Breast Cancer Growth Rate

I came across this article recently and it was really shocking to me. I have always understood that breast cancer grows by cell division, but I had no idea of the timing from when it starts to when you can feel a lump in the breast like I did. I know that the information below is scary, but I am posting this to inform my readers because I truly believe that when it comes to breast cancer, early detection and information are key. If you won’t listen to me, listen to a doctor who makes it clear in the article below that a yearly mammogram is so incredibly important. As you know, I also believe that a monthly self-exam between mammograms is just as important. I don’t want anyone to go through what I have been through in the last 18 months, so if I can help just one reader understand the importance of mammograms then I have done my job.

Speaking of mammograms…my last mammogram was before my first surgery in April 2019. Now that I am over six months out from my last radiation treatment it is time to finally have a mammogram done to make sure that cancer has not come back. My surgeon explained that we couldn’t have a mammogram done any sooner than now because the radiation causes the images to look cloudy. So, next Monday I will have the mammogram done that my surgeon ordered back in February. I am scared, to say the least, but I am trying to have faith that all of the chemo and radiation treatments killed any tiny cancer cells that may have been too small to detect after my first surgery.

Ask an Expert: Breast cancer growth rate

From the expert staff of breast cancer research at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center at Providence Portland Medical Center:

Like a lot of cancers, breast cancer grows by simple cell division. It begins as one malignant cell, which then divides and becomes two bad cells, which divide again and become four bad cells, and so on. Breast cancer has to divide 30 times before it can be felt. Up to the 28th cell division, neither you nor your doctor can detect it by hand.

With most breast cancers, each division takes one to two months, so by the time you can feel a cancerous lump, cancer has been in your body for two to five years. It can certainly seem like a lump appeared out of nowhere – especially if you or your doctor have recently examined your breasts and not felt anything suspicious – but in reality, cancer has simply doubled that one last time necessary to be noticeable. By the time you can feel it, a breast tumor is usually a little more than one-half inch in size – about a third the size of a golf ball. It has also been in your body long enough to have had a chance to spread.

This sounds scary, but what it really underscores is the importance of regular mammograms. These screening tests can usually detect breast cancer when it’s about one-quarter inch in size or smaller – a year or more before it would be detectable by hand. Mammograms also make possible the early diagnosis of some pre-cancerous conditions and early-stage cancers that appear as tiny calcifications (microcalcifications) on mammography but aren’t detectable by physical examination.

It’s important to realize that there are two types of mammograms:

screeningmammogram is performed in cases where there isn’t any known problem. This type of mammogram is used for annual exams.

A diagnostic mammogram is performed when there is a known problem that requires careful evaluation. Diagnostic mammograms provide much more extensive images than screening mammograms, such as views from additional angles and compression, or blow-up, views. Often an ultrasound will be done in addition to the mammogram if there is a palpable lump. Make sure you receive a diagnostic mammogram if you’ve found a lump.

Once a breast cancer gets big, every doubling is significant. If you find a lump, see your doctor as soon as possible. Don’t settle for just a mammogram if the mammogram doesn’t find anything. The next step should be a screening ultrasound, and if those results are indeterminate you need to get a biopsy. Ask your doctor for these tests if he or she doesn’t schedule them.

Here’s Why Exercise Is Crucial in Preventing, Treating Cancer

I struggle with getting exercise into my daily routine not because I am too busy, but because I am still dealing with fatigue from over a year of fighting breast cancer. Everything about my journey has been exhausting both physically and mentally. Luckily I am on the other side of treatments and endless doctors appointments so my energy level is slowly improving. Most days I try to get some form of activity in, even if it is just cleaning part of the house or playing with my dog….it all counts and I make sure to remind myself of that.

Written by Matt Berger on October 20, 2019

Strength training two to three times a week along with aerobic exercise three times a week is recommended for cancer prevention.
  • A panel of experts has released guidelines stating that regular exercise can help prevent cancer as well as help people undergoing cancer treatment.
  • The experts recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 times a week and strength training 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Experts say exercise can help prevent cancer by reducing inflammation, keeping weight under control, and boosting the immune system.

