If You Experience Pain Along With Any Of The Following Symptoms You Should Contact Your Physician
- Bloody or clear discharge from your nipple
- A new lump with the onset of the pain lump does not go away after your menstrual period
- Persistent, unexplained breast pain
- Signs of a breast infection, including local redness, pus, or fever
- Redness of the skin of the breast that may appear as a rash, with dilated pores, and possibly skin thickening.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms And Diagnosis
The symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can vary greatly depending on the location of the cancer. This section covers the symptoms of breast cancer that has spread to the bone, lung, brain, and liver, and the tests used to diagnose metastatic breast cancer.
Bone Metastasis: Symptoms and DiagnosisThe most common symptom of breast cancer that has spread to the bone is a sudden, noticeable new pain. Breast cancer can spread to any bone, but most often spreads to the ribs, spine, pelvis, or the long bones in the arms and legs. Learn more.
Lung Metastasis: Symptoms and DiagnosisWhen breast cancer moves into the lung, it often doesnt cause symptoms. If a lung metastasis does cause symptoms, they may include pain or discomfort in the lung, shortness of breath, persistent cough, and others. Learn more.
Brain Metastasis: Symptoms and DiagnosisSymptoms of breast cancer that has spread to the brain can include headache, changes in speech or vision, memory problems, and others. Learn more.
Liver Metastasis: Symptoms and DiagnosisWhen breast cancer spreads to the liver, it often doesnt cause symptoms. If a liver metastasis does cause symptoms, they can include pain or discomfort in the mid-section, fatigue and weakness, weight loss or poor appetite, fever, and others. Learn more.
Where Is The First Place Breast Cancer Spreads
The first place that breast cancer commonly spreads to outside the breast are the lymph nodes in the armpit . Surgery is usually needed to remove one or more lymph nodes to help check for breast cancer spread. This operation to remove lymph nodes in the armpit is known as axillary surgery.
Breast cancer found in the lymph nodes will impact the breast cancers staging, and the treatment plan will often be affected as well.
If cancer is found in the lymph nodes, there is a higher chance that cells have travelled through the lymphatic system and bloodstream to spread to other parts of the body. In this instance, treatment with systemic therapies, such as chemotherapy, is likely to be recommended.
If cancer is found in a large number of axillary nodes, radiotherapy may also be recommended to kill any breast cancer cells that remain in the armpit but cannot be removed by surgery.
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Local Or Regional Treatments For Stage Iv Breast Cancer
Although systemic drugs are the main treatment for stage IV breast cancer, local and regional treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, or regional chemotherapy are sometimes used as well. These can help treat breast cancer in a specific part of the body, but they are very unlikely to get rid of all of the cancer. These treatments are more likely to be used to help prevent or treat symptoms or complications from the cancer.
Radiation therapy and/or surgery may also be used in certain situations, such as:
- When the breast tumor is causing an open wound in the breast
- To treat a small number of metastases in a certain area, such as the brain
- To help prevent bone fractures
- When an area of cancer spread is pressing on the spinal cord
- To treat a blood vessel blockage in the liver
- To provide relief of pain or other symptoms
In some cases, regional chemo may be useful as well.
If your doctor recommends such local or regional treatments, it is important that you understand their goalwhether it is to try to cure the cancer or to prevent or treat symptoms.
How Breast Cancer Spreads
Breast cancer can spread when the cancer cells get into the blood or lymph system and are carried to other parts of the body.
The lymph system is a network of lymph vessels found throughout the body that connects lymph nodes . The clear fluid inside the lymph vessels, called lymph, contains tissue by-products and waste material, as well as immune system cells. The lymph vessels carry lymph fluid away from the breast. In the case of breast cancer, cancer cells can enter those lymph vessels and start to grow in lymph nodes. Most of the lymph vessels of the breast drain into:
- Lymph nodes under the arm
- Lymph nodes around the collar bone
- Lymph nodes inside the chest near the breast bone
If cancer cells have spread to your lymph nodes, there is a higher chance that the cells could have traveled through the lymph system and spread to other parts of your body. The more lymph nodes with breast cancer cells, the more likely it is that the cancer may be found in other organs. Because of this, finding cancer in one or more lymph nodes often affects your treatment plan. Usually, you will need surgery to remove one or more lymph nodes to know whether the cancer has spread.
Still, not all women with cancer cells in their lymph nodes develop metastases, and some women with no cancer cells in their lymph nodes develop metastases later.
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Breast Examination After Treatment For Breast Cancer
The incision line may be thick, raised, red and possibly tender for several months after surgery. Remember to examine the entire incision line.
If there is redness in areas away from the scar, contact your physician. It is not unusual to experience brief discomforts and sensations in the breast or nipple area .
