Signs That Warrant An Immediate Trip To A Doctor
Some common cancer signs that should result in a visit to the emergency room or to a doctor as soon as possible include:
- coughing up mucus tinged with blood
- blood in stools or urine
- lump in the breast, testicles, under the arm, or anywhere that it didnt exist before
- unexplained but noticeable weight loss
- severe unexplained pain in the head, neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis
These and other signs and symptoms will be evaluated. Screenings, such as blood and urine tests and imaging tests, will be used if your doctor thinks its appropriate.
These tests are done both to help make a diagnosis as well as rule out various causes of your signs and symptoms.
When seeing a doctor, be prepared to share the following information:
- your personal medical history, including all symptoms you have experienced, as well as when they began
- family history of cancer or other chronic conditions
- list of all medications and supplements you take
Normal Breast Changes Through Life
The female breast will go through various normal changes over the course of a lifetime. Many of these changes are driven by hormones. They can be related to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or the normal aging process. Most breast changes are not cancer, however, if you do notice an unusual breast change, it is important that you speak with your doctor so that it can be checked as soon as possible.
Normal breast changes throughout life include:
How Does Cancer Start In The Breast
To understand how cancer can originate, it can be helpful to understand how regular cells and tissues function and develop.
Healthy cells are the basic building blocks of all tissues and organs in the body. The body is constantly making new cells to replace worn out tissue or to heal injuries. Normal cells are programmed to grow and divide in an orderly and controlled manner, so that each new cell replaces ones that are lost.
Sometimes cells become abnormal and keep growing. As they grow, they can form a mass or lump called a tumour. However, not all tumours are cancer. Some tumours are benign , which means they tend to grow slowly and usually do not invade surrounding tissue or other parts of the body. Tumours that are malignant have the potential to invade and spread to other parts of the body.
Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow abnormally. These cells have the potential to grow out of control and invade the surrounding tissue. When this occurs, this is called invasive breast cancer. If the cancer cells continue to grow, they may spread beyond the breast to other parts of body, which could become life-threatening.
There are different types of breast conditions which are named after the areas of the breast where they start:
Non-invasive breast conditions
Invasive breast cancers
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What About Screening For Breast Cancer
Evidence clearly indicates that women between the ages of 50 and 69 should have a mammogram every two years. Talk to your health care provider about the organized breast screening program in your province or territory. If you are 40-49 years of age or aged 70 or older, you are encouraged to discuss the benefits and limitations of mammography with your health care provider.
The booklet âInformation on Mammography for Women Aged 40 and Older: A Decision Aid for Breast Cancer Screening in Canadaâ is available on the Public Health Agency of Canada – Decision Aids website.
What Is Paget’s Disease Of The Breast
Paget’s disease of the breast is a rare type of cancer of the nipple area of the breast. It presents as eczema affecting the nipple and is often associated with an underlying in-situ or invasive carcinoma of the breast.
Many women find that their breasts become more lumpy and tender before periods. Breasts also alter their size and shape with increasing age, pregnancy and marked weight changes. What is important is that you get to know your own breasts – how they look and feel – and report any changes promptly to a doctor.
There are a number of things to look out for which might be breast cancer signs:
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What Does A Mammogram Show
A mammogram is a test used to examine the inside of the breasts, using a low dose X-ray. A trained clinician can interpret the images to identify any abnormal areas, masses or calcium deposits that may or may not indicate breast cancer. Mammograms performed on women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer are called screening mammograms. Mammograms that used to evaluate an abnormal breast symptom are called diagnostic mammograms.
What Is Breast Cancer
Cells in the body normally divide only when new cells are needed. Sometimes, cells in a part of the body grow and divide out of control, which creates a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the cells that are growing out of control are normal cells, the tumor is called benign. If, however, the cells that are growing out of control are abnormal and don’t function like the body’s normal cells, the tumor is called malignant .
Cancers are named after the part of the body from which they originate. Breast cancer originates in the breast tissue. Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding the breast. It can also travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors, a process called metastasis.
