt out a negative story in the shock of the moment. Try to take a moment to pause before responding with something like this.

Thats just setting people into an alarm state, and thats not helpful, says Muradian.

Though your concerns are valid, they wont help your friend.

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.

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How Can You Know If Breast Cancer Has Spread

A clue is symptoms that reflect where the cancer has spreadfor example, a cough or shortness of breath if it has reached the lungs. To confirm a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, an oncologist may use a number of tests, such as imaging or blood tests. If the lungs are involved, this might be an X-ray or ultrasound of the chest and/or a bronchoscopy. If the brain is involved, an MRI of the brain may be performed.

Discussing The Diagnosis And Planning Therapy

Explaining Triple Negative Breast Cancer

It is quite normal not to remember all of the important information shortly after receiving such an upsetting . It is also common to feel scared and confused, and need some time to come to terms with the news. It can then be a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss any questions you still have. Taking some notes before the appointment can help you remember what you want to ask about. You could also invite a friend or relative to come along. Joining a self-help group to share experiences with other women with breast cancer is another way to find support.

You can always get a second opinion too. This is fairly common, and you can decide whether or not you want to tell the first doctor that you are getting a second opinion. Statutory health insurers in Germany will usually cover the costs. But you can contact your insurer to double-check.

The following questions might help you to make a decision about whether to have treatment:

  • How can the treatment improve your health?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • How would the therapy influence your quality of life? How would it affect your career and family in everyday life?
  • What other treatment options are available? How do their advantages and disadvantages compare?
  • What happens if you decide not to have the cancer treated for now? What would the likely course of the disease be in that case?
  • Is there research on new medications designed to treat metastatic breast cancer that may be an option for you?

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Lymphatic And Vascular System

There is a lymphatic and vascular network inside the breast. The vascular system consists of blood vessels, and the lymphatic system consists of lymph channels.

These two systems work together to carry blood and fluid to and from the breast tissue to the rest of the body.

If breast cancer enters these systems, it can travel throughout the body, increasing the chance of it spreading or coming back.

Lymph nodes are clusters of bean-shaped cells present throughout the lymphatic system. These are immune cells that act as filters. They are the first place breast cancer is likely to spread.

Testing For Proteins And Genes

The breast cancer cells will be tested for certain proteins called estrogen and progesterone receptors. If the cancer has these proteins, it’s called a hormone receptor positive breast cancer. The cells are also tested to see if the cancer makes too much of the HER2 protein. If it does, it’s called a HER2-positive cancer. These cancers are sometimes easier to treat. If the cancer doesn’t test positive for any of these proteins, it’s called a triple-negative breast cancer.

The cells might also be tested for certain genes, which can help decide if chemo might be helpful and how likely it is that the cancer will come back. Ask your doctor to explain the tests they plan to do, and what the results might mean.

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At Your Gp Appointment

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and how long you have had them. They will also ask you about your general health and will examine your breasts. They might also feel the lymph nodes under your arms and in your neck.

After your examination, your doctor might refer you to a hospital specialist or breast care clinic for tests. Some hospitals have a ‘one stop’ breast clinic where you can have several tests in one day.

Ask your GP to explain if they dont think you need a referral or any tests. They might ask you to go back in a week or two if your symptoms continue. Go back if they change or get worse.

How To Do A Breast Self

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Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.

Here’s what you should look for:

  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling

If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:

  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Breast Self-Exam Step 1
Larger Version

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That Sounds Like A Good Decision

Perhaps your friend chooses a doctor who youve heard mixed reviews about or isnt the one another friend told you is the best in the region.

Gowrinathan advises to keep it to yourself. Its best to validate your friends decision.

Its really easy to second-guess yourself in terms of who you choose to treat you, she says. Be supportive of peoples choices, even if its not what you heard.

Unsolicited advice, even if youve had breast cancer, is often well-meaning but ill-received.

I know we all come from a helpful place but its invasive, Muradian says. It backfires. Now, youre inundated with what to do and someone elses experience. That pushes the other person away.

If youve had breast cancer before and are open to sharing recommendations and experiences, its best to put the ball in your friends court. Let them process things at their own pace and make decisions that work best for them.