Kathryn Schmitz is seeking a paradigm shift.

Schmitz, a professor of public health specializing in cancer at Penn State University, thinks the perception of the ties between exercise and cancer is where the perception of the ties between exercise and heart health was decades ago.

Back then, she said, getting a patient out of bed and moving after a heart attack would be criticized. Today, the benefits of exercise to heart health and recovery are well known.

A similar consensus is emerging in the way the medical field thinks about cancer.

The latest sign in that shift came this week, with the publication of new guidelines that recommend physicians “prescribe” exercise in efforts to reduce the risk of certain cancers and improve the treatment outcomes and quality of life of those with the disease.

“Today if you asked someone with a dad with colon cancer if he should be exercising they’d probably either say no or they don’t know,” Schmitz told Healthline.

Schmitz co-chaired the roundtable — which included experts from the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Cancer Society, and 15 other groups — that put together the new guidance.

The gist of the guidance, published in three papers this week, is that exercise can contribute to the prevention of bladder, breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and uterine cancer.

The guidelines also state exercise can help improve survival rates for people with breast, colon, and prostate cancer — as well as the quality of life of those people in terms of reducing side effects of cancer treatment.

How much exercise?

The researchers recommend that people with cancer do 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity 3 times a week and strength training such as weights 2 to 3 times a week.

Schmitz said originally the researchers looking into that question sought to find out if there were specific “doses” of exercise that could be tailored to different people with cancer.

But the 30 minutes 3 times a week recommendation seemed to work pretty universally.

They still ended up with their goal of being able to “prescribe exercise like a drug,” Schmitz said. “Just turns out that it’s, say, 600 milligrams for everybody, if you will.”

In terms of cancer prevention, the recommended general physical activity guidelines are at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.

Schmitz says getting more tailored recommendations for cancer prevention is one of the remaining open questions that ongoing research hopes to help answer.

“We don’t know the exact, optimal dose of exercise needed for cancer prevention,” Alpa Patel, the American Cancer Society’s senior scientific director for epidemiology research, told Healthline. “But we know from the evidence to date that the more you do the better.”

Why exercise works

Patel, lead author of the paper that covered the prevention aspects of the new guidance, said how exactly exercise affects cancer prevention is severalfold.

That includes exercise’s effects on reducing inflammation, helping regulate blood sugar and sex hormones, and improving metabolism and immune function.

“Depending on the specific cancer, one or more of those mechanisms may be more important than the others,” he said. “So, for breast cancer, the benefits of exercise are really driven through the impact on sex hormones.”

“It can also affect cancer development or risk through reducing obesity, a risk factor for many cancers,” said Dr. Crystal Denlinger, an oncologist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s panel on survivorship guidelines.

She told Healthline that the exact reasons why exercise affects certain cancers in different ways still needs additional research.

The current recommendations do vary a bit based on personal history, Denlinger noted. But, she said, “at this time, there is no one ‘best’ exercise — anything that gets you moving and active is good.”

She said further trials are under way to evaluate how and when exercise can affect cancer treatment.

The effort underway for Schmitz — through an initiative she started at the American College of Sports Medicine — is pushing to get oncologists to assess and advise cancer patients’ physical activity.

“This is an easy, cheap way to give patients less fatigue and a better quality of life,” she said.

16 Months in Pictures

Mood: Amazed 😌

As I was looking through my pictures the other day I noticed that I have a picture of myself, taken in most months from when I was diagnosed with breast cancer up to the present time. So I decided to make a collection showing how I looked before breast cancer {the first picture} all the way up to how I look now {the last picture}. You can clearly see when the chemotherapy treatments really started to effect how I looked; the loss of my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, my skin getting dryer and my fine lines showing more.

