Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Although a lump in the breast is a common symptom of breast cancer, not all breast cancers have obvious symptoms. For example, some lumps may be too small to be felt, but can be detected with a screening mammogram or other tests. There are also some benign conditions that can cause lumps in the breast, such as cysts and fibroadenomas .
Most breast changes are not caused by cancer. However, it is important to see your doctor if you notice any new lumps or other unusual breast changes as soon as possible. Early detection gives the best chance of survival if you are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Poor Appetite And Weight Loss
Sometimes people with secondary breast cancer cant eat as much as usual. This means they have difficulty maintaining their weight as well as providing the body with energy. Low energy levels can affect mobility and might make it harder to manage any symptoms such as breathlessness.
Poor appetite can be due to the effects of the cancer, treatment or anxiety. A small number of people may have difficulty swallowing.
You might find it easier to eat little and often instead of having set meals. If you still feel you arent eating enough, are losing weight or have no interest in food, talk to your doctor or specialist nurse about dietary supplements or ask to speak to a dietitian for specialist advice.
In some circumstances you may be prescribed medication to help stimulate your appetite.
N Categories For Breast Cancer
N followed by a number from 0 to 3 indicates whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the breast and, if so, how many lymph nodes are involved.
Lymph node staging for breast cancer is based on how the nodes look under the microscope, and has changed as technology has improved. Newer methods have made it possible to find smaller and smaller collections of cancer cells, but experts haven’t been sure how much these tiny deposits of cancer cells affect outlook.
Its not yet clear how much cancer in the lymph node is needed to see a change in outlook or treatment. This is still being studied, but for now, a deposit of cancer cells must contain at least 200 cells or be at least 0.2 mm across for it to change the N stage. An area of cancer spread that is smaller than 0.2 mm doesn’t change the stage, but is recorded with abbreviations that indicate the type of special test used to find the spread.
If the area of cancer spread is at least 0.2 mm , but still not larger than 2 mm, it is called a micrometastasis . Micrometastases are counted only if there aren’t any larger areas of cancer spread. Areas of cancer spread larger than 2 mm are known to affect outlook and do change the N stage. These larger areas are sometimes called macrometastases, but are more often just called metastases.
NX: Nearby lymph nodes cannot be assessed .
N0: Cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.
N1c: Both N1a and N1b apply.
N3: Any of the following:
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Symptoms Of Metastatic Cancer
Metastatic cancer does not always cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, what they are like and how often you have them will depend on the size and location of the metastatic tumors. Some common signs of metastatic cancer include:
- pain and fractures, when cancer has spread to the bone
- headache, seizures, or dizziness, when cancer has spread to the brain
- shortness of breath, when cancer has spread to the lung
- jaundice or swelling in the belly, when cancer has spread to the liver
What Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is cancer that starts in the breast tissues. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect women and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Men can also develop breast cancer, however, less than 1% of breast cancers are diagnosed in men.
Cancers are a unique group of diseases caused by genetic mutations, which make certain types of cells turn abnormal and grow out of control. Most types of cancers grow into masses of tissue known as tumors. Cancer spreads when tumor cells break off from the primary tumor, migrate to other parts of the body and start growing.
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How Is Electrochemotherapy Given
Many people need only a single treatment of electrochemotherapy, although it can be repeated in the same area or used to treat a different area.
Treatment is usually carried out as an outpatient or day case, though some people may need to stay in hospital overnight. This depends on how much treatment is needed and your general health.
It can be given under general anaesthetic or sometimes local anaesthetic, depending on the size of the area or how many areas need to be treated. You may be given pain relief beforehand.
The chemotherapy is usually given into a vein . It can also be given by injection directly into the area of cancer being treated .
Bleomycin is the chemotherapy drug most commonly used. Cisplatin, another chemotherapy drug, may also be used.
A short time after the chemotherapy drug is given, electrical impulses are given directly to the area using an electrode with the help of a specially designed needle probe. The electrode may be applied a number of times to make sure the whole area is treated. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes depending on the size of the area.
Afterwards, the area will often be covered with a dressing that may need changing regularly. The treated areas will usually scab over. Often the areas look worse before any improvement is seen.
