Breast cancer can recur even after you get treated. Whatever is the case, there is a high chance that it might relapse, but with regular screening and consultation, it can be prevented. As the recurrent rate is dependent on the stage of the cancer, timely treatment can help in improving the survival chance. As breast cancer can be localised or systemic (where the cancerous cells spread to different parts of the body), the symptoms of breast cancer relapse can be either localised or systemic.
Symptoms of breast cancer relapse
Localised spread: If the breast cancer is localised, in the case of relapse, it can affect the same area. Even when there is complete removal of the breast or just a part of it, there are chances of recurrence. The symptoms might be the appearance of a lump in the local site, nodules in the breast or thickening of the skin around the breast. In some cases, it can also show signs of discharge and ulceration, which indicates a serious medical condition. In the case of complete removal of the breast, symptoms like thin and multiple nodules on the skin and lump in the neck (due to the lymphatic spread of tumor) might be seen. Here are a few tips to cope with breast cancer you should know about!
Systemic spread: In the case of systemic spread, where the cancerous cells have migrated to different parts of the body, the symptoms will depend on where metastasises has taken place. The cancerous cells usually metastasized to the lungs, bone, brain and liver, can be detected only through proper investigation and regular follow-up. The symptoms of systemic breast cancer relapse are dependent on the site of the organ involved and are as follows –
Lungs: If the lungs are affected, then symptoms like breathlessness, pain in the chest, cough with or without phlegm and pain while breathing are commonly seen.
Liver: If the liver is invaded by the cancerous cells, the common signs include loss of weight and loss of appetite.
Bone: The signs that indicate that the bone is also affected by cancer metastasis are pain at the site of metastasis, which is very different from joint pain.
Brain: The symptoms that indicate metastasis of the brain are vomiting, headache, dizziness, seizures, convulsion and other neurological symptoms.
The only way to detect breast cancer relapse is through molecular testing followed by estimation and assessment of symptoms. And depending upon the site of relapse, treatment options like localised surgery or hormonal therapy, chemotherapy or radiation therapy are advised. Here’s more on relapse of breast cancer.