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Risks And Causes Of Breast Cancer
The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, but factors that seem to increase risk include:
- gender being a woman
- getting older women over 50 years of age are invited to take part in yearly mammograms to screen for breast cancer
- heredity having several close family members who have had breast cancer
- previous history of breast cancer women who have had breast cancer have a greater risk of developing it again
- certain breast diseases some types of breast disease that are found through mammograms indicate an increased risk.
Where Breast Cancer Starts
Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast.
- Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple
- Some start in the glands that make breast milk
- There are also other types of breast cancer that are less common like phyllodes tumor and angiosarcoma
- A small number of cancers start in other tissues in the breast. These cancers are called sarcomas and lymphomas and are not really thought of as breast cancers.
Although many types of breast cancer can cause a lump in the breast, not all do. See Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms to learn what you should watch for and report to a health care provider. Many breast cancers are also found on screening mammograms, which can detect cancers at an earlier stage, often before they can be felt, and before symptoms develop.
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Inherited Versus Acquired Dna Mutations
Normal breast cells become cancer because of changes in DNA. DNA is the chemical in our cells that makes up our genes. Genes have the instructions for how our cells function.
Some DNA mutations are inherited or passed to you from your parents. This means the mutations are in all your cells when you are born. Some mutations can greatly increase the risk of certain cancers. They cause many of the cancers that run in some families and often cause cancer when people are younger.
But most DNA mutations linked to breast cancer are acquired. This means the change takes place in breast cells during a person’s life rather than having been inherited or born with them. Acquired DNA mutations take place over time and are only in the breast cancer cells.
Mutated DNA can lead to mutated genes. Some genes control when our cells grow, divide into new cells, and die. Changes in these genes can cause the cells to lose normal control and are linked to cancer.
Clinical Trials For Dogs With Breast Cancer
Treatments for mammary tumors in dogs are constantly evolving. Some of the most promising clinical trials are discussed below.
The administration of a recombinant measles virus has shown promise in slowing down the progression of tumor growth .
Flutamide is an anti-androgen, or anti-testosterone, drug. Despite most tests of the drugs effectiveness being conducted on mice, the administration of flutamide has been shown to inhibit metastasis and reduce tumor sizes .
Adjuvant Oxytocin or Desmopressin
In aggressive cases of mammary tumors, surgery may not be enough to increase survival time. Treatment with oxytocin or desmopressin may have beneficial effects on simple carcinomas, although further studies are required .
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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
Stages Of Breast Cancer
When cancer is diagnosed, a stage is assigned to it, based on how advanced it is. The stage helps doctors determine the most appropriate treatment and the prognosis. Stages of breast cancer may be described generally as in situ or invasive. Stages may be described in detail and designated by a number .
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Research Into Breast Cancer
Early detection and better treatment have improved survival for people with breast cancer. Research for breast cancer is ongoing. The Cancer Research UK website has information about research into breast cancer.
Clinical trials can test the effectiveness of promising new treatments or new ways of combining cancer treatments. Always discuss treatment options with your doctor.
What Is Stage Ii Breast Cancer
Stage II describes cancer that is in a limited region of the breast but has grown larger. It reflects how many lymph nodes may contain cancer cells. This stage is divided into two subcategories.
Stage IIA is based on one of the following:
- Either there is no tumor in the breast or there is a breast tumor up to 20 millimeters , plus cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.
- A tumor of 20 to 50 millimeters is present in the breast, but cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage IIB is based on one of these criteria:
- A tumor of 20 to 50 millimeters is present in the breast, along with cancer that has spread to between one and three nearby lymph nodes.
- A tumor in the breast is larger than 50 millimeters, but cancer has not spread to any lymph nodes.
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Estrogen Exposure And Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding for over 1 year appears to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Extended exposure to estrogen appears to increase the risk of breast cancer.
This could be due to a person starting their periods earlier or entering menopause at a later than average age. Between these times, estrogen levels are higher.
Breastfeeding, especially for over 1 year, appears to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer. This is possibly due to the drop in estrogen exposure that follows pregnancy and breastfeeding.