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.
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How Does Spreading Happen
There are several ways cancer can spread in the body.
- Direct invasion happens when the tumor has spread to a nearby organ in the body. The cancer cells take root and begin to grow in this new area.
- Lymphangitic spread occurs when cancer travels through the lymphatic system. Breast cancer often involves the nearby lymph nodes, so the cancer can enter the lymph circulatory system and take hold in different parts of the body.
- Hematogenous spread moves in much the same way as lymphangitic spread but through the blood vessels. The cancer cells travel through the body and take root in remote areas and organs.
When cancer starts in the breast tissue, it may often spread to the lymph nodes before affecting other parts of the body. Breast cancer most commonly spreads to the:
The type of test you end up having will depend on your medical history and symptoms. For example, if you or your doctor suspects the cancer may have spread to your abdomen, you may have an ultrasound.
CT and MRI scans can help your doctor visualize various parts of the body all at once. A PET scan can be helpful if your doctor thinks the cancer may have spread but isnt sure where.
All of these tests are relatively noninvasive, and they shouldnt require a hospital stay. You may be given special instructions before your test.
If you have a CT scan, for instance, you may need to drink an oral contrast agent to help outline different features inside your body.
Newly Diagnosed Or Worried About A Symptom
In the days or weeks after a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer, you may feel distressed and find it hard to think clearly.
You can read our information for people newly diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, including where to find support.
If you havent been diagnosed but are worried about a symptom, find out more about the signs and symptoms of secondary breast cancer.
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Breast Cancer Progression Tends To Be Consistent And Predictable
There are many ways that breast cancer can develop but most of the time it starts in the breast ducts.
While cancer is still confined to the breast ducts, specialists refer to it as ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS. The good news is that if breast screening detects cancer at this in-situ stage, the chance of survival is close to 100%.
As cancer moves into the breast duct wall and finally begins to affect the surrounding breast tissue, specialists call it infiltrative or invasive breast cancer.
If treatment does not occur, breast cancer will usually spread to other areas of the body . Very often the first area that cancer usually spreads to is the lymph nodes in the underarm area .
Once cancer enters the lymphatic system, it can and usually does spread to other areas of the body. Sometimes this is called distant metastasis.
Not all breast cancers spread first to the axillary lymph nodes and then to the rest of the body. If the breast tumor occurs near the nipple, cancer may spread first to the internal mammary nodes beneath the sternum. And in some cases, the breast cancer can spread via the bloodstream without involving the lymphatic system.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
One in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and over 220,000 women are diagnosed each year.
In recent years, there has been a gradual reduction in breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 or older. Death rates from breast cancer have also been declining since about 1990, in part to better due to screening and early detection, and the development of better treatment options. There are over 2 million breast cancer survivors today.
Risk factors for developing breast cancer include:
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. It is rare in men, with approximately 2,150 cases diagnosed each year. The reason is probably that men have less of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can promote the growth of breast cancer cells.
Roughly one out of every eight invasive breast cancers are discovered in women younger than 45. In contrast, two out of three invasive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older.
Between 5 percent and 10 percent of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, meaning that they result directly from a defects or mutation in the genes. This defect is hereditary, meaning that it can be passed on by a parent.
A first-degree relative with breast cancer roughly doubles a woman’s risk. Two first-degree relatives with breast cancer increase a womans risk about three times.
Dense breast tissue
Benign breast conditions
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A Disease No One Gets
Sadly, people donât âgetâ mets. In fact, a recent survey sponsored by Pfizer Oncology shows just how misunderstood it is. Sixty percent of the 2,000 people surveyed knew little to nothing about MBC while 72 percent believed advanced breast cancer was curable as long as it was diagnosed early. Even more disheartening, a full 50 percent thought breast cancer progressed because patients either didnât take the right treatment or the right preventive measures.
âTheyâve built an industry built on four words â early detection equals cure â and that doesnât even begin to define breast cancer,â said Schoger, who helped found Breast Cancer Social Media, a virtual community for breast cancer patients, caregivers, surgeons, oncologists and others. âWomen are blamed for the fate of bad biology.â
The MBC Alliance, a consortium of 29 cancer organizations including the biggest names in breast cancer , addressed this lack of understanding and support as well as what many patient advocates term the underfunding of MBC research in a recently published landmark report.
