Fungated breast cancer: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Fungated breast cancer is not talked about enough, probably because it is a rare type of cancer. The fungated breast cancer is a progressive form of breast cancer that causes wounds and infections. 

Fungated breast cancer can grow from cancer cells (primary) or can occur due to cancer spreading to another part of the body through the lymph nodes (secondary).

A fungated tumor happens due to a mass breaking through the skin, causing an ulcer or festering wound to appear. This fungated tumor on the breast often smells, festers, and causes excruciating pain. 

What exactly is fungated breast cancer? 

A fungated cancer occurs when cancer cells penetrate the skin surrounding the breast. These cancer cells cause the breakdown of the skin, ulcers, and even infections. The fungated cancer will often manifest in 2-5% of advanced breast cancer and cause a fungated sore. 

According to research, the sore resulting from fungated cancer occurs in the later and advanced stages of breast cancer, often during the third and fourth stage of cancer, with the criteria for classification being the number of lymph nodes involved and the swelling of the tumor. 

This same research provides more information on fungated breast cancer, citing that fungated cancer can also spring from small tumors and not necessarily advanced-stage cancer.

What causes fungated breast cancer? 

The most common cause of fungated breast cancer is that cancer cells develop rapidly, and the tumor grows to the extent that it breaks through the skin and causes a sore (an ulcer). 

It often happens when the tumor is not detected on time and grows without detection and control over a long time, usually a few years. The fungated breast cancer will typically occur in women with advanced breast cancer, usually because of cancer’s size and proximity to the skin. 

What are the symptoms of fungated cancer? 

Fungated cancer shows itself through several symptoms. These symptoms manifest alongside the signs that the cancer cells or malignant tumor may also display. The most common symptoms of breast cancer include:

Pain

The affected breast becomes very painful as a result of the tumor and wound it creates. This pain can be very extreme and often requires medication. 

Leaking or oozing

The affected breast develops a sore which festers and can lead to discharges. The wound may also bleed often.

Odour 

Fungated cancer due to the leak and ulcer can cause an unpleasant smell that is embarrassing to the patient. 

Itchiness 

The affected breast is often itchy and would not go with a regular scratch. This itch usually requires medical intervention and recommendations. 

Warm skin when infected 

The skin around the affected area becomes warm and pale.

How can fungated cancer be treated? 

If the tumor is not detected on time and has broken the skin to become a fungated cancer, treatment will be centered on:

Managing the tumor 

Managing the tumor or malignant growth is the first step towards the treatment of fungated breast cancer. Experts first try to control and stop cancer development, which has led to fungated breast cancer. 

Stopping the growth will avail the doctors of the avenue to concentrate on and treat the ulcer. 

Managing the pain

Fungated breast cancer comes with excruciating pain, which might be frustrating and unbearable if not correctly managed. Proper care of the wound is the first step towards managing pain. 

Doctors also prescribe medicines that the patient can use over time without adverse effects. 

Treating the wound to avoid spreading and preventing infection

Proper management and care for the sore will go a long way to ease the patient’s pain and prevent bleeding and festering. 

Professionals advise how to dress the wound, the types of bandages to use and how often you should change the dressing. Doctors also recommend special gels and barrier creams to prevent the wound from festering and affecting its skin. 

Offering psychological support 

Fungated breast cancer could cause patients to live in constant fear and embarrassment. It could shatter their self-confidence and negatively affect their mental health. 

The doctor provides recommendations on the lifestyle and diet of the patient with a guide to doing them right.

Doctors help the patient and family with support and encouragement. The doctors also advise the patient to see a professional and join support groups to assist the patient’s journey. 

Note that fungated breast cancer wounds will rarely heal completely. Treatment administered will only help slow the spread and reduce the wound but will not cure or heal the wound completely. 

The focus is to manage the ulcer and improve symptoms.

Women are often advised to examine their breasts for tumors or abnormal growths at home from time to time by gently squeezing the breast and trying to detect any irregular growth or change in the shape or size of the breast. Routine medical checks and mammograms are also recommended for aging women. 

Early detection of any tumor or irregularity in the breast is crucial for treating such a tumor. It may reduce the chances of cancer becoming fungated. 

Preventing fungated breast cancer

Awareness and enlightenment about the disease remain the best possible way of preventing it. Health organizations in various countries, especially developing countries, should prioritize educating people on breast cancer and fungated breast cancer. 

Women should be advised to screen themselves for breast cancer more often to facilitate early detection of any tumor. 

High-risk women (women from families with a history of cancer) are advised to get mammograms once every one to two years when they reach age 40. Average risk women are advised to get a mammogram once every two years when they reach age 40.

You should discuss lumps and other abnormalities discovered with a health professional for quick diagnoses and treatment.

Conclusion

Fungated breast cancer is real and, as you can tell from this article, is an unpleasant experience. As a woman, take the precautionary steps above by examining your breasts from time to time. If you notice any anomaly, consult your doctor immediately. Early detection helps with treatment.