At first, you may not know how to interpret what you feel, but soon you will become familiar with what is now normal for you.
After breast reconstruction
Following breast reconstruction, breast examination for the reconstructed breast is done exactly the same way as for the natural breast. If an implant was used for the reconstruction, press firmly inward at the edges of the implant to feel the ribs beneath. If your own tissue was used for the reconstruction, understand that you may feel some numbness and tightness in your breast. In time, some feeling in your breasts may return.
After radiation therapy
After radiation therapy, you may notice some changes in the breast tissue. The breast may look red or sunburned and may become irritated or inflamed. Once therapy is stopped, the redness will disappear and the breast will become less inflamed or irritated. At times, the skin can become more inflamed for a few days after treatment and then gradually improve after a few weeks. The pores in the skin over the breast also may become larger than usual.
What to do
Most Breast Pain Is Benign
Breast pain, or mastalgia, is uncommon with breast cancer. Most of the time, breast pain happens along with your menstrual cycle, but it can also be linked to benign non-hormonal causes. Other benign conditions which can cause breast pain include breast cysts, fibroadenomas or blocked milk ducts, but even though the pain with these conditions can be very annoying, it is not usually dangerous.
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Effects On Pituitary System
commonly develops after radiation therapy for sellar and parasellar neoplasms, extrasellar brain tumours, head and neck tumours, and following whole body irradiation for systemic malignancies. Radiation-induced hypopituitarism mainly affects and . In contrast, and deficiencies are the least common among people with radiation-induced hypopituitarism. Changes in -secretion is usually mild, and vasopressin deficiency appears to be very rare as a consequence of radiation.
What Are The Stages Of Breast Cancer
There are two different staging systems for breast cancer. One is called anatomic staging while the other is prognostic staging. The anatomic staging is defined by the areas of the body where the breast cancer is found and helps to define appropriate treatment. The prognostic staging helps medical professionals communicate how likely a patient is to be cured of the cancer assuming that all appropriate treatment is given.
The anatomic staging system is as follows:
Stage 0 breast disease is when the disease is localized to the milk ducts .
Stage I breast cancer is smaller than 2 cm across and hasn’t spread anywhere including no involvement in the lymph nodes.
Stage II breast cancer is one of the following:
- The tumor is less than 2 cm across but has spread to the underarm lymph nodes .
- The tumor is between 2 and 5 cm .
- The tumor is larger than 5 cm and has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm .
Stage III breast cancer is also called “locally advanced breast cancer.” The tumor is any size with cancerous lymph nodes that adhere to one another or to surrounding tissue . Stage IIIB breast cancer is a tumor of any size that has spread to the skin, chest wall, or internal mammary lymph nodes .
Stage IV breast cancer is defined as a tumor, regardless of size, that has spread to areas away from the breast, such as bones, lungs, liver or brain.
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Sheryl Crow Breast Cancer
Tumors can be malign and benign, but neither is nice. American country singer Sheryl Crow has had both. In her 40s, Crow had surgery a lumpectomy for ductal carcinoma in situ, a cancer in her left breast, and a needle biopsy on the right. She says it forced her to re-evaluate her life and slow down. In her 50s, she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, but said she didn’t want it removed.
Celebrities and the ‘Big C’
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
There are several risk factors that increase your chances of getting breast cancer. However, having any of these doesnt mean you will definitely develop the disease.
Some risk factors cant be avoided, such as family history. You can change other risk factors, such as quitting smoking, if you smoke. Risk factors for breast cancer include:
While there are risk factors you cant control, following a healthy lifestyle, getting regular screenings, and taking any preventive measures your doctor recommends can help reduce your risk for developing breast cancer.
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How Quickly Does A Breast Cancer Tumor Grow
On average, the doubling time for a breast cancer tumor, or time for a tumor to double in size, is approximately 50 to 200 days. The growth rate of a breast tumor varies based on the type of breast cancer, tumor characteristics, the age of the patient at diagnosis, and menopausal status. Inflammatory breast cancer tumors and triple negative breast cancer tumors tend to grow faster than estrogen receptor positive and HER2 negative tumors.
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.
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If The Cancer Has Spread To The Brain
This may cause symptoms such as a headache that doesn’t go away, feeling sick or being sick. These symptoms are caused by increased pressure in the brain and may be worse first thing in the morning.
Depending on the part of the brain that is affected, some women may have other symptoms. This can include feelings of weakness, pins and needles or numbness in an arm or a leg, or sometimes a seizure .
It is natural to feel frightened at the thought of having a secondary cancer in the brain. However, drugs called steroids and radiotherapy are used to treat the cancer. This will get rid of the headaches and improve other symptoms.
