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Where Is Breast Cancer Located

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

Mercy Health mobile mammography van providing breast cancer screening throughout Toledo area

Ductal carcinoma in situ is considered non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer. In DCIS , cells that lined the ducts have changed to look like cancer cells. The difference between DCIS and invasive cancer is that the cells have not spread through the walls of the ducts into the surrounding tissue of the breast . DCIS is considered a pre-cancer because some cases can go on to become invasive cancers. Right now, though, there is no good way to know for certain which cases will go on to become invasive cancers and which ones wont. DCIS accounts for about 1 in 10 cases of breast cancer in men. It is almost always curable with surgery.

Cosmetic Implants And Breast Cancer Survival

A 2013 review found that women with cosmetic breast implants who received a diagnosis of breast cancer also had a higher risk of dying from the disease.

This could be due to the implants masking cancer during screening or because the implants bring about changes in breast tissue.

However, a published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that having cosmetic breast implant surgery did not increase the risk of breast cancer.

Scientists need to carry out more research to confirm the link.

There are several different types of breast cancer, including:

  • Ductal carcinoma: This begins in the milk duct and is the most common type.
  • Lobular carcinoma: This starts in the lobules.

Invasive breast cancer occurs when the cancer cells break out from inside the lobules or ducts and invade nearby tissue. This increases the chance of cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

Noninvasive breast cancer develops when the cancer remains inside its place of origin and has not yet spread. However, these cells can sometimes progress to invasive breast cancer.

A doctor often diagnoses breast cancer as the result of routine screening or when a woman approaches her doctor after detecting symptoms.

Several diagnostic tests and procedures help to confirm a diagnosis.

What Are Some Common Types Of Benign Breast Lumps

There are many possible causes of non-cancerous breast lumps. Two of the most common causes of benign single breast lumps are cysts and fibroadenomas. In addition, several other conditions can present themselves as lumps, such as fat necrosis and sclerosing adenosis. Only your healthcare provider can diagnose your breast lump.

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How Do Tamoxifen Raloxifene Anastrozole And Exemestane Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer

If you are at increased risk for developing breast cancer, four medications tamoxifen , raloxifene , anastrozole , and exemestane may help reduce your risk of developing this disease. These medications act only to reduce the risk of a specific type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. This type of breast cancer accounts for about two-thirds of all breast cancers.

Tamoxifen and raloxifene are in a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators . These drugs work by blocking the effects of estrogen in breast tissue by attaching to estrogen receptors in breast cells. Because SERMs bind to receptors, estrogen is blocked from binding. Estrogen is the fuel that makes most breast cancer cells grow. Blocking estrogen prevents estrogen from triggering the development of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.

Anastrozole and exemestane are in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors . These drugs work by blocking the production of estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors do this by blocking the activity of an enzyme called aromatase, which is needed to make estrogen.

Where Breast Cancer Starts

Location of Right Metastatic Breast Cancer &  Enlarged ...

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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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.

What Is Sclerosing Adenosis

Sclerosing adenosis is excess growth of tissues in the breast’s lobules. This often causes breast pain. While these changes in the breast tissue are very small, they may show up on mammograms as calcifications and can make lumps. Usually a biopsy is needed to rule out cancer. In addition, because the condition can be mistaken for cancer, the lumps are usually removed through surgical biopsy.

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Breast Examination After Treatment For Breast Cancer

After surgery

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

What Are Lymph Nodes

Detecting your risk for breast cancer

Lymph nodes are small, rounded structures of about 1 mm to 25 mm that are found throughout the body.

The lymph nodes form part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system that protects the body from disease and infection. It contains a network of thin tubes called lymph vessels that are found throughout the body. These lymph vessels transport a clear fluid called lymph between the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes filter the lymph to trap or remove substances harmful to the body, such as bacteria or cancer cells. This helps to protect the body from disease or infection. The lymph then passes back to the blood.

The closest lymph nodes to the breast are those in the armpit, which are known as axillary nodes. The axillary nodes drain lymph from nearby tissues, including the breast. There are also lymph nodes under the breastbone and in the neck . The number of lymph nodes varies between different people. There are usually about 15-30 lymph nodes in the armpit.

Because the lymph vessels carry lymph away from the breast, in the case of breast cancer, cancer cells can enter the lymph vessels and begin to grow in the lymph nodes. The axillary nodes are often the first place of cancer spread outside the breast. Usually, surgery is used to remove one or more of the axillary nodes to help check for cancer spread. Cancer found in the lymph nodes affects the staging and treatment of breast cancer.

