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Blood clot in the breast or otherwise referred to in medical terminology as "breast hematoma" can be caused due to various reasons.
Breast hematoma happens when there is bleeding within the breast tissues which cause a collection of blood to be formed. The prime reasons because of which this could happen are trauma after a sports injury or a car accident. A hard bump to a weak blood vessel can also cause hematoma.
Sometimes, clots could also develop after a breast surgery may be due to breast cancer. Hematomas can also happen after cosmetic surgical procedures, such breast reduction or augmentation surgeries with implants.
Identifying Breast Hematoma
The presence of a bruise form of colour tends to make hematomas quite visible. A small hematoma (blood clot) in the breast could be just the size of a small cherry. A medium size blood clot could be about the size of a plum. A large breast blood clot could be as big as a grapefruit (they tend to elongate to form the shape of a banana).
Detecting hematomas usually require getting a mammogram done. The mammogram results would show up mass-like substance.
People At Risk Of Blood Clots In The Breast
People who have had breast cancer are at a higher risk of having blood clots. The treatments of cancer along with the presence of cancer itself are what make the chances of blood clots happening more higher. If breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, then this too could increase the chances of blood clot occurrence.
Although blood clots are harmful, they can be treated. Hence, you need to approach your doctor immediately once you begin to see any signs or symptoms.
Symptoms Of Blood Clots
If you see any of the below-mentioned signs or symptoms, it indicates that you would need to contact your health care practitioner for a checkup at the earliest.
• Unexplained cough (sometimes coughing up blood)
• Shortness of breath
• Chest tightness
• Pain, heat, swelling, and redness (discolouration) of the leg, thigh, and calf.
• Swelling or tenderness in the central line that had been inserted to administer chemotherapy - this could be in the arm, near the neck, or the chest area.
Blood Clot Occurrence
Apart from the general blood clotting that we are aware of - which happens when we have an injury and blood clots to stop the bleeding, there are other forms and reasons for blood clotting as well.
Clots can form inside arteries or veins. A clot can also break loose from where it was actually formed to some other part of the body. A blood clot is considered harmful when it begins to create blockage for a blood vessel which eventually stops the blood flow to some part of the body.
People With Cancer Posses Higher Risk Of Dealing With Blood Clots
People identified with cancer possess substances known as clotting factors and platelets in higher numbers. These substances are responsible for stopping any form of bleeding by clotting the blood.
When these substances are in higher numbers than normal, then the chances of blood clotting more than normal is high. People with cancer might also have low levels of protein that keep their blood thin. This also indicates that there are more chances of a blood clot forming.
Cancer Treatments That Increase The Chances Of Blood Clot Occurrence
A person undergoing treatment for breast cancer is likely to be at a higher risk of having to face blood clot issues. This is because of the cancer treatment that includes:
• Hormone therapy: Tamoxifen
• Targeted therapy: Bevacizumab
When a cancer patient undergoes chemotherapy, the cells are destroyed. This could result in the release of a substance that can cause clotting of blood.
Surgical procedures, along with chemotherapy, for cancer patients, are likely to damage the walls of blood vessels. This further increases the risk of developing a blood clot.
For a cancer patient a long intravenous line (a central line) is inserted into a large vein - for chemotherapy and administration of other drugs. There are chances that a blood clot can form in the vein at the tip of the line. However, there are drugs that can help in preventing this form of clots from occurring.
Cancer can also cause inactivity. A cancer patient feels weak that can make him or her less active physically. Inactivity has been associated with the formation of blood clots.
Factors That Can Increase The Risk Of Blood Clot Development
• Being overweight
• History of blood clots
• Heart disease and diabetes
Blood Clot Treatment And Prevention
Blood clotting treatment involves use of drugs that thin the blood (anticoagulants). Initially, this is administered in the form of injection. Slowly, it could be converted to tablets. These tablets are mostly recommended for a month long usage. You would also need to undergo regular blood tests during this period.
In order to prevent blood clots from occurring, especially if you have a history of blood clots, take short walks often. Doing simple exercises also help. Keep yourself well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Hematomas hurt quite a lot and make your skin feel tight. Your breasts appear swollen and hard. Small hematomas are not worrisome as they mostly resolve on their own. Medium-sized ones take about a month or so to resolve completely. Large ones need medical intervention and should be drained.