Well, I understand what you are going through, and if you want to talk through my experience, Im here for you, Muradian says. You dont know what stage theyre in, so its all about being compassionate and mindful.

Lab Tests With Breast Tissue

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor may order special lab tests on the breast tissue that was removed:

  • Hormone receptor tests: Some breast tumors need hormones to grow. These tumors have receptors for the hormones estrogen, progesterone, or both. If the hormone receptor tests show that the breast tumor has these receptors, then hormone therapy is usually part of the recommended treatment plan.
  • HER2/neu test: HER2/neu protein is found on some types of cancer cells. This test shows whether the tissue either has too much HER2/neu protein or too many copies of its gene. If the breast tumor has too much HER2/neu, then targeted therapy may be a treatment option.
  • Genetic testing: Some breast cancers are caused by genetic factors. Genetic testing will reveal if their are any harmful BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene mutations which could affect your personalized, breast cancer treatment plan.

It may take several weeks to get the results of these tests, which we realize will be a stressful time for you. While it can be hard to wait patiently, be assured that going over these test results in depth will help your doctor decide which cancer treatments may be options for you.

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Avoid Birth Control Pills Particularly After Age 35 Or If You Smoke

Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer not to mention unwanted pregnancy so theres also a lot in its favor. If youre very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.

Foods That May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

HOW TO CHECK FOR BREAST CANCER

Keep in mind that many factors are associated with breast cancer development. While improving your diet can improve your overall health and reduce your cancer risk in general, its only one piece of the puzzle.

Even with a healthy diet, you still need regular breast cancer screenings like mammograms and manual checks. After all, early detection and diagnosis significantly increase survival rates. Talk to your healthcare provider for advice about breast cancer screenings.

All the same, research suggests that these foods may lower your risk of this disease.

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Prevention Of Breast Cancer

  • Get screened by the doctor frequently
  • Lower down the consumption of alcohol
  • Do not get exposed to carcinogenic agents
  • Maintain your body weight
  • Have an active life.

The journey from fearing that you might have breast cancer to being diagnosed with cancer is the most challenging time. Get in touch with the best oncologist in Gurgaon to connect and share your problems with. Family and friends are the most outstanding pillars of support, rely on them, and you will feel much stronger than ever!

Dr. Kaushal Yadav is one of the best oncologists in Gurgaon, India. If you are worried about your chances of breast cancer, visit him for a detailed examination!

Should Men At Higher Risk For Breast Cancer Get Screening Mammograms

Men have less breast tissue than women and fewer than 1 percent of men develop breast cancer, so national cancer screening guidelines do not recommend regular screening mammograms for men. However, if a doctor suspects breast cancer, a diagnostic mammogram may be needed to look for malignant tumors.

However, when a man is determined to be at higher risk for breast cancer, it is recommended that he have an annual clinical breast exam to check for breast changes that could indicate breast cancer.

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Screening For Breast Cancer

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.

If Your Biopsy Results Indicate Cancer

Here are Ways to Check If You Have Breast Cancer Yourself ...

The order in which you receive each treatment depends upon your cancer and its progression. Your overall health is also a factor. Not all women receive all of the aforementioned procedures, but some do.

All women with breast cancer will see a breast oncologist, or cancer specialist, following their cancer diagnosis. The oncologist is integral in determining the treatment path and order by consulting with your primary physician or OB-GYN and a breast care specialist.

Some women may also do genetic testing if they qualify for it based on personal and family history and if they have insurance approval. The test examines many genes in the DNA including the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes for deleterious mutations that increase a persons risk for cancer. Depending on your test results, your treatment may be more or less aggressive.

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Treatments To Reduce Your Risk

If you have a greatly increased risk of developing breast cancer, for example, a BRCA gene carrier, treatment might be available to reduce your risk. This applies to a very small minority of women.

Your level of risk is determined by factors such as your age, your family’s medical history, and the results of genetic tests.

You will usually be referred to a specialist genetics service if it’s thought you have a significantly increased risk of breast cancer. Healthcare professionals working at these services might discuss treatment options with you.

The 2 main treatments are surgery to remove the breasts or medication. These are described in more detail below.

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