It’s a given that the last 16 months have been hard on me both mentally and physically.  But, nothing tore me down and damaged me more than the chemotherapy treatments did. Chemotherapy took a part of me that I will never get back. When the chemotherapy treatments were over I realized how much the drugs and the stress of everything I had been through up to that point had aged me, a lot. Looking back through my pictures it’s easy to see how much my face has aged and it breaks my heart. I am doing what I can to undo the damage but it has not been an easy process.

8 Exercise Routines That Don’t Involve a Gym

A long time ago I had a gym membership with a friend of mine and eventually that friend stopped coming to the gym, even no showing our trainer. I kept my membership and continued to go to the gym but as soon as my membership was up I decided to find a way to workout at home. I have done a few of the suggestions below and I have found that a gym is not needed. Now with online classes both live and on demand and affordable home equipment, it is easy and convenient to workout at home. My workout schedule has been on and off over the past year due to extreme fatigue from treatments, generally not feeling well and having multiple surgeries. I intend on getting back to regular workouts soon and in the meantime I have been working on keeping my eating as healthy as possible so I am steadily losing weight. If I can do it, you can do it….there is always something you can do.

By Lorna Collier Last Updated: May 8, 2019

Skip the Gym and Get Fit at Home

You want to exercise, you really do, but it’s tough to fit a trip to the gym into your jam-packed daily schedule. Not to mention gym memberships can be expensive. Or it may be intimidating to think about working out next to pumped-up hard bodies if you’re just looking to stay fit. Whatever your reason, avoiding the gym doesn’t have to mean giving up exercise. Try these tips to reach your 30 minutes of daily activity outside of a fitness center. 

1. Video Workouts

Want to avoid spending money on fitness DVDs? Many local libraries have collections of workout videos you can check out for free. You can also buy used copies through online classifieds or garage sales. Streaming sites like YouTube or your cable’s on-demand service can also be budget-friendly sources of video workouts. Government agencies like the American Council on Exercise and the Centers for Disease Control also offer free online exercise videos. Seniors can get a free exercise DVD tailored to older participants from the National Institutes of Health. 

2. Exercise Videogames

Videogame platforms like the popular Wii Fit for Nintendo use technology to track your body’s movements, so you can play games like tennis or golf virtually, as well as ride bikes, box, and dance. One study showed that participants burned more calories playing Wii’s boxing module for 30 minutes than through brisk walking. Exer-games can be a fun way to stay fit at home, though you will need to use them regularly and with intensity. Along with the Nintendo Wii, you can find exer-games for PlayStation and Xbox, too. 

3. Home Gyms

These days, it’s possible to build your own home gym on any size budget. You can buy firsthand from sporting goods and fitness stores or score used equipment from garage sales, resale shops, or online resources like Craigslist. Friends or relatives also may want to find a new home for the treadmill that’s taking up dust in their basement, so let them know you’re looking. Many discount stores carry small exercise items, such as fitness balls, jump ropes, and resistance bands, making it convenient to complete your home gym on your weekly shopping runs.

4. DIY Equipment at Home

You don’t even necessarily have to buy equipment to exercise at home. Do you have stairs? Voila! You have a StairMaster. Want to do step training? You can swap out a pricey exercise step for a stepstool or sturdy chair. Large cans of food or 12 packs of soda make effective hand weights. Finally, use your own body as a weight, doing planks, push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks, and balancing poses to increase strength and tone muscle. 

5. Mall Walking

Walking is the easiest, least expensive activity to fit into your day. If you want to get out of the house but don’t have anywhere outside that you’d like to walk, or if the weather is bad, consider becoming a mall walker. Some malls even open early to allow mall walkers to make their way through the halls, which is especially good if you want to avoid slower-moving crowds of shoppers. Keep in mind that for a workout, mall walking is more than just an excuse to window shop. Walk fast enough that singing would be difficult, but not so fast that you can’t talk. 

