F or decades, the medical community and the media have waged an effective awareness campaign about the signs and symptoms of breast cancereducating the public about the importance of diligently monitoring their breasts for lumps. And the tactic has worked. Some, then, may be led to assume that no lump and no tumor mean no cancer, but that may be a dangerous conclusion to draw.
It may be more common if radiation is given after surgery or in women who are obese. Sometimes the swelling lasts for only a few weeks and then goes away. But in some women, it lasts a long time.
If you're diagnosed with lymph node-positive breast cancer, it means cancer has spread from the original tumor to the nearest lymph nodeswhich are under your arm. When breast cancer spreads to lymph nodes it has essentially declared its "intent" to metastasize. These cancers, if left alone, would likely spread throughout the body.
The stage of the cancer helps you and your doctor:. Breast cancer stage is usually expressed as a number on a scale of 0 through IV — with stage 0 describing non-invasive cancers that remain within their original location and stage IV describing invasive cancers that have spread outside the breast to other parts of the body. Your pathology report will include information that is used to calculate the stage of the breast cancer — that is, whether it is limited to one area in the breast, or it has spread to healthy tissues inside the breast or to other parts of the body. Your doctor will begin to determine this during surgery to remove the cancer and look at one or more of the underarm lymph nodes, which is where breast cancer tends to travel first.
Cancer can begin anywhere in the body when harmful cells multiply out of control and crowd out normal, healthy cells. The type of cancer — such as breastlungor colon cancer — indicates where the cancer began. However, as the condition progresses, cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body and grow into new tumors.
Lymph nodes are small clumps of immune cells that act as filters for the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system runs throughout the body like the circulatory blood system and carries fluid and cells. Figure 4.
After performing a self-breast exam, Bonnie Brooks discovered a lump and immediately scheduled an appointment with her doctor. On September 11,she was diagnosed with Stage 3 metastatic breast cancer. Watch Bonnie's inspirational story and learn more about how she overcame breast cancer.
Enlarged axillary lymph nodes can be a symptom of a serious medical condition, including breast cancer. The human circulatory system includes the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems, two networks that play complementary roles. As you may recall from a high school biology class, the cardiovascular system consists of arteries and veins. Arteries transfer blood, enriched with oxygen and fuel, to cells.
Advanced breast cancer means that a cancer that began in the breast has spread to another part of the body. Advanced cancer can also be called secondary cancer. The most common places for breast cancer to spread to are the lymph nodes, bone, liver, lungs and brain.