Recurrent breast cancer occurs either locally (in the treated breast or near the mastectomy scar) or far from the original site (somewhere else in the body). The common sites where breast cancer recurs include the lymph nodes, the bones, liver and the lungs.
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How to Determine Breast Cancer Recurrence
If you've undergone treatment for breast cancer, the doctor looking after your condition will ask you to come for regular follow-up sessions wherein he will examine the treated area and the other breast. Aftercare medical check-ups are usually conducted on a monthly basis and include breast assessment and physical examination to check for any recurrence.
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Breast changes that are indicative of recurrent breast cancer are as follows:
- There will be a lump or thickening of skin in or around the breast or near the underarm.
- Breast or skin changes that persist throughout the menstrual cycle.
- Breast changes such as those of size, shape or contour of the breast.
- An area on or around the breast, which is distinctly different from the other side.
- Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
- A change in the appearance and feel of the skin on the nipple
- Dimpled, puckered, scaly or inflamed skin of the breast.
- Fluid or blood discharge from the nipples.
Factors that Determine the Likelihood of Recurrence
Here are the prognostic factors that determine the recurrence of breast cancer to help a doctor predict it.
- People with breast cancer that moved to the lymph nodes are likely to have recurrent breast cancer.
- If the size of a tumour that was removed earlier was large, there is a greater chance of recurrence.
- ER-positive tumours are less aggressive to progress than ER-negative.
- Measuring histologic grade of the cells is another way of determining cancer recurrence. Tumour cells that resemble normal cells when viewed under the microscope are abnormal and rapidly growing cancer cells.
- Cancer cells with a high nuclear grade, a rate at which cancer cells in the tumour divide to form more cells are usually aggressive and recurrent.
- Oncogene that causes or promotes cancerous changes within the cell is another indicative factor that may increase a patient's risk of recurrence.
[Read: How to Survive Breast Cancer]
Don’t fear the possibility of breast cancer recurrence or metastatic diseases. Many women continue to live long despite of breast cancer recurrence. There are many options in which you can get through with the treatment and beyond. It is natural to be anxious and uncertain in such a situation but learning about it may help you put away any anxiety and stay strong.
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