The slightest pain and discomfort can bring up the thought: “Oh no, is my breast cancer back?” Having this concern is nothing out of the ordinary among survivors. Still, that lingering fear of breast cancer recurring can prevent you from living life to the fullest.
Here, we will ease your worries together and fill you with New Hope.
Though Possible, Not Everyone Experiences Breast Cancer Recurrence
Cancer can develop in the same breast where your original cancer occurred, or it can spread to another part of your body. The good news is, most survivors do not have a recurrence, especially those with early-stage breast cancer.
Therefore, whatever pain or discomfort you are feeling is unlikely because of cancer returning. For example, if your muscles ache after working out or playing sports, you probably exhausted your body. Get some much-needed rest, and you should feel better. If the pain persists for many days, share your concerns with your doctor.
Warning Signs of Breast Cancer Recurrence
If medication and other regular treatments for pain do not work, meet with your oncologist right away. You may need to undergo tests for metastasis (the development of secondary cancerous growths at a distance from a primary cancer site) to determine the potential cause of your pain.
Breast cancer most frequently spreads to the bones, lungs, liver, and brain. Researchers call this metastatic breast cancer. Its symptoms include:
- Falling, often more than once in a brief period of time.
- Recurrent headaches that do not go away, even with medication.
- Persistent pain in your right shoulder, which may indicate an issue with your liver.
- Pain arising from your liver area.
- Coughing or difficulty breathing that does not get better with usual treatments.
- Bones that ache with no apparent reason.
- Muscle pain that does not improve or heal after a reasonable amount of time — like a pulled muscle that still hurts after a couple of weeks.
- Unintended weight loss or gain, which may indicate active cancer.
On the other hand, a local breast cancer recurrence means that the disease has returned in or near the area where it was originally found. As a breast cancer survivor, it might be easy for you to re-identify the following symptoms of local recurrence:
- A new lump in the breast
- An area of the breast that seems unusually firm
- Inflammation or redness of the skin in or around the breast
- Bumps on or under the skin of the chest wall
- Changes to the nipple
- A new thickening on or near the mastectomy scar
- Swelling or pulling of skin at the lumpectomy site
The Bottom Line
Feeling paranoid about breast cancer recurrence is normal. Nonetheless, do not allow cancer to control your life beyond remission. Wire your subconscious to think that not everything is related to breast cancer, and then address it accordingly. If normal treatments fail, then insist on getting tests to understand your symptoms and acquire the information you need to continue living.
To learn more about life after breast cancer, we encourage you to read 10 Reassuring Statements for Breast Cancer Survivors.