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Breast Cancer in Women
starts in the tissue or ducts of the breast. Breast cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lung, and brain.
Common symptoms include the following:
- Swelling or a lump in your breast
- Bleeding or clear discharge from your nipple
- Aching or soreness of your breast
- Skin that is dimpled like an orange peel
- Nipple that looks like it has been pushed in
- Sudden red skin on your breast
- Swollen lymph nodes under your arm
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have chest pain.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded or short of breath.
Contact your oncologist if:
- You have a fever.
- Any new or different pain in your body.
- 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.
Treatment for breast cancer
depends on the size of the tumor, if it has spread, and if it responds to hormones. You may need more than one of the following:
- Hormone medicine may be used if the cancer is sensitive to hormones.
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-ray beams to kill cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy medicines are used to kill cancer cells. You may receive one medicine or a combination of medicines.
- Targeted therapy is medicine that finds markers on some cancer cells and kills the cells.
- Surgery may be used to remove the tumor.
include the following:
- Breast self-exams are done every month. Check your breasts for lumps and other changes. 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.
- Mammograms may be needed 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.
Manage your breast cancer:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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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.
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