It is a very difficult time when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, not forgetting that men can be diagnosed with the disease albeit very rarely, but even worse when she has seemingly defeated the cancer only to discover it has returned. When it does recur it is mostly in the time frame of three to five years after the all-clear. Women with breast cancer will be aware that the all-clear is only for the present and there is always the possibility the cancer will re-appear. Know too that breast cancer can recur in the breast or elsewhere in the body.
If cancer is discovered again other than in the breast, the most likely places it will recur are in the lungs liver, bones or lymph nodes. Every woman and especially those who have been treated for breast cancer should continue with their self-examination procedures and regular medical check-ups. There are many symptoms which could be an indicator of the recurrence of breast cancer.
Here are some of those symptoms.
- Any changes in the appearance of the breast, its shape, color, size, etc .
- A thickening or lump in the underarm region
- Any lump even a very small one such as the size of a pea
- Unnatural discharge from a nipple
- A change in the color of the breast’s skin – red, blotchy, scaly
- Change in the color of the skin particularly a reddish color Medical science tells us there is a risk factor indicating the likelihood of the recurrence of breast cancer. Women in the following categories have a higher risk factor of recurrence.
- If the original tumor was large there is a greater risk
- Women who had their cancer involving lymph nodes
- High histological rating – the most abnormal cells are ranked high in the histological scale. The higher the ranking the greater the risk of recurrence.
- Oncogenes are genes which promote abnormal cell growth, the cause of the tumor. If the original tumor has a high oncogene content, the risk of a recurrence is greater When a woman is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, the medical staff will consider possible recurrence of the disease and recommend treatment appropriate to preventing future infection. Surgery and radiation will likely be used but radiation can be a means of preventing or trying to prevent any future development of the cancer.
Once a recurrence is discovered the treatment depends on certain conditions. If only the tumor was removed in the initial cancer, then a mastectomy is the usual course of action. If the recurrence in is the other breast, the treatment will depend on its severity and will be regarded as a new cancer. Note that radiation therapy cannot be given twice to the same area. If the recurrence is found in other parts of the body, the treatment will depend again on the severity of the tumor and its position in the body. Breast cancer is a tough disease at the best of times and to survive the fight only to discover the disease has come back makes for an even tougher time. But many women in this situation have beaten the disease a second time.
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