6. Household Chores

It can be hard to get to chores when you think of them as, well, chores. But as fitness boosters, they’re a sure thing. Vacuuming, scrubbing floors and walls, and many other household tasks can rev up your cardio system or challenge your muscles enough to help you get fit. Outdoor chores like gardening or sweeping the garage count, too. Just keep your mind open to possibilities as you go about your daily tasks and remember to do them energetically enough to break a sweat and get your heart pumping. 

7. Outdoor Clubs

Community clubs and activity groups offer a fun and social alternative to the gym. The Sierra Club, for example, has lists of local hikes, bicycling trips, and other outdoor activities you can join. Search online social sites like Meetup.com for groups and people near you who are interested in outdoor activities like walking, hiking and other outside-the-gym fitness pursuits. For a more intense outdoor workout, try boot camp programs in local parks run by trainers who can provide a gym-level workout outside a traditional gym. 

8. At-Home Personal Trainers

Certified personal trainers don’t only work with clients at gyms. They also make home visits and can design personal workout routines for you in the environment you prefer. You can check with your local fitness club for referrals, or visit personal training professional associations like the American Council on Exercise to find qualified trainers in your area. 

5 Tips for Coping with Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence

I agree with so much of what this article talks about. Will I ever not worry about recurrence? Probably not, but I can find a place for that worry in my life, somewhere in the background. Some days I am overwhelmed by thoughts of recurrence, usually sparked by a sudden pain in my breast, which I still have from time to time. The pain is not surprising considering I have had three surgeries on my chest, and it takes awhile for the nerves to fire back up, so I try not to over react. My next mammogram is in August, 6 months after finishing radiation, so I will know for sure at that point if I am cancer free.

Medically reviewed by Krystal Cascetta, MD on May 12, 2020 New — Written by Theodora Blanchfield

Fear of breast cancer recurrence is common among survivors — but it doesn’t have to control your life.

For many breast cancer survivors, the fear of recurrence can be all-encompassing.

You may feel guilt for this — like you should feel more grateful for your health — but it’s completely normal to have both gratitude and fear, says Dr. Gabriela Gutierrez, LMFT, clinical oncology therapist at Loma Linda University Cancer Center.

“Cancer is like an earthquake with many aftershocks,” she says. “Just because the big one of is out of the way doesn’t mean the ripples are gone.”

The journey transitions from a physical one to a mental one, and it may be a lifelong battle. In fact, nearly half of patients have some fear of recurrence.

The good news is that you’re not alone and there are ways to cope.

1. Normalize the fear

Unfortunately, fear is part of the journey, says Gutierrez. It’s perfectly normal that you’re feeling this way. In fact, fear means that you care about your life — that you do have hope for the life ahead of you.

And it’s possible you’re feeling the emotions you pushed to the side during treatment, says Lauren Chatalian, LMSW, a therapist at CancerCare.

“In the treatment phase, an individual is just thinking about survivorship,” she says. On the other side, thoughts of the ordeal you just went through and facing that again can be overwhelming.

Now might be a good time to reach out to a therapist or social worker, especially if you didn’t talk to one while going through treatment. They can help you further normalize and process these feelings.

2. Ask for support

You don’t have to go through this alone. Your loved ones are probably also scared and may fear bringing it up.

“Finding ways to bond against fear together can make it more manageable, rather than having individual battles against fear, which can promote isolation,” says Gutierrez.

But it can feel like an isolating experience, especially if you don’t have any other survivors in your life.

ResearchTrusted Source shows that being part of a breast cancer support group can improve quality of life.

Creating connections with people with similar experiences — either in-person or virtually — can help you feel understood. It may also strengthen your relationships with family and friends by alleviating some of the emotional burden they’re carrying from not knowing how to best support you.

If your loved ones are worrying that you’re overreacting, they should understand that “the survivor is sometimes operating from a lens of trauma,” says psycho-oncologist and breast cancer survivor Dr. Renee Exelbert. “And [you] may therefore see other more minor health issues as indicative of a recurrence.”

Share with them just how normal your fear of recurrence is.

