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The Symptoms of Metastatic and Recurrent Cancer

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According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer becomes metastatic when cancer cells spread from the place where the cancer started to other parts of the body.

When cancer spreads, the metastatic cancer has the same type of cells and the same name as the primary tumor. Symptoms of metastatic cancer can vary depending on the location of the cancer. Many women have no symptoms at all which is why metastatic and recurrent breast cancer is sometimes found before signs even starts occurring – through x-ray or even through other medical tests.

Remember that symptoms vary depending on the location and advancement of the disease.

If the area affected is the breast or chest wall, your symptoms may be:

Lump or thickening in your breast or under your arm
Changes in size or shape of your breast
Changes in the skin of your breast or chest wall
Chest wall pain
Discharge from your nipple

If the area affected is the bones, especially the back, hips or sternum, your symptoms may be:

Decreased alertness from high calcium levels

If the area affected is the lungs, your symptoms may be:

Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
Chest wall pain
Extreme fatigue

If the area affected is the liver, your symptoms may be:

Extreme fatigue
Increased abdominal girth
Fluid collection (edema) in your feet and legs
Yellowing or itching of the skin

If the area affected is the brain or spinal cord, your symptoms may be:

Memory loss
Blurred or double vision
Change in how your skin senses touch, pain or any other physical feeling
Trouble speaking or understanding speech
Trouble standing, moving or walking

Recurrent breast cancer is cancer that recurs in the same area.

Symptoms may range from:

Lump or thickening in the breast, chest wall or armpit after you have had breast-conserving surgery or a mastectomy
Change in the look and feel of the skin of your chest
Change in the size or shape of the breast
Dimple or pucker in the skin of breast
Discharge or bleeding from the nipple that occurs without squeezing the nipple

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.