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Breast Cancer, Metastatic or Recurrent - Symptoms

The symptoms of metastatic and recurrent breast cancer depend on how much the cancer has spread. Some women have symptoms, but many women don't.

Recurrent breast cancer

Cancer that recurs in the same breast or in your mastectomy scar is called a local recurrence. With local recurrence, you may have symptoms such as:

  • A lump or thickening in the breast, chest wall, or armpit after you have had breast-conserving surgery or a mastectomy. You may notice that the skin of your chest looks or feels different.
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast or a dimple or pucker in the skin of the breast.
  • Discharge or bleeding from the nipple that occurs without squeezing the nipple.
  • A change in the nipple, such as a scaly or crusty look or a nipple that draws inward.

Cancer that recurs in another part of your body, such as your lungs, is called distant recurrence. With distant recurrence, you may have some of the same symptoms as metastatic breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer

Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer will depend on the area affected and how far your breast cancer has spread. For example:

  • If your bones are affected, you may have bone pain. And your bones may break more easily.
  • If your lungs are affected, you may be short of breath.
  • If your liver is affected, you may have swelling in your belly or yellow, itchy skin.
  • If cancer spreads to your brain, you may have confusion, changes in your vision, or seizures.

Inflammatory breast cancer

Symptoms such as changes in the skin of the breast or the nipple may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer camera.gif. For more information, see the topic Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 22, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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