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What To Do If You Think You Have Breast Cancer

What Is The Tumor Grade

What to do if you find a lump in your breast?

Particular characteristics of breast cancer cells affect how aggressive your tumor is. These include the amount of tumor cells that are reproducing, and how abnormal the tumor cells appear when examined under a microscope.

The higher the grade, the less the cancer cells resemble normal breast cells. The grade of your tumor can influence your outlook and treatment plan.

Undergoing Medical Screening For Breast Cancer

  • 1Get a clinical breast exam. When you go in for your yearly physical or pelvic exam, ask your physician to do a manual check of your breasts for any suspicious lumps or other changes. Physicians are trained in how to do a breast exam and will know what to look for. This is why you should never try to replace this exam, though sometimes uncomfortable and awkward, with your own self-examination.XResearch source
  • Your doctor will begin by checking the appearance of your breasts. You will be asked to raise your arms over your head and then hang them down by your sides while the doctor examines the size and shape of your breasts. You will then undergo a physical examination. While you lie down on the examination table, your doctor will use the pads of their fingers to examine the entire breast area, including the armpits and collarbones. The exam should last for only for a few minutes.XResearch source
  • If you feel uncomfortable, you can ask for a nurse or family member to be present in the room for the exam. If youâre a female patient seeing a male doctor, this is standard procedure in most cases. If you feel any anxiety, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is a necessary part of keeping an eye on your health.
  • Diagnostic mammogram: A breast X-ray to evaluate the lump. This may take longer than a screening mammogram because more images will be required.
  • It’s important to note that 80% of women have a breast biopsy do NOT have breast cancer.XResearch source
  • How Far Has My Tumor Spread

    Understanding what stage of breast cancer you have is important. Ask your doctor to explain the stage to you and find out where else besides the breast any tumors are located.

    According to the National Cancer Institute, the stage of your breast cancer is based on the size of the tumor, whether the cancer has spread to any lymph nodes, and whether the cancer has spread to other areas in the body.

    Read Also: How To Determine Breast Cancer Risk

    Symptoms Of Secondary Breast Cancer

    Secondary breast cancer means that a cancer that began in the breast has spread to another part of the body. Secondary;cancer can also be called advanced or metastatic cancer.

    It might not mean that you have secondary breast;cancer;if you have the symptoms described below. They can be caused by other;conditions.

    Reducing Stress Is Critical

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    So many of us underestimate the impact stress has in our physical health.; The constant flow or cortisol and other stress-related hormones can wear our immune systems down by triggering an inflammatory response throughout the systems of the body.; Stress reduction is key, which means that its time for us to prioritize our mental health.; Ask yourself which areas in your life bring you the most stress, and consider some realistic changes that you can make, whether they be related to career, family or another major area of your day-to-day.; Consider embracing a mindfulness routine such as yoga or meditation, both of which are proven to increase our resilience to stress.

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    How Much Experience Do You Have Treating My Type And Stage Of Breast Cancer

    Oncologists who are experienced in not only treating breast cancer but in your specific type of breast cancer;are typically better equipped to explain and deliver the full range of treatment options. You should feel comfortable asking your doctor about his or her experience. Doctors and the hospitals they may work for are not required by law to publish the survival rates of the patients they treat, but some choose to do so. Others may be willing to provide these statistics upon request.

    Hrt Can Fuel Cancer Growth

    Many women use HRT to address symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and mood swings. While HRT doesnt cause breast cancer, we know that estrogen, a female hormone found in HRT, fuels breast cancer cells.

    If youre destined to get breast cancer, HRT can speed its arrival by as much as a decade, says Shockney.

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    Establishing A Breast Cancer Healthcare Team

    Patients should form a care team to ensure complete care is provided upon receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Whether it is through emotional support or medical procedures, establishing a team that can help a patient’s treatment and recovery journey from all angles is essential in the process. Members of this team can include:

    • Primary care doctor
    • Plastic surgeon
    • Patient navigator

    This team of individuals can provide quality care, whether it be through counseling or medical procedures, along with the comfort that patients will need during a critical time in their lives. If a patient must undergo a double mastectomy to prevent the cancer from spreading, post-cancer treatment such as breast reconstruction surgery may be necessary and may require another doctor and specialist. Depending on the severity of the prognosis, a team of palliative care or spiritual support providers may be needed throughout the process to help support both patients and their families.

