Archive for November 2017

Calgary002's Story


“First of all, I would like to say thank you to the people who put this site together!! To all who have shared their story, my story is not that different than some, and yet very different than others. I just joined and am now going through testing and really had no one to talk to about what is going on as I do not want to bring any more fear in[to] my family than what already is here.

“My mother passed away from breast cancer 20+ years ago, at the age of 53. Her only sister (my aunt) also passed away at the same age from breast cancer, a few years before my mother. So myself and 2 younger sisters and cousin were told that we needed to watch very closely. It was not until my cousin was diagnosed at the age of 48 that we got in touch with the genetics department here in Alberta. They then discovered all three had the BRCA1/2 gene [mutations]. I choose not to get tested unless I do have breast cancer. I have 3 daughters, and worry that this is so new that if I did not have the BRCA1/2 gene [mutation] that screening for them would not be as thorough as it should be. I should also mention that my mother’s grandmother and grandfather also passed away from cancer, but somehow my grandmother did not.

“Now I am 53 and have a bloody discharge from my right breast. I have had the mammogram and ultrasound done. The breast specialist wants a galactography done, but when the request was sent in, the radiologist changed it to a[n] aspiration instead. Now I am fighting to get that changed and so upset because I can not talk to anyone about it because I am trying to spare them this fear. We have all lived with this black cloud over us and terrified to turn 50… I am the next one in line, then my younger sisters.

“I have read a lot of your stories and feel connected to man…

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Study Explores Quality of Life After Breast Cancer Diagnosis for Young Black Women

Breast Cancer News
November 30, 2017
Robin Warshaw, Contributing Writer

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What is lymphedema?

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an accumulation of fluid (lymph) in soft body tissues, due to impairment of the lymphatic vessels.  This build up of lymph causes swelling called lymphedema.

The lymphatic system carries a clear fluid called lymph, which drains out from tiny blood capillaries to lymphatic vessels throughout the body.  Lymph contains water, fats, white blood cells and other components .

Lymph from tissues and organs drains into the lymph vessels and is carried to the lymph nodes where it is filtered.

The collected lymphatic fluid is eventually returned to the blood stream via the subclavian vein.

For breast cancer patients, lymphedema might occur in the arm of the affected breast, hand, trunk, back or chest wall.

How do I get lymphedema?

Cancer treatment can affect the fluid drainage channels of the lymphatic system.

When axillary lymph nodes are removed during breast cancer surgery (with sentinel node biopsy or axillary dissection), or are treated with radiation, some of the lymph vessels can become blocked or can disappear altogether.

This blockage may prevent lymph from leaving the area and will overwhelm the remaining pathways, resulting in a backup of fluid into the tissues.

Lymphedema is a chronic condition. It does not get better with time unless detected and treated early.

The swelling might be so subtle that you can not see it but it might change overtime,  possibly leading to a larger limb/fingers.

When does lymphedema appear post treatment?

Lymphedema can appear immediately after treatment but it generally appears months or even years after the end of treatment.

Statistics on breast cancer patients getting lymphedema, average onset of lymphedema:

It is estimated that 20 to 30% of people will have lymphedema in the arm after breast cancer treatment that include  lymph node surgery and radiation to the lymph nodes.


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Overweight Women Likely to Have Larger Breast Cancers at Diagnosis, May Need More Frequent Screening

Overweight and obese women — defined as having a BMI (body mass index) higher than 25 — have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to women who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause. Being overweight also can increase the risk of breast cancer coming back (recurrence) in women who’ve been diagnosed with the disease.

This higher risk is partially because fat cells make estrogen; extra fat cells mean more estrogen in the body and estrogen can make hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers develop and grow. Scientists also have recently found that extra fat cells can trigger long-term, low-grade inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence; the proteins secreted by the immune system seem to stimulate breast cancer cells to grow, especially estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Statistics show that more than 66% of U.S. women are overweight or obese, which puts them at higher risk for breast cancer.

A Swedish study suggests that besides having a higher risk of breast cancer, overweight and obese women are more likely to have larger breast cancer tumors at diagnosis. The researchers said this may mean that overweight and obese women should have more frequent screening so the cancers can be found when they are smaller.

The study was presented on Nov. 29, 2017 at the 2017 Radiological Society of North America annual meeting. Read the abstract of “Large Breast Cancers in Women Attending Regular Screening: Risk Factors and Implications for Prognosis.” (PDF)

While studies have questioned the value of screening mammograms, many organizations, including, recommend that screening mammograms be done annually and start at age 40. In Sweden, women ages 50 to 69 have mammograms every…

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