Making changes in your daily life may help reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Ask your doctor about breast cancer screening. Discuss with your doctor when to begin breast cancer screening exams and tests, such as clinical breast exams and mammograms.
Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of screening. Together, you can decide what breast cancer screening strategies are right for you.
Become familiar with your breasts through breast self-exam for breast awareness. Women may choose to become familiar with their breasts by occasionally inspecting their breasts during a breast self-exam for breast awareness. If there is a new change, lumps or other unusual signs in your breasts, talk to your doctor promptly.
Breast awareness can't prevent breast cancer, but it may help you to better understand the normal changes that your breasts undergo and identify any unusual signs and symptoms.
Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to less than one drink a day, if you choose to drink.
Exercise most days of the week. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. If you haven't been active lately, ask your doctor whether it's OK and start slowly.
Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy may increase the risk of breast cancer. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone therapy.
Some women experience bothersome signs and symptoms during menopause and, for these women, the increased risk of breast cancer may be acceptable in order to relieve menopause signs and symptoms.
To reduce the risk of breast cancer, use the lowest dose of hormone therapy possible for the shortest amount of time.
Maintain a healthy weight. If your weight is healthy, work to maintain that weight. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy strategies to accomplish this. Reduce the number of calories you eat each day and slowly increase the amount of exercise.
Choose a healthy diet. Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat.
Recurrent Breast Cancer
Recurrent breast cancer is considered to be an advanced cancer. In such cases, the disease has come back in spite of the initial treatment. Most recurrences appear within the first 2 - 3 years after treatment, but breast cancer can recur many years later. Treatment options are based on the stage at which the cancer reappears, whether or not the tumor is hormone responsive, and the age of the patient. Between 10 - 20% of recurring cancers are local. Most recurrent cancers are metastatic. All patients with recurring cancer are candidates for clinical trials.
Because most breast cancer recurrences are discovered by patients in between doctor visits, it is important to notify your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms. These symptoms may be signs of breast cancer recurrence:
New lumps in the breast
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Persistent headaches or coughing
Rash on breast
New, improved treatments are helping people with breast cancer live longer. Even with treatment, breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Sometimes, cancer returns, even after the entire tumor has been removed and nearby lymph nodes are found to be cancer-free.
Some women who have had breast cancer develop a new breast cancer that is not related to the original tumor.
How well you do after being treated for breast cancer depends on many things. The more advanced your cancer, the poorer the outcome. Other factors that determine the risk for recurrence and the likelihood of successful treatment include:
Location of the tumor and how far it has spread
Whether the tumor is hormone receptor-positive or -negative
Tumor size and shape
Rate of cell division or how quickly the tumor is growing
After considering all of the above, your provider can discuss your risk of having a recurrence of breast cancer.
You may experience side effects or complications from cancer treatment. These may include temporary pain or swelling of the breast and surrounding area. Ask your doctor about the possible side effects from treatment.
WHEN TO CONTACT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL:
Contact your health care provider if:
You have a breast or armpit lump
You have nipple discharge
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms after being treated for breast cancer:
Rash on the breast
New lumps in the breast
Swelling in the area
Pain, especially chest pain, abdominal pain, or bone pain
BENIGN BREAST LUMPS
You do a breast self-exam and find a lump. Now what?
If you notice any breast changes, you should call your doctor right away to get checked, but don't panic. Most breast lumps are benign, which means they're not cancerous. Benign breast lumps usually have smooth edges and can be moved slightly when you push against them. They are often found in both breasts.
There are several common causes, including normal changes in breast tissue, breast infection or injury, and medicines that may cause lumps or breast pain.
Breast tissue changes during a woman's entire life. It is sensitive to changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle.
What Can Cause Benign Breast Lumps?
Fibrocystic changes. For some women, changes in hormones during normal monthly menstrual cycles can create breast changes. These are known as fibrocystic breast changes. Women with fibrocystic breasts usually get lumps in both breasts that increase in size and tenderness just before they get their period. They sometimes have nipple discharge as well.
The lumps are milk ducts and tissues around them that have grown and gotten wider to form cysts. The cysts enlarge quickly in response to hormones released near your period. The lumps may be hard or rubbery and may be felt as a single (large or small) breast lump. Fibrocystic changes can also cause breast tissue to thicken.
These changes are often most noticeable during your 40s. They are the most common cause of benign breast lumps in women ages 35 to 50. Postmenopausal women are less likely to have these types of breast changes. That’s because they don’t have monthly changes in hormones.