    What Size Is My Tumor And Why Does That Matter

    A Breast Cancer Diagnosis: What you need to know

    Treatment options for breast cancer partly depend on how small or large your tumor is, if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and if the cancer is found in other parts of your body. The larger the tumor, the more likely it is that the breast cancer is lymph node-positive, meaning the axillary lymph nodes contain cancer. Sentinel node biopsy is the most common way to determine whether cancer cells have spread beyond the breast.

    Recommended Reading: What Are The Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer

    Further Tests For Breast Cancer

    If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and to work out the best method of treatment.;

    If;your;cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, you’ll have further tests in the screening centre before being referred for treatment.;

    Breast Cancer: What If You Did Nothing

    Why some women with early-stage breast cancer choose to do nothing

    The cover of this past weeks issue of TIME magazine features the torso of a woman, her hands shielding her breasts, and a single question: “What if I decide to just do nothing?” The question is jarring because we know what its referring to: the asker has breast cancer, and she wants to know if the best course of action is no action at all.

    Its a radical idea, to do nothing when faced with a breast cancer diagnosis, particularly this month, when were surrounded by pink products and encouraged to join the fight to beat breast cancer. And when we know that breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in Canadian women, and that 5,000 women in this country die each year from the disease, it seems astonishing that a woman would choose to wait and watch. But as TIME author Siobhan OConnor writes in her article, Why Doctors are Rethinking Breast Cancer Treatment,research suggests that some women with early-stage breast cancer are being over treated.

    New research released in August brought this issue to public attention. The study, published in the journal JAMA Oncology, followed 100,000 diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ , also known as Stage 0 breast cancer, for 20 years. Researchers discovered that no matter the course of treatment the women had roughly the same chance of dying from breast cancer as the average woman does .;

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    After My Breast Cancer Surgery Will I Need Radiation Or Chemotherapy Or Both

    The stage of breast cancer helps determine which treatment regimen your oncologist will recommend. After breast-sparing surgery, radiation treatments may be used to help destroy remaining breast cancer cells. Radiation therapy is typically given after surgery to lower the chance of a cancer recurrence. Adjuvant breast cancer chemotherapy may be used after surgery to destroy remaining cancer cells not killed during surgery.

    Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Things You Can Do To Stay Healthy

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    Throughout the month of October, Sky Wellness will be donating proceeds from sales to the;Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer; a nonprofit whose mission is to provide high quality information and support to Black breast cancer patients within the Phoenix metropolitan area, and to educate the Black community about breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, and screening and also to;Bosom Buddies of Arizona; an organization founded to increase awareness of breast cancer by prevention, early detection and to provide support to women and men diagnosed with breast cancer, and their families.

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a sobering time during which we honor those who we have lost to this tragically common disease, while bringing awareness to those who are at risk of developing it through the encouragement of screenings and making healthy choices.; About 13% of American women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime, along with 2 to 3,000 men in the United States.

    Read Also: What Happens When Breast Cancer Spreads

    What Life Is Like When You Have Breast Cancerand Kids

    Of all the monsters parents clear from beneath beds and darkened closets, few actually have us in their crosshairs. Theres one scary beast, though, that takes hold of unlucky moms and bites into entire families. Breast cancer, although primarily diagnosed later in life, affects about 1,200 Canadian women under the age of 40 each year. For them, diagnosis arrives when life seems so full its overflowing: with growing families, work, overlooked dust bunnies, friends that dont deserve another last-minute cancellation. Yet the onset of breast cancer demands all of it be put on the back burner so Mom can deal with an enormous challengeoften one shes never felt less equipped or more surprised to face.

    No one has more claims on their time than parents of little kids. And no one expects, as young adults, to get cancer, says Geoff Eaton, executive director of Young Adult Cancer Canada. The reality of having to face the possibility of your death way sooner than you were expecting is a lot more intense when you have children.

