What To Do If You Find A Lump In Your Left Breast
The majority of breast lumps are not cancerous.
If someone finds a lump in their left breast, they should remain calm. The first step is to work out the characteristics of the lump and look for any other breast changes.
Breast tissue is naturally lumpy, and its textures change with hormones and aging processes. Compare the size, appearance, and texture of both breasts. Evenly dispersed lumps in both breasts usually indicate normal, healthy breast tissue.
Lumps that differ from the surrounding breast tissue may suggest a tumor, which could be cancerous or noncancerous, or another breast condition.
The signs of breast cancer are different for different women. The most common signs are changes in the look or feel of the breast or nipple and nipple discharge.
Look out for the following warning signs of breast cancer:
- a lump that has a different appearance or texture compared with the rest of the breast
- a lump that is hard or painful
- dimpling or puckering of the skin
- a change in the size or shape of the breast
- swelling, warmth, redness, or dark patches on the breast
The sections below discuss several types of breast lump and how to identify them.
The majority of breast lumps are not cancerous. A person may develop one of the following benign breast lumps:
What Is The Prognosis For Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Based on individual markers and prognostic factors, including the staging of your tumor, your physician will work to give you a prognosis. At Johns Hopkins Medicine, our team of breast cancer specialists is dedicated to developing cutting-edge techniques for surgery, breast reconstruction, chemotherapy, biologic targeted therapy, radiation therapy and other hormonal therapies. Our research allows us to make great strides forward for patients with breast cancer.
The Link Between Breast Cancer And Heart Disease
Breast cancer treatments may increase the risk of heart disease. So wrote the;American Heart Association;in a scientific statement earlier this year.;
For the 3 million U.S. women who are survivors of breast cancer not to mention the 266,000 women expected to be diagnosed this year understanding the links between breast cancer and heart disease is critical. After all, heart disease causes more women’s deaths each year than anything else, and 90 percent of women already have at least one risk factor for heart disease.;
We asked oncologists at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute about the connection between;breast cancer;treatment and heart disease, and how they take this into account in treating their patients.;Zahi Mitri, M.D., M.S., focuses on breast cancer treatments like chemotherapy, and;Sophia Bornstein, M.D., Ph.D., is a radiation oncologist.;
Chemotherapy and Heart Disease;
There are many types of chemotherapy, but one very common and effective type is the anthracycline doxorubicin. Part of how it works is by binding to cancer cells’ DNA to stop them from replicating. This is great for treating breast cancer, but anthracyclines can cause irreversible damage to the heart. ;
“It’s extremely rare. It’s just a one or two percent risk, but it’s devastating if it happens,” says Dr. Mitri. “We talk to our patients about this risk, and some patients choose chemotherapy options that are potentially less effective but don’t have anthracyclines.”;
Radiation and Heart Disease;
Also Check: Does Pain In Your Breast Mean Cancer
Does Breast Cancer Affect Women Of All Races Equally
All women, especially as they age, are at some risk for developing breast cancer. The risks for breast cancer in general arent evenly spread among ethnic groups, and the risk varies among ethnic groups for different types of breast cancer. Breast cancer mortality rates in the United States have declined by 40% since 1989, but disparities persist and are widening between non-Hispanic Black women and non-Hispanic white women.
Statistics show that, overall, non-Hispanic white women have a slightly higher chance of developing breast cancer than women of any other race/ethnicity. The incidence rate for non-Hispanic Black women is almost as high.
Non-Hispanic Black women in the U.S. have a 39% higher risk of dying from breast cancer at any age. They are twice as likely to get triple-negative breast cancer as white women. This type of cancer is especially aggressive and difficult to treat. However, it’s really among women with hormone positive disease where Black women have worse clinical outcomes despite comparable systemic therapy. Non-Hispanic Black women are less likely to receive standard treatments. Additionally, there is increasing data on discontinuation of adjuvant hormonal therapy by those who are poor and underinsured.
In women under the age of 45, breast cancer is found more often in non-Hispanic Black women than in non-Hispanic white women.
Diagnosis Of Benign Breast Conditions
The tests and procedures used to diagnose a benign breast condition are often the same as those used to diagnose breast cancer. The goals of diagnosis are to:
- make sure that the growth or other change detected is really benign
- determine whether the condition is associated with any increase in cancer risk
Procedures could include:
Your testing plan will depend on your symptoms and what type of benign breast condition is suspected. Your doctor might not be able to tell you much until the test results come back. Waiting is hard, but remember that benign conditions are more common than breast cancer.
In most cases, todays imaging techniques are advanced enough to tell the difference between a benign breast condition and cancer, notes Alan Stolier, M.D., a surgical breast oncologist with St. Charles Surgical Hospital and the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans. If anything about the imaging is suspicious, we will go a step further with biopsy, he says. If we dont recommend anything else be done, we have a high level of confidence it is benign.
