What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer may help save your life. When the disease is discovered early, there are more treatment options and a better chance for a cure.
Most painful breast lumps are not cancerous. Any discrete breast lump whether painful or not should be evaluated because breast cancer often presents as a lump or thickening.
What Is A Histological Work
Determining your type of breast cancer begins with a histological workup, a summary prepared by the pathologist after you undergo a biopsy. Essentially, the histological evaluation is the microscopic analysis of the chemical and cellular properties associated with a suspicious breast tumor. The pathologists here at Providence Saint Johns will also confirm the size of the breast tumor where necessary for breast cancer staging purposes. The histological evaluation is essential to determine the most effective treatment recommendations following surgery.
Swelling In Or Around Your Breast Collarbone Or Armpit
Swelling in these areas can occur for many reasons but may indicate cancer. Breast swelling can be caused by certain types of breast cancer. Swelling or lumps around your collarbone or armpits can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in those areas. The swelling can occur even before you can feel a lump in your breast. If you have swelling, be sure to let your health care team know as soon as possible.
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Who Is Mainly Affected By Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women, second only to skin cancer. Its most likely to affect women over the age of 50.
Though rare, men can also develop breast cancer. Approximately 2,600 men develop male breast cancer every year in the United States, making up less than 1% of all cases.
Transgender women are more likely to develop breast cancer compared to cisgender men. Additionally, transgender men are less likely to develop breast cancer compared to cisgender women.
What age does breast cancer occur?
Breast cancer is most often diagnosed in adults over the age of 50, but it can occur at any age.
What race is most affected by breast cancer?
Overall, women who are non-Hispanic white have a slightly higher chance of developing breast cancer than women of any other race or ethnicity. Women who are non-Hispanic Black are almost as likely as non-Hispanic white women to develop the disease. Statistically, women who are Asian, Hispanic or Native American are the least likely to develop breast cancer.
Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Despite initial treatment and success, breast cancer can sometimes come back. This is called recurrence. Recurrence happens when a small number of cells escape the initial treatment.
Symptoms of a recurrence in the same place as the first breast cancer are very similar to symptoms of the first breast cancer. They include:
- a new breast lump
- redness or swelling of the breast
- a new thickening near the mastectomy scar
If breast cancer comes back regionally, it means that the cancer has returned to the lymph nodes or near to the original cancer but not exactly the same place. The symptoms may be slightly different.
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Breast Cancer Symptoms & Signs
Breast cancer symptoms vary from person to person and there is no exact definition of what a lump or mass feels like. The best thing to do is to be familiar with your breasts so you know how normal feels and looks. If you notice any changes, tell your doctor. While regular self-exams are important, many breast cancers are found through regular screening mammograms before any symptoms appear.
Breast cancer symptoms may include:
- Lump or mass in the breast
- Lump or mass in the armpit
- Breast skin changes, including skin redness and thickening of the breast skin, resulting in an orange-peel texture
- Dimpling or puckering on the breast
- Discharge from the nipple
How To Reduce Risk
There is no guaranteed way to prevent breast cancer, but there are certain steps a person can take to lower their risk.
Actions that may lower the risk of breast cancer include:
- Get to a healthy weight: High body weight and weight gain as an adult increase the risk of breast cancer after menopause. The
Several benign breast conditions can cause symptoms that resemble those of cancer. Some of these issues require treatment, while others go away on their own.
Though these conditions are benign, they can cause:
- discomfort or pain
Some common benign breast conditions include:
If a person is unsure what is causing any breast-related symptom, they should talk with a doctor as soon as possible.
As with most cancers, early breast cancer detection and treatment leads to a better outcome. People should attend regular breast examinations and tell a doctor about any breast-related symptoms or changes.
According to the ACS , when a doctor diagnoses breast cancer before it has spread beyond the breast, the relative 5-year survival rate is 99%.
Relative survival rates can help people understand the likelihood of treatment being successful. A relative 5-year survival rate indicates the percentage of people living 5 years after their diagnosis compared to people without the disease.
When breast cancer has spread beyond the breast to the lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 86%. The same survival rate for cancer that has spread to other organs is 29%.
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How To Perform A Breast Self
With fat necrosis, the mass cant be distinguished from a cancerous lump without a biopsy.
Even though the majority of breast lumps are caused by less severe conditions, new, painless lumps are still the most common symptom of breast cancer.
What Are The Early Signs Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer symptoms can vary for each person. Possible signs of breast cancer include:
- A change in the size, shape or contour of your breast.
- A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
- A lump or thickening in or near your breast or in your underarm that persists through your menstrual cycle.
- A change in the look or feel of your skin on your breast or nipple .
- Redness of your skin on your breast or nipple.
- An area thats distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
- A marble-like hardened area under your skin.
- A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from your nipple.
Some people dont notice any signs of breast cancer at all. Thats why routine mammograms and are so important.
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What Is Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is aggressive and fast-growing breast cancer in which cancer cells infiltrate the skin and lymph vessels of the breast. It often produces no distinct tumor or lump that can be felt and isolated within the breast. But when the lymph vessels become blocked by the breast cancer cells, symptoms begin to appear.
Lobular Carcinoma In Situ
Lobular carcinoma in situ refers to an area of abnormal cells confined to the breasts milk-producing glands.
Because these cells do not spread to surrounding tissues, doctors do not lobular carcinoma situ to be cancer. However, it can increase the chances of developing other types of invasive breast cancer.
