Early Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

It is important to be very familiar with how your breasts look and feel, and to be aware of any changes in your breasts. Annual screenings are critical to breast cancer detection, but studies show that 40% of women with breast cancer discovered their tumors themselves. Many women often notice early signs of breast cancer while performing daily activities, such as bathing or putting on deodorant. The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump in the breast or armpit, however, there are many warning signs of breast cancer that you should be aware of including:
Early Warning Signs - BBN

  • Mass in the breast or armpit is the most common sign, often described as a ball or a nodule. Lumps may feel soft and rubbery or hard. It is unlikely that the lump will be visible, unless you have small breasts.
  • Dimpling or puckering on the breast
  • Scaliness on nipple
  • Redness or flaking of the skin
  • Nipple discharge (not breast milk)
  • Nipple changes (inversion, retraction, or pulling)
  • Ulcer on the breast or nipple
  • Thickening of the skin (orange-peel texture)
  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Persistent pain in an area of the breast
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit

It is important to note that you should not ignore symptoms just because you do not feel pain. Pain is rarely a major symptom of breast cancer. If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, be sure to contact your doctor right away.

Resources

CDC – What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer? (2018, September 11). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/symptoms.htm

Roth, M. Y., Elmore, J. G., Yi-Frazier, J. P., Reisch, L. M., Oster, N. V., & Miglioretti, D. L. (2011). Self-Detection Remains a Key Method of Breast Cancer Detection for U.S. Women. Journal of Womens Health, 20(8), 1135–1139. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2493

Underferth, D., & MD Anderson Cancer Center. (2019, September 4). Breast cancer symptoms you shouldn’t ignore. Retrieved from https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/breast-cancer-symptoms-you-shouldn-t-ignore.h10-1592991.html

What Are the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer? (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/breast-cancer/warning-signs

Inflammatory Breast Cancer: the “Silent Killer”

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer in need of increased awareness. IBC accounts for only 1-5% of all breast cancers, and it differs from other types of breast cancer in symptoms, outlook, and treatment. It is termed the “silent killer” because it tends to grow and spread quickly, often without a lump. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms are sometimes confused with breast infection, a more common cause of breast swelling and redness. Breast infection will respond to antibiotic treatment, however, if the redness does not improve, you should seek additional medical attention. Inflammatory breast cancer symptoms occur when cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin and can worsen within days, or as quickly as within a few hours. Symptoms include:Inflammatory Breast Cancer - BBN

  • Breast swelling, heaviness, or visual enlargement of one breast
  • Tenderness, pain or aching
  • Purple, red, or pink color or bruised appearance of the skin
  • Dimpling or thickening of the skin (similar to an orange-peel)
  • Unusual warmth of the affected breast
  • Flattening or inversion of the nipple
  • Rapid change in the appearance of one breast, over a few weeks
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit, above the collarbone, or below the collarbone

Seek medical attention right away if you notice any these signs and symptoms on your breasts.

It is also important to note that IBC differs from other forms of breast cancer in risk factors and age of diagnosis, among other things including:

  • Often does not cause a breast lump and may not be detected on a mammogram
  • IBC is more common in African American women
  • People who are obese or overweight are at higher risk
  • Tends to occur in younger women (even women younger than 40 years of age)
  • In about 1 out of every 3 cases, IBC has already metastasized to distant parts of the body upon diagnosis

IBC, like other forms of breast cancer, can also affect men. Treatments for inflammatory breast cancer include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Contact your doctor if you are concerned about any of the mentioned symptoms and share this information with family and friends to promote awareness of IBC. It could save a life.

Resources

Inflammatory Breast Cancer. (2020, January 21). Retrieved from https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/types/inflammatory?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIy6eju-3S6QIVBoTICh2S1Q9IEAAYASAAEgLNcPD_BwE

Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Details, Diagnosis, and Signs. (2019, September 19). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/understanding-a-breast-cancer-diagnosis/types-of-breast-cancer/inflammatory-breast-cancer.html

Jones, P., & MD Anderson Cancer Center. (2009, October 12). Identifying the silent killer: Inflammatory breast cancer. Retrieved from https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/cancerwise/identifying-the-silent-killer.h00-158517990.html

What you should bring to your chemotherapy session

Whenever you go through chemotherapy, you can be assured your health team will make sure your physical comfort is a priority.

