Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Breast Cancer Symptoms
Breast cancer symptoms may not appear before a screening shows cancer, but there are some signs you'll want to get checked. A breast lump is a common first sign of cancer, perhaps found during a breast self-examination. Other symptoms include a change in the breast's appearance or shape, swelling, lumps in the underarm area and nipple discharge. Know what signs and symptoms could be cause for a doctor visit to check for breast cancer with expert advice from Sharecare.

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    Parents of preteens (children nine to thirteen years old) frequently discover a peanut- or grape-sized lump under one of their children’s nipples. It happens most often in girls, but boys experience it too. It feels tender to the child, maybe even painful. Naturally, a worried mom—especially one who’s been drilled to do breast self-exams—freaks out and phones her pediatrician. Is it a tumor?! Is it breast cancer?! No. It’s likely a breast bud and a natural occurrence in puberty. However, if the lump is extremely painful, growing rapidly, red, secreting a discharge, or accompanied by a fever—or if you’re just really freaked out—then you should consult your child’s doctor.

    From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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    A Administration, answered on behalf of
    Paget's disease is a rare type of breast cancer that begins in the milk ducts right near the nipple and areola and then spreads to the skin of the nipple and the areola.

    Symptoms of Paget's disease may include:

    • Redness and irritation of the nipple and/or areola
    • Crusting and scaling of the nipple area
    • Bleeding from the nipple/areola
    • Oozing from the nipple/areola
    • Burning and/or itching of the nipple/areola
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    Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) does not cause symptoms and cannot be seen with a mammogram. This condition is usually found when a doctor is doing a breast biopsy for another reason, such as to investigate an unrelated breast lump. If a person has LCIS, the breast cells will appear abnormal under a microscope.
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    In most cases, nipple discharge is nothing to worry about. It could be due to cysts in the breasts, non-cancerous tumors or infection, among other conditions. Certain medications can lead to nipple discharge, as can consuming high amounts of caffeine, smoking and hormone therapy.

    Generally, a discharge from both breasts, or one that is yellow, green, blue or black is due to benign causes. But if you have a clear, colorless or bloody discharge, particularly if it is only coming from one breast and spontaneous, you should be concerned.

    In about 10-15% of cases, nipple discharge, particularly crusty nipples, may be a sign of breast cancer. In fact, one form of breast cancer called Paget's disease is marked by a crusty or scaly nipple sore or a discharge from the nipple.

    Bottom line: If you have any discharge from your breast, and you are not pregnant, nursing or have recently breastfed a baby, see your doctor for a complete evaluation.
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    Some common ailments breast cancer patients experience include weight loss, weight gain, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and constipation. Also, breast cancer and its treatment can bring about metabolic changes that cause or aggravate symptoms of diabetes.

    Your dietitian can recommend diet modifications based on your breast cancer treatment regime, micronutrient deficiencies and nutrition impact symptoms.

    The following are ways breast cancer nutrition therapy can help combat the side effects of treatment:
    • If you experience nausea, your dietitian may recommend that you eat more cold foods because they don’t have a strong odor, as well as lower-fat items since fats take longer to digest.
    • If you experience constipation, your dietitian may encourage you to eat fiber-rich foods and increase your fluid intake.
    • To combat fatigue, your dietitian may recommend high-protein snacks and small, frequent meals rather than large meals.
    • To help prevent breast cancer recurrence, your dietitian may encourage you to eat more cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, kale, cabbage).
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    Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on the part of the body to which the cancer has spread. 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 the lungs are affected, 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 the brain or spinal cord are affected, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, difficulty with movement or seizures.
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    A , Surgery, answered

    In general, if a needle biopsy shows atypical hyperplasia, surgery is indicated to remove the area. While needle biopsies are extremely accurate, studies have shown that in approximately 5-20% of cases where atypia is seen, there may be a small cancer in that area. Surgery is usually performed to get a larger area of tissue out with a clear margin. Having atypical hyperplasia increases the subsequent risk of developing a breast cancer, so continued surveillance is indicated as well.

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    See a doctor if you notice changes in your breast that could signal cancer - even if you've recently had a normal mammogram. Symptoms include lumps and changes in breast skin, shape, or size. All women should conduct monthly breast self-exams and see a health care provider annually for a manual breast exam. The earlier you catch breast cancer, the more likely it will be cured.

    However, in its earliest stages, breast cancer shows no symptoms. Women over age 50 should get regular mammograms, which can catch breast cancer before symptoms appear.

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    Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) has no accompanying symptoms. Your doctor detects this form of breast cancer by examining a mammogram, or an image of the inside of your breast. Your breast image includes microcalcifications, or small clusters of calcium, that have an unusual shape.

    This cluster could be either DCIS, invasive, or fast growing cancer, or atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), which is not breast cancer, but just a marker on women who are at increased risk for developing breast cancer. To determine exactly what the cluster is, your doctor will need to take a biopsy.

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    A , Pharmacy, answered
    The physical symptoms of HER2-positive breast cancer can be the same as for most types of breast cancer. If your doctor thinks you might have breast cancer, he or she is likely to take a biopsy (a sample of your breast tissue). If the biopsy shows you have cancer, a laboratory test can determine whether or not the cancer is HER2-positive -- meaning that the cells contain abnormally high levels of the HER2 protein, which can cause them to grow and spread faster than other types of cancer cells.

    Many breast cancers are diagnosed before a woman notices any symptoms, through tests like mammograms. But you should call your doctor right away if you notice any of the following possible symptoms of breast cancer:
    • a new lump or mass in your breast or armpit
    • swelling of all or part of a breast 
    • breast skin that appears red, irritated, scaly and/or dimpled
    • breast or nipple pain
    • unusual nipple discharge (possibly bloody or pus-like yellow or green fluid)
    • nipple retraction (turning inward)
    • bone pain, weight loss, arm swelling or skin ulcers (symptoms of more advanced breast cancer)