This condition rarely causes symptoms. Doctors lobular carcinoma in situ during a breast biopsy for another problem in the breast area. In some cases, tiny white specs of calcium called microcalcifications appear on a routine mammogram.
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Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in your breast or underarm that doesnât go away. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
- Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. This could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Swelling may start before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it.
- Pain and tenderness, although lumps donât usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
- A flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you canât see or feel.
- Breast changes such as a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.
- Changes in your nipple, like one that:
- Pulls inward
- Develops sores
Change In Size Shape Or Feel Of Your Breast
A cancer might cause your breast to look bigger or have a different shape than usual, it might feel different.
Many healthy women find that their breasts feel lumpy and tender just before their period.
It can help to be breast aware. This means getting to know the size, shape and feel of your breasts.
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Later Signs Of Breast Cancer
Later signs of breast cancer include:
- retraction, or inward turning of the nipple
- enlargement of one breast
- enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
- visible veins on the breast
Having one or more of these symptoms doesnt necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Nipple discharge, for example, can also be caused by an infection. See a doctor for a complete evaluation if you experience any of these signs and symptoms.
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Signs and symptoms often appear when the tumour grows large enough to be felt as a lump in the breast or when the cancer spreads to surrounding tissues and organs. Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as breast cancer.
The most common symptom of ductal carcinoma is a firm or hard lump that feels very different from the rest of the breast. It may feel like it is attached to the skin or the surrounding breast tissue. The lump doesnt get smaller or come and go with your period. It may be tender, but its usually not painful. .
Lobular carcinoma often does not form a lump. It feels more like the tissue in the breast is getting thicker or harder.
Other symptoms of ductal and lobular breast cancer include:
- a lump in the armpit
- changes in the shape or size of the breast
- changes to the nipple, such as a nipple that suddenly starts to point inward
- discharge that comes out of the nipple without squeezing it or that has blood in it
Late signs and symptoms occur as the cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body, including other organs. Late symptoms of breast cancer include:
- bone pain
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What Do Lumps In My Breast Mean
Many conditions can cause lumps in the breast, including cancer. But most breast lumps are caused by other medical conditions. The two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.
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Other Potential Signs Of Breast Cancer Include:
- Lump in the breast or in the underarm
- A spontaneous or bloody discharge from the nipple
- New retraction or indentation of the nipple
- A change in the size or contour of the breast
- Any flattening or indentation of the skin over the breast
- Redness or pitting of the skin over the breast, like the skin of an orange
- Crustiness, ulceration or rash of the nipple or areola
A number of conditions other than breast cancer can cause breasts to change in size or feel. Breast tissue changes naturally during pregnancy and a womans menstrual cycle. Other possible causes of non-cancerous breast changes include fibrocystic changes, cysts, fibroadenomas, infection or injury.
If you find a lump or other change in your breast even if a recent mammogram was normal you should call us immediately. If you havent yet gone through menopause, you may want to wait through one menstrual cycle before seeing your doctor. If the change hasnt gone away after a month, have it evaluated.
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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.
The Reports Of Your Radiology Exams Usually Contain Three Sections:
- Exam description and history the type of exam, day it was performed, the reason it was performed and any important patient information
- Findings a detailed description of the important findings on the exam including size, shape, location and changes
- Impression a summary of the findings, what they mean and what to do about them Radiologists use standard terms in reports to describe the appearance of important findings.
Some examples of those terms include mass, architectural distortion and calcifications. The radiologist will also describe the size, shape and location of important findings. The size and location can be critical to making decisions about the kind of operation and other treatments you might have.
Radiologists will use a clock face or quadrant to describe the location. There is a separate clock for each breast and they are oriented as if the doctor is looking at you during an examination. In the diagram below, the nipple is in the center of the clock for both breasts. The outer left breast is at 3 oclock and the outer right breast is at 9 oclock. In the left breast the upper outer quadrant is between 12 and 3 oclock.
The radiologist will also describe the size and location of a finding by indicating the distance from the nipple in centimeters. Centimeters are smaller than an inch. There are 2.54 centimeters in an inch.
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Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
Ductal carcinoma in situ refers to an area of abnormal cells on one milk duct.
When a person receives this diagnosis, the cells have not invaded the surrounding breast tissue. However, having ductal carcinoma in situ can increase the risk of developing invasive breast cancer later.
This condition generally does not cause symptoms. Doctors find through mammography. Rarely, a person may notice a lump in the breast or some discharge from the nipple.
Breast Lumps Or Lumpiness
Many women find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture.
Some women have more lumpiness in their breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then its likely normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast or that feel like a change should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition .
See a health care provider if you:
- Find a new lump that feels different from the rest of your breast
- Find a new lump that feels different from your other breast
- Feel something thats different from what you felt before
If youve had a benign lump in the past, dont assume a new lump will also be benign. The new lump may not be breast cancer, but its best to make sure.
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A Change In The Breast Or Nipple Appearance
- Any unexplained change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling anywhere on the breast
- Unexplained swelling of the breast
- Unexplained shrinkage of the breast
- Recent asymmetry of the breasts. Although it is common for women to have one breast that is slightly larger than the other, if the onset of asymmetry is recent, it should be checked.
- Nipple that is turned slightly inward or inverted
- Skin of the breast, areola, or nipple that becomes scaly, red, or swollen or may have ridges or pitting resembling the skin of an orange