There will be medications that will be provided to help your side effects. Nurses will be sure to check on you often to make sure you are okay.

Chemotherapy infusion side effects varies from patients so we are going to suggest to bring a bag of items with you. It can ease any anxiety you may be feeling and keep you distracted. Here are SOME items we believe you should bring to your session’s:

  1. Reading Material: We have seen patients in the past bring books of poetry, journals, motivational books, novels, and prayer books.
  2. Music/Podcasts: We suggest you to load up your iPod and phone with music, meditation apps, and podcasts.
  3. Games: Bring a deck of cards, download game apps, or boardgames.
  4. Comfy Clothes: We suggest you wear comfortable clothes like lounge wear, yoga pants, cardigan with a zip up feature, and a beanie. Infusion can make you chilly so just bring layers. Remember to bring layers of clothing that you take on and off easily. It’s just to make sure they provide easy access to your port or your arm for the infusion.
  5. Pillow: We suggest bringing a comfortable pillow to help make you feel more at ease during your appointment.
  6. Writing Material: We have seen patients bring items like coloring books, Sudoku. and word searches.
  7. Movies: Download your favorite movies because it will help pass the time.
  8. Hydration: It’s extremely important to be hydrated during your infusion, but there are many more drinks you can drink other than water. Be sure to ask your nurse what other drinks you can drink.
  9. Personal Items: Everyone will be different, but some items you can bring include: toothbrush, your medications, socks, mouthwash (for dry mouth) and lotion.
  10. Hardy Candy: Some patients can get dry mouth so sucking on a hard candy can be an easy solution.

We also found some items to gift anyone going through chemo:

One More Chemo Down Empathy Card, 1 Card, $4.50, EmilyMcDowell.com

Chimes Original Ginger Chews, 1 lb Bag, $25.94, Amazon.com

Great Bay Home Ultra Soft, Fuzzy Sherpa Stretch Knitted Bed Blanket, Twin Size, $32.99, Amazon.com

Chemo Warrior Tote Bag, $14.95, CafePress.com

Women’s Dual Chest Port Access Shirt, $45, CareAndWear.com

Black Speckled Love Your Melon Beanie, $30, LoveYourMelon.com

Lymphedema Compression Sleeve, $14.99, Amazon.com

“I Am Strong” Teal Blue Low-Cut Notes to Self Socks, $12.99, NotestoSelf.com

S’well Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, 17 oz, $35, Amazon.com

*Thank you everydayhealth for the suggestions.

Our Wish List

Help build a bridge by donating one or more of the following items:
 
Office Supplies:
  • White copy paper
  • Note cards
  • Post-It notes (any size)
  • Envelopes (any size, any color)
  • Forever stamps 

 Survivorship Bag Supplies:

  • Healthy snacks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Refillable Water Bottles/Tumblers
  • Hand moisturizer
  • Soft body measuring tape
  • Reusable Tote Bags 

 Please send these much needed items to the following address:
 
Bridge Breast Network
Attn: Wishlist Donations
4000 Junius Street
Dallas, Texas 75246

You can order online using AmazonSmile for even bigger savings and donations.

Support Groups & Cancer

Getting the news of being diagnosed with breast cancer can be one of the hardest moments in your life. Sometimes, we even see patients find that news harder than the actual treatment process. We know and can say that attitude is the little thing that can make a big difference.  However, no one said you have to handle this news and treatment process alone. 

There are so many support groups out there, and they can focus on a variety of topics. For example, some groups can help educate and explain what your body is going through. While other groups can handle the emotional side post diagnosis. These groups are going to expect you to share your feelings because they will include other people who know exactly what you are going through. We always recommend you open up to your friends and family, but studies have shown that some of the best advice one can get is from someone who is going through something similar. 