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Paget Disease Of The Nipple

This type of breast cancer starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the nipple. It may also spread to the areola . The skin of the nipple usually appears crusted, scaly, and red, with areas of itching, oozing, burning, or bleeding. There may also be an underlying lump in the breast.

Paget disease may be associated with DCIS or with infiltrating ductal carcinoma. It is rare and accounts for about 1-3% of female breast cancers and a higher percentage of male breast cancers.

What Is Breast Cancer In Men

Breast cancer occurs mainly in women, but men can get it, too. Many people do not realize that men have breast tissue and that they can develop breast cancer. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer and can spread to other areas.

Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant if the cells can grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body.

To learn more about how cancers start and spread, see Cancer Basics.

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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.

Invasive Breast Cancer Symptoms

Lymph node location for breast cancer. An anterolateral ...

Most breast cancers start in the ducts, or the tubes that carry milk to the nipple, or in the lobules, the little clusters of sacs where breast milk is made. Invasive breast cancer refers to breast cancer that spreads from the original site to other areas of the breast, the lymph nodes or elsewhere in the body. In these cancers that form in the ducts or lobules, invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma , the cancer spreads from the ducts or lobules to other tissue. Depending on the stage, you may notice symptoms.

Invasive breast cancer symptoms may include:

  • A lump or mass in the breast
  • Swelling of all or part of the breast, even if no lump is felt
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • A lump or swelling in the underarm lymph nodes

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How Is A Male Breast Cancer Diagnosis Made

If a doctor has reason to suspect cancer, the following tests and procedures may be used to arrive at a diagnosis:

  • Clinical breast exam. Usually a first step, this is performed in the office. The doctor feels the breast and underarm area for palpable lumps and examines the skin and nipple for any breast changes.
  • Imaging tests. Next, the doctor may order such tests as a mammogram with a breast ultrasound and, occasionally, a magnetic resonance imaging of the breasts. A radiologist will examine these imaging tests to look for malignant tumors.
  • Breast biopsy. A breast biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed and sent to a pathology lab, where it is evaluated to determine if it is malignant or benign. The four main kinds of breast biopsies are the core needle biopsy, excisional biopsy, fine need aspiration, and punch skin biopsy.
  • Hormone-sensitivity tests. If cancer is found, an estrogen and progesterone receptor test is performed to determine whether the tumor contains receptors for estrogen and progesterone. If it does, the patient can also be treated with medications that suppress estrogen and progesterone in the body, depriving cancer cells of those hormones. This is done in addition to surgical therapy.

  • HER2 test. This test measures the amount of the growth-factor protein known as HER2, found in the breast tissue. This information helps a medical oncologist choose the right therapy for treatment.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms

Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on the part of the body to which the cancer has spread and its stage. Sometimes, metastatic disease may not cause any symptoms.

  • If the breast or chest wall is affected, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
  • If the bones are affected, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.
  • If tumors form in the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest wall pain or extreme fatigue.
  • If the liver is affected, symptoms may include nausea, extreme fatigue, increased abdominal girth, swelling of the feet and hands due to fluid collection and yellowing or itchy skin.
  • If breast cancer spreads to the brain or spinal cord and forms tumors, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, difficulty with movement or seizures.

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Benign Breast Lumps And Future Cancer Risk

  • Women who had a history of benign breast disease are more likely to develop breast cancer than those who have never had any breast disease. According to a 2019 study in the International Journal of Cancer, benign breast disease increases the risk of developing breast cancer in the future, in addition to the risk that a woman may already have due to family history, personal breast cancer history, or a genetic mutation.

What Should I Do If I Find A Lump While Breastfeeding

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Breast cancer in women of childbearing age is not common, and lumps found while breastfeeding are likely to be benign. Breast changes while nursing are normal and may include a clogged milk duct or mastitis. However, it is important to report any new lump to your doctor to make sure it is benign and get treatment to help alleviate any discomfort.

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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.

What Are Metastatic And Recurrent Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in one or both breasts.

  • Metastatic breast cancer means that cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Recurrent breast cancer means that cancer has come back in or near the original site or in another part of the body.

For most women who have had breast cancer, their greatest fear is that the cancer will come back or spread. Finding out that this has happened can turn your world upside down. But there is hope. Some recurrent breast cancers can be successfully treated. Other recurrent breast cancers and metastatic breast cancer usually can’t be cured. But with treatment, some women live for many years.

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