Fungal breast tumor: causes, treatment and management

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A fungal breast tumor is a rare type of advanced cancer that causes ulcers or infection on the skin of the breast or the surrounding area.

A fungal tumor occurs when the mass passes through the skin. It causes an ulcer or sore to appear, which can be leaky, smelly, and painful.

The following article describes what to expect from fungal breast tumors, along with their causes, treatment, and more.

A fungal or ulcerative tumor can occur with several types of cancer, including breast cancer and melanoma. Almost 2-5% locally advanced breast cancers develop a fungal breast sore.

A fungal tumor occurs when cancer cells enter the skin surrounding the breast. Penetration of cancer cells into the skin causes ulcers, skin breakdown and infections.

Primary tumors

Primary tumors develop from breast cancer cells. When a primary tumor becomes ulcerative, it means that breast cancer cells have penetrated the skin and caused lesions or ulcers to appear.

Secondary tumors

A secondary tumor develops from metastasized cancer cells, which have spread from another area of ​​the body.

Research indicates that, in most cases, skin ulceration occurs at larger and more advanced stages of breast cancer. This can include stages 3 or 4 with classifications based on the number of lymph nodes involved and the inflammation associated with the tumor.

However, a study by 2018 contradicts the idea that fungal breast tumors arise exclusively from more advanced tumors.

The researchers note that small tumors can also cause ulcers on the skin. Although they suggest further study, they recommend that physicians do not classify smaller tumors at an advanced stage unless absolutely necessary. This is because smaller tumors often share the characteristics of less advanced cancer.

Fungal or ulcerative tumors can cause a variety of symptoms, in addition to the symptoms that the underlying cancer can cause.

Some common symptoms of ulcerative tumors include:

  • bad smell
  • leak or ooze
  • itching
  • pain
  • warm skin (when infected)

The direct cause of ulceration is that the breast tumor grows to the point where it passes through the skin. Although the tumor can be relatively small, it happens more often with larger tumors.

In some cases, ulceration can occur because the tumor has grown uncontrollably and undetected for several months or years.

Breast cancer is one of the few types of cancer that typically cause the appearance of ulcerative sores. Others can include head, neck, or skin cancer. What they have in common is that they are all relatively similar cancers to the skin.

Early detection of a tumor can be helpful. This can eliminate the complication of the tumor becoming fungal in the first place.

After the tumor breaks the skin, treatment concentrates to:

  • treat the tumor
  • manage the pain
  • caring for the wound to prevent infection
  • provide psychological and social support

Wound Care: Prevention of Leaks and Bleeds

Caring for ulcers or sores can help prevent leaks, bleeding, and some pain. Although studies stress the importance of wound care, most of these studies are neither large nor exhaustive.

A person should follow their doctor’s recommendations on when to change their dressing and what to use to wrap their wound.

In some cases, a person may find that using a barrier cream can help prevent the leakage from irritating the skin around the wound.

A person should be careful when changing their dressing. When they change the dressing, they can accidentally cause bleeding. Some dressings are better suited to stop bleeding, such as those that turn into gel when bleeding occurs.

Unpleasant odor

An unpleasant smell is a common symptom that can cause emotional distress or discomfort. There are several ways to potentially control an odor, including:

  • using a bandage or bandage that can help reduce odor
  • keeping the wound free from infection by using antibiotic ointments
  • using odor neutralizers and other fresh-smelling scents to help mask the smell

Pain

The pain can come directly from the tumor or from the bandages used to cover the wound. When it comes to bandages, a person can try different adhesives or types of bandages to see if it helps.

When the pain comes from the tumor, a doctor may recommend pain relievers that can be taken safely for a long time.

Itching

Itching is a common symptom of fungal breast tumors. Treatment for itching may include:

Keep the dressings in place

Bandages may not always be placed correctly. It may also be difficult for a person to find the correct size and shape of dressing to use.

A person can ask their doctor for recommendations as well as samples to try in order to find the most suitable dressing. Doctors can also refer people to:

  • wound care nurses
  • wound care clinics
  • help from home caregivers with wound care

It is not always possible to prevent the appearance of a fungal tumor. However, early detection and treatment of a tumor can help.

In general, the larger the tumor, the more more likely it is penetrating the skin and causing ulceration.

However, even small tumors may cause ulceration. A person should consider having regular screenings and talking to their doctor about any unusual masses.

People with breast cancer should talk to their doctor about when to start screening for breast cancer.

There are several recommendations regarding when people should start having mammograms and how often they should continue to have them.

Most sources recommend testing once every 1-2 years from 40 years old for people at high risk and 50 years old for people at medium risk. However, a person should speak with their doctor about their individualized risk and work with them to create an individual breast cancer screening plan.

A person should also talk to their doctor if they find a lump or other abnormalities on their breast. A doctor can then help diagnose and treat the person as needed.

People with fungal breast cancer or other types of breast cancer are not alone. People living with the disease may feel embarrassed, scared or stressed.

In some cases, contacting and joining a support group can be helpful. Support groups come in a variety of types and styles, from face-to-face meetings to phone or web groups.

A person’s family can also find support groups to help them cope.

Some potential resources include:

Fungal or ulcerative breast tumors cause lesions or ulcers to appear on the skin or around the breast.

This happens when the tumor penetrates the skin and can cause pain, itching, oozing, and bad odor. Treatment often focuses on reducing the size of the tumor as well as reducing the severity of symptoms.


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