Simple cysts. Simple cysts are fluid-filled sacs that usually happen in both breasts. There can be one or many. They can vary in size. Tenderness and size often change with your menstrual cycle.
Fibroadenomas. These are the most common benign tumors. If you push on them they are solid, round, rubbery lumps that move freely. They’re usually painless. Fibroadenomas happen when your body forms extra milk-making glands. Women between 20 and 30 get them most often. They’re also more common in African-American women.
Intraductalpapillomas. These are small, wart-like growths in the lining of the mammary duct near the nipple. They usually affect women who are 45 to 50. They can cause bleeding from the nipple.
Traumatic fat necrosis. This happens when there is an injury to the breast, thought you may not remember an injury happening. It causes fat to form in lumps that are generally round, firm, hard, and painless. You usually get one at a time.
How Are Benign Breast Conditions Treated?
Fibrocystic breast changes do not require treatment, but your doctor may recommend things to help relieve monthly tenderness.
Simple cysts can be treated through fine needle aspiration. You don’t need surgery to do this. A small needle is used to suck out some cells from the breast lump. If the lump is a cyst, they can suck out the fluid and the cyst will collapse. Cysts can also go away on their own, so your doctor may choose to wait before trying to get rid of it.
Fibroadenomas and intraductalpapillomas can be removed surgically.
It can be hard to tell if a lump from traumatic fat necrosis is that or something else until your doctor does a biopsy. These usually don’t need to be treated. But if the lump bothers you, it can be cut out.
Can Men Get Breast Lumps?
Yes. Men can have tender breast enlargement, often with a lump under the nipple. Sometimes this is in one breast, but it often happens in both. This noncancerous condition is called gynecomastia.
Does a Breast Lump Mean Infection?
Possibly. Sometimes a painful lump, with or without redness, is the first sign of an infection. Mastitis is an infection most common in breastfeeding moms. It’s caused by bacteria that get into the mammary ducts through the nipple. Infection happens in small pockets. You’ll feel tender, warm lumps in the breast.
For relief, try a hot shower and let the warm water flow over your breasts. A warm compress can also help. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic.
What Should I Do If I Find a Breast Lump?
See your doctor if you discover any new breast changes. A doctor should examine you if you find:
An area that is clearly different from any other area on either breast
A lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle
A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea
A marble-like area under the skin
A change in the feel of the skin on the breast or nipple or how it looks. It could be dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed.
Clear or bloody fluid coming out of the nipple
Red skin on the breast or nipple
What Will Happen at My Appointment?
Your doctor will ask you some questions about your health history. He will perform a breast exam to feel for lumps or other changes in the breast tissue and under the arms.
If there is fluid coming out of your nipple, your doctor will collect a sample and check for cancer cells. He may also do a mammogram or ultrasound to see if the lump is solid or filled with fluid.
Your doctor may order a biopsy. He will take a tiny sample of the lump with a needle or small cut and send it to a lab.
How Do I Keep My Breasts Healthy?
Once you turn 20, your doctor may give you a breast exam in which he feels your breast tissue for changes. It is advised that a clinical breast exam be done every 1-3 years starting at 20.
Get a mammogram as you get older. It’s best to talk with your doctor to decide the right time and how often because experts disagree. It is best to get one every year once you turn 45 or every 2 years when you turn 50 until you’re 74.
If you’re at high risk for breast cancer, you should get a mammogram every year. You may start getting them at a younger age, too. You may also get ultrasound screenings too. Breast MRI screening, in addition to mammogram, is used only if your lifetime risk of breast cancer is greater than 20%. Talk with your doctor to decide what may be best for you.
COSMETIC IMPLANTS MAY UNDERMINE BREAST CANCER SURVIVAL
Women who have cosmetic breast implants and develop breast cancer may have a higher risk of dying prematurely form the disease compared to other females, researchers from Canada reported.
Experts had long-wondered whether cosmetic breast implants might make it harder to spot malignancy at an early stage, because they produce shadows on mammograms.
It was found that a woman with a cosmetic breast implant has a 25% higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer when the disease has already advanced, compared to those with no implants.
Women with cosmetic breast implants who are diagnosed with breast cancer have a 38% higher risk of death from the disease, compared to other patients diagnosed with the same disease who have no implants, the researchers wrote.