Myth: If You Maintain A Healthy Weight Exercise Regularly Eat Healthy And Limit Alcohol You Dont Have To Worry About Breast Cancerfact: Although These Behaviors Can Help Lower Breast Cancer Risk They Cant Eliminate It
Its something we hear again and again from newly diagnosed women: I eat healthy, Im at a healthy weight, Im active, and I barely drink. So how did I end up with breast cancer? Yes, there is evidence that all of these behaviors can help lower your risk. However, they cant guarantee youll never get the disease. There are so many examples of people who do everything right and still get breast cancer.
Its certainly worth managing the risk factors you can control, such as what you eat and drink and how physically active you are. But its still important to get regular screenings, perform breast self-exams, and pay attention to any unusual changes in your breasts. And if you have any health-nut friends or relatives who think theres no way theyd ever get breast cancer, help them understand that no one is 100% safe.
Community member Beesie says: I think the heavy focus on lifestyle and environmental factors can be misleading since most breast cancers are caused by factors outside of our control.
Theres a myth that its your fault, adds Community member Illimae. It is not your fault, there is risk with everything in life, dont beat yourself up.
Myth: Wearing A Bra Can Cause Breast Cancerfact: There Is No Evidence That Bras Cause Breast Cancer
From time to time, media coverage and the internet have fueled myths that wearing a bra can increase breast cancer risk.
The theory was that wearing a bra especially an underwire style could restrict the flow of lymph fluid out of the breast, causing toxic substances to build up in the tissue.
However, there is no evidence to support this claim. A 2014 study of roughly 1,500 women with breast cancer found no link between bra-wearing and breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Survival Rate
Breast cancer survival rates vary widely based on many factors.
Two of the most important factors are the type of cancer you have and the stage of the cancer at the time you receive a diagnosis. Other factors that may play a role include your age, gender, and race.
shows theres a higher mortality rate in non-white people diagnosed with breast cancer compared with white people. One reason for this may be healthcare disparities.
The good news is breast cancer survival rates are improving.
According to the ACS , in 1975, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer in women was 75.2 percent. But for women diagnosed between 2008 and 2014, it was 90.6 percent.
Five-year survival rates for breast cancer differ depending on stage at diagnosis, ranging from 99 percent for localized, early stage cancers to 27 percent for advanced, metastatic cancers.
Fact 8: There Is Worldwide Evidence For A Link Between Induced Abortion And Breast Cancer
Even the Susan G. Komen Foundation does now recognize that birth control pill use is a risk factor for breast cancer. Regardless, Komen and the ACS still deny that abortion is also a risk factor for breast cancer . In their meta-analysis of the ABC issue, Brind et al. noted, Experimental evidence of a causal association between induced abortion and breast cancer in rodents was presented by Russo and Russo in 1980 .
Additionally, there has been a recent and remarkable increase in the evidence for an ABC link, especially from non-Western countries.
- ; Bangladesh A recent casecontrol report from the Dhaka Medical College employed a multivariate analysis. Women in Bangladesh are reported to have very traditional reproductive patterns, as Professor Joel Brind of Baruch College, City University of New York, explained, Almost all the women are married and with child by the time they are 20, and all of the kids are breastfed. Ninety percent had their first child at age 21 or younger . They typically neither take contraceptive steroids nor have any abortions. Nulliparty or abortion before first full-term pregnancy in a population in which breast cancer is almost unheard of, makes the relative risk very high .
China A more recent study from Northeast China found a family history of breast cancer and induced abortion increased the risk of breast cancer. Additionally, breastfeeding protected parous women from any subtype of breast cancer .
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
Ductal carcinoma in situ is a non-invasive breast cancer. In situ means in place. With DCIS, the abnormal cells are contained in the milk ducts of the breast and have not spread to nearby breast tissue.
Although DCIS is non-invasive, without treatment, the abnormal cells could progress to invasive breast cancer over time. So, you may also hear the terms pre-invasive or pre-cancerous to describe DCIS.
Learn about breast anatomy.
Myth: If I Dont Have A Family History Of Breast Cancer I Wont Get Itfact: Most People Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Have No Known Family History
Many people think of breast cancer as an inherited disease. But only about 510% of breast cancers are believed to be hereditary, meaning theyre caused by abnormal changes in certain genes passed from parent to child.1 The vast majority of people who get breast cancer have no family history, suggesting that other factors must be at work, such as environment and lifestyle.
But doctors often cant explain why one person gets breast cancer and another doesnt. The biggest risk factors are simply being a woman and growing older. Over time, healthy breast cells can develop mutations on their own, eventually turning into cancer cells.