*Information provided by Macmillan cancer support
Koyo Bala Colorectal Cancer
South Africa’s Koyo Bala was an openly-gay, HIV-positive actor, activist and singer. Bala rose to fame with the pop group 3Sum in the early 2000s. He had already survived tuberculosis and anal cancer before doctors diagnosed a new bowel and rectum cancer. It spread to his bladder and eventual led to his death in 2016. Often stamped a “socialite,” Bala is seen as an inspirational icon.
Celebrities and the ‘Big C’
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Treatment For Locally Advanced Breast Cancer
Treatment for locally advance breast cancer is likely to include a treatment that affects the whole body .
This might be chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapy.
If you have previously had chemotherapy, you may be offered different chemotherapy drugs this time.
If you were already taking hormone therapy when your cancer returned, your doctor may consider switching you to a different drug.
Targeted therapies are a group of drugs that block the growth and spread of cancer.
The most widely used targeted therapies are for HER2 positive breast cancer. However, other targeted therapies are available to treat locally advanced breast cancer that is HER2 negative.
Radiotherapy and surgery
You may be offered radiotherapy if cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes above or below the collarbone, under the breastbone or between the ribs. Its not usually possible to remove the cancer using surgery in this situation.
If the recurrence has affected the muscles on the chest wall, surgery may be offered as well as radiotherapy.
How Is Breast Cancer Treated
If the tests find cancer, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to eradicate the breast cancer, to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the breast, as well as to reduce the chance of the cancer traveling to a location outside of the breast. Treatment generally follows within a few weeks after the diagnosis.
The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of lab tests done on the cancer cells, and the stage, or extent, of the disease. Your doctor will usually consider your age and general health as well as your feelings about the treatment options.
Breast cancer treatments are local or systemic. Local treatments are used to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area, such as the breast. Surgery and radiation treatment are local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systemic treatments. A patient may have just one form of treatment or a combination, depending on her individual diagnosis.
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The Differences Between A Breast Cyst And A Tumor
If you have a breast lump, its important that you have a doctor make the diagnosis as soon as possible. While there are some telltale differences between a cyst and a tumor, these differences can be subtle. Plus, there are always exceptions to these norms.
A physical exam can give your doctor a general idea of whether youre dealing with a cyst or a tumor.
The next step is usually an ultrasound test.
If soundwaves pass right through the lump, that means its filled with liquid and is a simple cyst. If the soundwaves echo back, it means theres at least some solid matter and more testing will be needed to reach a diagnosis.
If the ultrasound shows a complex or complicated cyst, the next steps may include:
- a mammogram or MRI to get a better view of the entire breast
- aspiration or draining the cyst with a fine needle to see if the fluid contains any blood or unusual cells.
- a biopsy to determine if the solid areas are cancerous or benign
In an estimated 1.6 million breast biopsies a year in the United States, 75 percent are benign.
A simple cyst is no cause for concern and doesnt necessarily need to be treated. Your doctor may suggest a wait and see approach because cysts sometimes go away on their own.
For cysts that continue to cause discomfort, your doctor can drain the cyst or surgically remove it.
According to the American Cancer Society, simple cysts dont increase your risk of developing breast cancer, though theres a small chance that complex cysts may.
When To See Your Doctor
It’s important to talk to your physician if you have breast pain from any cause. Even if it’s not due to cancer, many women find that breast pain decreases their quality of life. In one study,15% of the women experienced breast pain at some time in their life that interfered with work and family activities. So, make sure to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any suspicious discomfort.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Symptoms of breast cancer can include:
- a lump or area of thickened tissue in the breast
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- a change in the shape or appearance of the nipple, such as crusting, sores, redness or inversion
- changes to the skin of the breasts, such as dimpling , rash, or redness
- discomfort or swelling in either armpit
Symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those that women experience.
If you have any unusual symptoms, such as the above, you should see your doctor to get them checked.
Treatment For Local Recurrence
Treatment for local recurrence will depend on a number of factors, including what treatments you have previously had.
If you had breast-conserving surgery then you will usually be offered a mastectomy. For some people it may be possible to repeat the wide local excision.
If you previously had a mastectomy, surgery may be possible to remove the affected areas.
Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.
Radiotherapy is usually only an option if you havent previously had radiotherapy in the same area.
The way radiotherapy is given for a recurrence is similar to how its given to someone newly diagnosed.
Radiotherapy may be offered if surgery isnt possible.
Which treatment you are offered depends on whether you have gone through the menopause and any hormone therapy you have previously had or are currently taking.
Its not clear how much benefit chemotherapy will be to you if you have a local recurrence, but it might be offered in some cases.
If you have previously had chemotherapy then different chemotherapy drugs may be used.
The most widely used targeted therapies are for HER2 positive breast cancer.
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