    Many womens first thought upon being diagnosed is whether theyll die from it. That fear is fed by the statistics showing that women under 40 tend to have more aggressive forms of breast cancer and face higher likelihoods it will recur later in life.

    Stage Of Breast Cancer

    When breast cancer is diagnosed, your doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread, and is used to predict the outlook.

    Ductal carcinoma in situ is sometimes described as stage 0. Other stages of breast cancer describe invasive breast cancer and include:

    • stage 1 ;the tumour measures less than 2cm and the lymph nodes in the armpit are not affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
    • stage 2 ;the tumour measures 2 to 5cm,;the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
    • stage 3 ;the tumour measures;2 to 5cm and may be attached to structures in the breast, such as skin or surrounding tissues, and;the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected. There are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body
    • stage 4;;the tumour is of any size and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

    This is a simplified guide. Each stage is divided into further categories: A, B and C. If you’re not sure what stage you have, talk to your doctor.

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

    What Are The Different Options For Surgery

    Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. Procedures may include:

    • Mastectomy: This surgery removes one or both breasts, including the breast tissue, nipple, areola and skin.
    • Lumpectomy: Also known as breast-conserving surgery, this operation removes only the cancerous breast tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible. A lumpectomy is not an option for every breast cancer patient.
    • Sentinel node biopsy: This is the removal of one or a few of the first draining lymph nodes to determine whether cancer cells have spread beyond the breast.
    • Oncoplastic and breast reconstruction surgery: This reconstructive technique reshapes the breast and also may be used to prevent scarring and deformation of the breast.

    Family History Is Only Part Of Cancer Risk

    How Did I Know I Had Breast Cancer?

    One common misconception around breast cancer is thinking youre not at risk if you dont have a family history of breast cancer.

    Only 12 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer have any family history of breast cancer, says Lillie Shockney, a breast cancer survivor and co-developer of Work Stride Managing Cancer at Work program. Other risk factors you need to be aware of include a sedentary lifestyle and taking hormone replacement therapy .

    Read Also: How Does Metastatic Breast Cancer Start

    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.

    What About Other Treatments That I Hear About

    When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.

    Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.

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    You’re Experiencing Abnormal Discharge

    While nipple discharge from breast milk is totally normal, if you’re noticing discharge that’s clear or bloody, that’s something you should get checked out since it could be a sign of breast cancer, says the National Breast Cancer Foundation. If you have discharge that’s milky, it could be something else, like hormonal changes or certain medication use.

    What Do Breast Lumps Feel Like

    Breast Cancer, aspects you did not know.

    How breast lumps feel depends on their cause, location, and growth. They can vary from painful, hard, and immobile to soft, painless, and easily moveable.

    Lumps are most likely to be cancerous if they do not cause pain and are hard, unevenly shaped, and immobile.

    Other breast lumps can feel different:

    • Fibroadenoma lumps tend to be painless, easily movable, smooth, and rounded. They may disappear on their own.
    • Breast cysts are smooth but firm.
    • Breast abscesses and mastitis usually cause painful, swollen lumps, and there may also be a fever and flushing around the affected skin.

    Read Also: How Many Rounds Of Chemo For Breast Cancer

    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

    Regular Screenings Are The Best Measure Of All

    The most effective measure for preventing breast cancer is getting screened for it.; Once a woman turns 40, she should have a mammogram annually.; Women who are at high risk for breast cancer, including those who have a history of the illness in their family, should start getting screened earlier than that, under the guidance of their doctor.; By getting screened regularly, you may be able to detect pre-cancerous developments before they turn into cancer.

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    Which Surgical Option Do You Recommend Why

    To determine which surgical approach may address your needs and treatment goals, your surgical oncologist may rely on information from the radiologist, who reads imaging tests; the pathologist, who interprets the biopsy results; the radiation oncologist, who works with the surgeon to plan radiation treatment either during or immediately after surgery; and the medical oncologist, to predict how preoperative drug treatment may help reduce the size of the tumor. Depending on the biology and genetics of the tumor, your care team may recommend chemotherapy before or after surgery.

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