Types Of Lymph Node Surgery
Even if the nearby lymph nodes are not enlarged, they will still need to be checked for cancer. This can be done in two different ways. Sentinel lymph node biopsy might be needed.
Lymph node surgery is often done as part of the main surgery to remove the breast cancer, but in some cases it might be done as a separate operation.
How Long Does It Take Breast Cancer To Grow
Every type of breast cancer varies based on individual factors and subtypes, says Dr. Roesch.
Different types of breast cancer tend to behave differently, and because every cancer is different and every person is too its hard to say exactly how quickly breast cancer can grow and spread. Still, experts understand that some types of breast cancer tend to be more aggressive and fast moving, while other types typically move slower.
Speed of breast cancer growth can be influenced by these factors:
Your cancer team will determine how likely or fast your breast cancer may spread based on your breast cancer subtype, stage and individual factors. Although breast cancer experts can hypothesis and estimate the speed of cancer growth, every breast cancer is different and distinctive to that person.
Breast Cancer Symptoms Prevention And Treatment
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among women in India. Breast cancer occurs in both sex but in male it accounts for less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer. It is treatable if diagnosed early. Localized cancer can generally be treated before it spreads outside the breast. But once cancer begins to spread, treatment becomes more complicated. Early detection, a better approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease has led to increased survival rates and decreased death rate.
Breast cancer usually begins either in your glands that make milk known as lobular carcinoma or the ducts that carry it to the nipple called ductal carcinoma. It can grow larger in your breast and spread to nearby lymph nodes or through your bloodstream to other organs.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a growth of a lump which is a painless, hard mass that has irregular edges. They can even be painful. It is always important to have breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by a specialist.
Other symptoms to watch out for are:
- Lump or thickening of the breast
- Change in size shape or appearance of the breast
- Changes to the skin, indrawing of nipple, or ulceration of the skin
- Redness or roughness of skin over the breast
- Nipple discharge that can be bloody or clear
These changes may be noticed while performing monthly breast self-exams. By performing breast self-exams, you will become familiar with the normal monthly changes in your breasts.
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Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer
When cancer comes back or is found in other parts of the body, it can be very upsetting for you, your family, and other loved ones. In this section, you can read about ways to live with metastatic breast cancer, manage feelings, get support, and talk to family and friends.
Symptoms Of Metastasis May Vary Depending On Where The Cancer Has Spread To
Here are some symptoms that vary by locations commonly associated with breast cancer metastasis.
Metastasis in the bone may cause:
- Severe, progressive pain
- Bones that are more easily fractured or broken
Metastasis to the brain may cause:
- Persistent, progressively worsening headache or pressure to the head
- Vision disturbances
- Behavioral changes or personality changes
Metastasis to the liver may cause:
- Abnormally high enzymes in the liver
- Abdominal pain, appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting
Metastasis to the lungs may cause:
- Chronic cough or inability to get a full breath
- Abnormal chest X-ray
- Chest pain
- Other nonspecific systemic symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can include fatigue, weight loss, and poor appetite, but its important to remember these can also be caused by medication or depression.
If you notice these symptoms, be sure you talk with your physician. They could be important for getting the treatment you need.
Interested in learning more? i3Health is hosting an upcoming webinar Metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Applying Treatment Advances to Personalized Care. Learn more here.
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T Categories For Breast Cancer
T followed by a number from 0 to 4 describes the main tumor’s size and if it has spread to the skin or to the chest wall under the breast. Higher T numbers mean a larger tumor and/or wider spread to tissues near the breast.
TX: Primary tumor cannot be assessed.
T0: No evidence of primary tumor.
Tis: Carcinoma in situ
T1 : Tumor is 2 cm or less across.
T2: Tumor is more than 2 cm but not more than 5 cm across.
T3: Tumor is more than 5 cm across.
T4 : Tumor of any size growing into the chest wall or skin. This includes inflammatory breast cancer.