3. Continue being proactive about medical care

It can be tempting to want to bury your head in the sand and never visit another doctor’s office again after a long battle with cancer. But keeping up with your doctor’s appointments, including any medical visits you may have put to the side during treatment, is important.

As you likely already know, early detection is key.

Reach out to your doctor if you’re experiencing any of your original symptoms, or any new symptoms, including pain or physical problems that interfere with your quality of life.

Visiting your doctor after surviving cancer treatment can bring back a flood of memories you may not be prepared for, says Susan Ash-Lee, LCSW, vice president of clinical services at Cancer Support Community.

Writing your questions in advance and bringing a family member or friend with you can be helpful.

4. Regain a sense of control over your body

Cancer can make you feel like your body is betraying you or like it’s not your own.

“An excellent way to regain a sense of control is through diet and exercise,” says Exelbert. “This allows the individual to be an active agent of change, and in command of choices that can positively impact their health.”

Whether you had a mastectomy or not, your body is different now than it was before cancer, and activities that strengthen the mind-body connection, like yoga, can help you feel more grounded, Ash-Lee says. (Of course, always be sure to clear any physical activity with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program!)

Taking time to be mindful can also help you tune in to your bodily sensations, feeling like your body is your own again.

“Mindfulness is simply paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment,” Ash-Lee says. “Being mindful can improve our concentration, enhance our relationships, and help decrease our stress.”

5. Focus on enjoying your life

Sometimes, after treatment, you may be feeling stuck, like you don’t remember what life was like before diagnosis.

“Cancer was able to guide so much of your life during treatment; now that it is out of your body, we don’t want to continue to give it the power to guide you even though it’s gone,” says Gutierrez. “That’s not the life you fought for.”

You get to celebrate now! Facing cancer is one of the hardest things you will ever have to go through — and you survived.

What’s on your bucket list? Now’s the time, if you have the energy, to do all the things you always said you’d do someday.

Take your dream trip, pick up a new hobby, or just schedule time to catch up with the loved ones you didn’t get to see while you were going through treatment.

Take time to appreciate the little things in life.

1 Year Anniversary of My Breast Cancer Surgery

Mood: Thoughtful 😏

April 23rd was a bittersweet day for me. A year ago on that day, I had my first surgery to remove my breast cancer. 💕 I was so scared to undergo my first surgery. I had never been through surgery before and it was terrifying to think about a surgeon cutting into my breast and removing cancer. My surgeon reassured me that everything would be OK and that if he wasn’t worried, I shouldn’t be worried either. From that day forward I knew that I was in the best hands possible and that he was saving my life from an aggressive and terrible form of breast cancer.

Today it is overwhelming when I think back and remember everything that has happened from the beginning of January 2019 to present day. It is crazy to realize that on April 28th of this year I had my 4th surgery, my 2nd reconstruction surgery; when until I was diagnosed with breast cancer I had never had major surgery before.

I have changed a lot in the past 16 months. They say that you can’t go through a cancer journey without changing both inside and out, and that you will never be the same again. I used to fight that statement early on saying that it would not happen to me, that I was stronger than that. But I realize now that it is very true, I will not be the same again so I am working on doing what I need to do to be happy with myself both inside and out. I have done a lot of research and I am taking specific vitamins that not only help block cancer from developing and growing but that are also beneficial for my immune system, bones and heart. I am also working on trying to undo some of the damage that the chemo treatments did to my skin. I feel like I have aged quite a bit in my face and it really bothers me. I am definitely making some progress now that I have been working on it for quite a few months so I am happy about that.

I look at life very differently now. So many things that used to upset me or make me mad seem trivial and I can get easily irritated when people complain about those trivial things. It is not worth the stress to get all worked up about things that we can’t change or have no control over. I am not saying that I don’t ever complain, just that I try my best to look at disappointments with a different view after living through fighting cancer. Life is not easy and it doesn’t always go the way we want it to but we make adjustments and move on…I know it isn’t always easy to do so, but it’s best for us and those around us.