Support groups can be held in a variety of locations like in clinics, churches, homes, and more! Other groups can even offer more than just advice, like meditation to help ease the stress of the news. 

While we always encourage all of our patients to share their feelings during this difficult time, please keep one thing in mind: there’s no right or wrong way to share your feelings. Some patients are comfortable sharing their feelings in a group setting while others feel better talking to their friends and family. We also know this news can be difficult on your loved ones so please ask us about support groups for them!

Finally, talking to a patient navigator is a great first step in finding the support group that fits you. Don’t forget, ladies and gentleman, we are always here to answer your questions so please reach out if you have any!

Here Are Ways To Track Side Effects From Chemo Treatment

Whenever you receive any treatment like chemotherapy, it’s best to talk to your doctor about your potential side effects. It can be difficult to remember what you have experience when some effects include fatigue and fogginess. It’s always best to talk to your doctor to adjust your treatment to ease the side effects. They could add or change the timing of your medications or refer you to other clinicians.

Tracking Made Simple:

We suggest for you to take a daily log of your side effects and their level of severity. Here are some steps to set yourself up for success.

  1. Ask your doctor what side effects you will have and when they will arrive.
  2. List of who to call-It’s important to have these numbers steadily available.
  3. Print online worksheets: The American Cancer Society offers a free printable chemotherapy symptom worksheet that’s as simple to fill out as checking boxes. We suggest writing down these points:
    • All symptoms you’re experiencing
    • The severity of your symptoms
    • What medications you took for the symptoms
    • What you eat and drink
    • How much you sleep at night
  4. Bring your symptoms to every doctor appointment.

Tips for Exercising with Breast Cancer!

We are going to share some ways you can exercise whenever suffering with breast cancer. We suggest low impact exercise and luckily there are different kinds you can do! For example, here are some things you can do:

  • walking
  • yoga
  • Pilates
  • tai chi
  • dancing
  • bed and couch movements

Here’s some exercising tips as you go through treatment. And don’t forget to communicate with your doctor to ensure you’re exercising at the appropriate exertion level for your condition.

1. Feel free to exercise at your own pace.
2. Small movements are perfectly fine.
3. Practice restraint
4. Don’t worry about what others think
5. Remember that exercise has its benefits

The Daisy Wheel App Teaches You How To Perform A Breast-Self Exam In 8 Easy Steps

We have learned more than 50% of women diagnosed with breast cancer find a breast lump during a breast self exam versus a mammogram, a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health reported. This should tell you how important it is to perform breast-self exams frequently. There are many ways to find how to do this and even through apps! Today, we are highlighting the app called  Daisy Wheel. This app offers a variety of educational tips like how to perform a breast-self exam and even reminds you when you should take one!  We love how this app encourages people to do perform more breast-self exams.

Even if you are getting regular mammograms, it’s still important to perform regular exams.  “Data demonstrate[s] that individual U.S. women are almost as likely as healthcare professionals to notice the first signs of breast cancer. Even as women reach the recommended age for mammographic screening, they still frequently self-detect abnormalities that lead to a breast cancer diagnosis,” the study from the Journal of Women’s Health noted.

Download the app to get started and you can still learn the eight step breast-self exam process on The Get In Touch Foundation’s website or by watching this video.

The Get In Touch Foundation offers its Daisy Wheel Program free to school nurses and health educators across the country and around the world.

Know What Is Normal For You!

All breast cancer is not found by just feeling for a lump.  Some breast cancer such as inflammatory is found on the surface of the breast.  Other cancers may be detected due to unusual nipple discharge.  As a breast cancer organization we must make sure we are providing accurate information.  Please review the attached self- breast awareness information.  Let’s share this information noting Bridge Breast Network recommends a women  practices breast self-awareness and not just look for a lump.  Know your body, know your family health history, and know who to call.  The Bridge Breast Network is here to help.