Signs & Symptoms that Breast Cancer Has Spread

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When breast cancer spreads, it is defined as metastatic breast cancer. It spreads through the blood vessels or the lymphatic system. It most commonly spreads to the liver, bones and lungs. The signs and symptoms that breast cancer has spread heavily depends on the patient.

General Symptoms

  • There are some symptoms of breast cancer that patients experience regardless of where it spreads. These include unusual fatigue, feeling sick or under the weather, low energy and poor appetite, according to CancerHelp.org.

Lymph Nodes

  • If breast cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, there are certain symptoms a patient may experience. These can include underarm swelling that can get painful as the swelling increases. There are lymph nodes all throughout the body, such as around the collarbone and behind the breastbone, and swelling can occur anywhere there are lymph nodes if the cancer has spread to them, according to CancerHelp.org.

Bones

  • If breast cancer spreads to the bones, the patient can experience pain, and this pain can become quite severe for some patients. According to CancerHelp.org, when the pain gets severe, it can become difficult for the patient to move around and sleep. Cancer can also lead to increased bone weakness, which can result in breaks for some patients. If calcium is released into the blood by bone cells, patients can experience fatigue, confusion, nausea, irritability, constipation and thirst.

Liver

  • If breast cancer spreads to the liver, the patient may experience right side abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, nausea and a swollen abdomen. If the cancer causes liver swelling or presses on the covering of the liver, the patient can experience pain. According to CancerHelp.org, some patients may also experience jaundice.

Lungs

  • If breast cancer spreads to the lungs, the patient may have a cough or notice that they become short of breath easily. According to CancerHelp.org, patients may also experience other breathing problems, a buildup of fluid in the lungs and discomfort when they breathe.

Brain

  • According to CancerHelp.org, if breast cancer spreads to the brain, patients may experience headaches that can make them feel sick, have abnormal behavioral issues, experience memory problems and experience a part of their body not functioning normally. Though rare, patient may also experience problems with their eyesight.

References

  • Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
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