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Breast Cancer In Women
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Breast cancer starts in the tissue or ducts of the breast. It can cause a lump, deformity of the breast, or discharge from the nipple. Breast cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lung, and brain.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded or short of breath.
- You cough up blood.
Contact your oncologist if:
- You have a fever.
- You cannot make it to your radiation or chemotherapy appointment.
- You are vomiting and cannot keep food or liquids down.
- You are depressed or feel that you cannot cope with your illness.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your oncologist as directed:
You will need to see your oncologist for ongoing treatment and follow-up. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Do monthly breast self-exams:
Check your breasts for lumps and other changes every month. If you have monthly periods, examine your breasts after your period is over. Contact your oncologist if you notice any breast changes. Ask for more information about how to do breast self-exams.
Have mammograms as directed:
You may need a mammogram every 6 to 12 months. Ask if and how often you need a mammogram. If you are having monthly periods, schedule your mammogram for the first 2 weeks following your monthly period.
Do not smoke:
Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your breast cancer. Smoking also increases your risk for new or returning cancer and delays healing after treatment. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed:
Your oncologist may tell you to limit or not drink alcohol. Alcohol may increase the risk that your breast cancer will come back. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
Exercise as directed:
Ask your oncologist about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise may help to decrease the side effects of treatment, such as nausea, vomiting, and weakness. It may also help improve your mood. Stop exercising if you feel pain in your chest, have trouble breathing, or feel dizzy. Do not exercise if you have a fever or if you had anticancer medicines through an IV in the last 24 hours.
Eat a variety of healthy foods:
Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
Drink liquids as directed:
Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration. You will also need to replace fluid if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.