What Tests Detect Her2
All patients with invasive breast cancer should have their tumor cells tested for HER2.
There are four tests for HER2. Discuss the interpretation of the tests with your health care team. Health care professionals may use either immunohistochemistry to identify the HER2 protein or in-situ hybridization testing to look for the gene.
IHC test: This tests shows if there is too much HER2 protein in the cancer cells and is graded 0 to 3.
FISH test: This test evaluates if there are too many copies of the HER2 gene in the cancer cells. This test is either positive or negative.
SPoT-Light HER2 CISH test: This test also evaluates if there are too many copies of the HER2 gene in the cancer cells and is reported as positive or negative.
Inform HER2 Dual ISH test: This test also evaluates if there are too many copies of the HER2 gene in the cancer cells and is reported as positive or negative.
Calculating Risk Based On Tumor Size
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center provides a Breast Cancer Nomogram through which you can predict the likelihood that a breast cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes based on tumor size .
To complete this estimate, you are asked to agree to the conditions, and understand that it is only an estimate.
How Can I Protect Myself From Breast Cancer
Follow these three steps for early detection:
- Get a mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends having a baseline mammogram at age 35, and a screening mammogram every year after age 40. Mammograms are an important part of your health history. Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force came out with new recommendations regarding when and how often one should have mammograms. These include starting at age 50 and having them every two years. We do not agree with this, but we are in agreement with the American Cancer Society and have not changed our guidelines, which recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40.
- Examine your breasts each month after age 20. You will become familiar with the contours and feel of your breasts and will be more alert to changes.
- Have your breast examined by a healthcare provider at least once every three years after age 20, and every year after age 40. Clinical breast exams can detect lumps that may not be detected by mammogram.
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How Quickly Breast Cancer Spreads
Since the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body is responsible for over 90 percent of deaths related to breast cancer, the question of how rapidly breast cancer spreads is very important.
Breast cancer usually spreads first to lymph nodes under the arm . Even with the involvement of lymph nodes, breast cancer is considered an early stage and is potentially curable with treatment.
When a cancer spreads to regions such as the bones, brain, lungs, or liver, however, it is considered stage IV, or metastatic breast cancer, and is no longer curable.
Most breast cancers have the potential to spread. Carcinoma in situ or stage 0 breast cancer has not yet spread beyond something known as the basement membrane. These tumors are considered non-invasive and are theoretically 100 percent curable with surgery.
All other stages of breast cancer are considered invasive and have the potential to spread. Spread to lymph nodes, even when early stage, is very important, as these tumors have essentially declared their intent to spread beyond the breasts.
Who Is A Candidate For Brca Gene Testing
This should be discussed with your health care provider or treatment team as this information is frequently updated. Guidelines for testing may include
- a personal history of breast cancer diagnosis at a young age, bilateral breast cancer, breast and ovarian cancer diagnosis, or a personal history of ovarian cancer
- family history of breast cancer at a young age or ovarian cancer and a personal history of breast cancer
- family member with bilateral breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both breast and ovarian cancer
- relative with a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and
- a male relative with breast cancer.
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Is It True That Breast Cancer Takes Years To Develop
Dr. Love answers the question: ‘Over How Many Years Does Breast Cancer Develop?’
— Question: Is it true that it takes years for breast cancer to develop?
Answer: We believe that most breast cancers take from 6-8 years to become big enough to be able to be seen on a mammogram or felt. So they’ve been there a long time by the time we’ve diagnosed them, and at some point fairly early on, they develop the ability to break out of the breast and get into the rest of the body.
So when somebody is newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the things we have to figure out is not just whether it’s cancer, but what is the statistical chance that there might be cells somewhere else because if there are, we want to not just treat the breast, but also the rest of the body, with drugs like chemotherapy.
What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Being a woman and getting older are the main risk factors for breast cancer.
Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older.
Some women will get breast cancer even without any other risk factors that they know of. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Most women have some risk factors, but most women do not get breast cancer. If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer.
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