Still, if you have a strong family history of breast cancer on either your mothers or your fathers side, this is an important risk factor that should be taken seriously. If there are one or more cases of breast cancer in close blood relatives, especially before age 50, and/or other cancers such as ovarian and prostate cancer in your family, share this information with your doctor.
Fact 9: There Is A Substantial Causality Case For An Induced Abortionbreast Cancer Link
As discussed in Fact 8, multiple research groups from around the world have found an association between IA and breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute has identified 70 published scientific reports on this topic, dating back to the 1957 Japanese study . All total, 58 of these 74 international studies show a significant association between abortion and breast cancer, including 12 of the last 13 reports since 2008 .
As early as 1996, a review and meta-analysis by Brind et al. showed a 30 percent increase in breast cancer risk after the first pregnancy, but a 1.5-fold, or 50 percent increased risk before the first pregnancy. Both findings were statistically significant .
Recently, Oxford University researcher, Patrick Carroll, conducted another important epidemiological investigation on the Western epidemic of breast cancer. This multiple linear regression analysis, and multi-national 2007 study, examined a myriad of suspected variables. The conclusion was that abortion is so powerfully linked to breast cancer risk, that it is the single best predictor of the occurrence of breast cancer in all eight European countries studied. Carroll found that future breast cancer rates could be predicted with near 100 percent accuracy by using a nation’s abortion rates, and its fertility rates .
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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Signs And Symptoms Of Benign Breast Conditions
There are many different types of benign breast conditions but they all cause unusual changes in breast tissue. Sometimes they affect the glandular tissue . Or they can involve the supportive tissue of the breast, also called stromal tissue.
A benign breast condition can lead to a distinct growth or lump that sometimes can be felt through the skin. Or it can be something unusual picked up on a screening mammogram.
If you have symptoms, theyre often similar to those associated with breast cancer, such as:
- pain, swelling, and/or tenderness in the breast
- a lump that can be felt through the skin or nipple
- skin irritation
- redness or scaling on the nipple and/or skin of the breast
- nipple pain or retraction
- discharge from the breast that is not milk
All of these symptoms require further testing to rule out breast cancer as a possible cause.
Facts You May Not Know About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer was the first cancer ever recorded;;
A manuscript from 3000BC described a bulging mass in the breast which was concluded as a grave disease with no available treatment. The notes, thought to be made by the Egyptian Imhotep, were transcribed onto a papyrus scroll bought by Edwin Smith in 18621. This is the earliest record of cancer that has been discovered and highlights the progress of breast cancer treatment in terms of screenings, diagnosis, and treatments.
Tamoxifen was originally created as a contraceptive pill
Now a common hormonal treatment, tamoxifen was created for a completely different purpose. Scientists in the 1960s synthesised the drug hoping it would block oestrogen and act as an effective contraceptive. However, during testing, they found that tamoxifen stimulated, rather than suppressed, ovulation in women2.
This was originally seen as a failure and the development of tamoxifen was almost abandoned.; However, the team leader, Arthur Walpole, refused to stop there. He threatened his resignation if the project ceased. They decided to develop tamoxifen as a treatment for breast cancer, which has led to it now being the worlds best-selling hormone therapy for breast cancer.;
Chemotherapy was a product of the First World War
Breast cancer is more likely to develop in the left breast than the right ;
Mastectomies date back to the 1800s
Risk Factors You Can Change
- Not being physically active. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Being overweight or obese after menopause. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
- Taking hormones. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy taken during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
- Reproductive history. Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.
- Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a womans risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
Research suggests that other factors such as smoking, being exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer, and changes in other hormones due to night shift working also may increase breast cancer risk.
Types Of Breast Cancer
There are several types of breast cancer, and theyre broken into two main categories: invasive and noninvasive, or in situ.
While invasive cancer has spread from the breast ducts or glands to other parts of the breast, noninvasive cancer has not spread from the original tissue.
These two categories are used to describe the most common types of breast cancer, which include:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ. Ductal carcinoma in situ is a noninvasive condition. With DCIS, the cancer cells are confined to the ducts in your breast and havent invaded the surrounding breast tissue.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ. Lobular carcinoma in situ is cancer that grows in the milk-producing glands of your breast. Like DCIS, the cancer cells havent invaded the surrounding tissue.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma. Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. This type of breast cancer begins in your breasts milk ducts and then invades nearby tissue in the breast. Once the breast cancer has spread to the tissue outside your milk ducts, it can begin to spread to other nearby organs and tissue.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma. Invasive lobular carcinoma first develops in your breasts lobules and has invaded nearby tissue.
Other, less common types of breast cancer include:
The type of cancer you have determines your treatment options, as well as your likely long-term outcome.