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Fungating Breast Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

Breast cancer can be accompanied by many symptoms, while some of them are bearable there are a significant amount of symptoms that can affect self-esteem and life quality. Fungating breast cancer is one of them because it is a type of ulcer it can cause disfigurement and a foul smell.

So is there a treatment for it? At what stage of cancer do these ulcers form? We are here to answer every question you have in mind. Continue reading to find out.


More on breast cancer:


fungating breast cancer

What is fungating breast cancer (ulcer cancer)?

Breast cancer could bring different types of infections on the tissue, and fungating breast cancer is one of them. Fungating breast cancer is a rare yet advanced type of cancer that is only seen in 2-5% percent of breast cancers.

This disease forms an ulcerating tumor on the skin of the breast. Cancer cells in surrounding tissues of the breast grow and invade surrounding tissue. Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer yet also it is the most common in terms of developing an ulcerating tumor. This type of tumor causes the skin to break down and creates a foul smell. They are also painful and can cause disfigurement of the breast.

What does fungating breast cancer look like?

Breast cancer that has spread into the skin of the breast and appears "fungating" or ulcerated is referred to as fungating breast cancer. The cancer cells generally penetrate the skin, resulting in a noticeable lump or growth that can hurt and smell bad.


Although the appearance of fungating breast cancer can vary, it often takes the form of a large, ulcerated lump with wavy edges that frequently oozes, bleeds, or discharges. Cancer cells may appear to be infiltrating neighboring tissues, and the skin around the tumor may be red, puffy, or irritated.


Fungating breast cancer is a symptom that the disease has progressed and probably spread to other body organs. It's crucial to be checked out if you detect any changes in your breast tissue, such as lumps, pimples, or variations in the tone or texture of your skin.


The likelihood of a favorable outcome can be improved by early identification and treatment.


Why do fungating tumors smell?

A bad stench may come from fungating tumors, especially fungating breast cancer, as a result of the bacterial proliferation and tissue disintegration. As the malignant tissue spreads and penetrates the skin, it may become contaminated and foster an environment that is favorable to the growth of bacteria. This may result in the creation of offensive compounds such volatile fatty acids, which add to the foul smell.


The smell of fungating tumors may also be brought on by the release of specific chemicals and gases produced by cancer cells, in addition to bacterial development. These compounds may aid in tissue degradation and the emergence of necrosis, or tissue death, which may worsen the odor.


Fungating tumors can also produce an excessive amount of discharge or fluid buildup, which can intensify the odor. Even though the smell that fungating tumors produce might be upsetting, it's crucial to get help as soon as you can to stop the cancer from growing and get treatment for any related infections or consequences.


How does fungating breast cancer start?

Breast cancer, including fungating breast cancer, typically starts when cells in the breast tissue begin to grow abnormally and form a mass or lump. While the exact cause of breast cancer is not fully understood, certain factors can increase the risk of developing the disease. These risk factors include:

  1. Age: The risk of breast cancer increases as a person gets older.

  2. Family history: Women with a family history of breast cancer may be at a higher risk.

  3. Hormonal factors: Exposure to estrogen over long periods of time, including early menstruation and late menopause, may increase the risk.

  4. Lifestyle factors: Smoking, alcohol consumption, and a lack of physical activity may also increase the risk.

  5. Genetic mutations: Inherited mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

Once breast cancer cells have formed a mass or lump, they can potentially grow into nearby tissues, including the skin. This can lead to the development of fungating breast cancer. Fungating breast cancer is a sign that the cancer has reached an advanced stage and requires prompt medical attention.

What are the causes of fungating breast cancer?

Like most types of breast cancer, the exact cause of fungating breast cancer. But by knowing the risk factors you can do lifestyle changes to avoid breast cancer and have the awareness to get an early diagnosis If you are suspecting of breast cancer.

These risk factors are:

  • Age

  • Genetics (Inheriting BRCA1, BRCA2 genes)

  • Family history

  • Hormonal factors

  • Obesity

  • Alcohol consumption


fungating breast cancer symptoms

What are the symptoms of fungating breast cancer?

Fungating breast cancer is hard to miss. While most of its signs are clearly visible it is accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, and anemia.

1. Pain in the breast

Since fungating breast cancer causes a leaking scar, it can cause pain in the ulcer area.

2. Leaking from the fungating breast wounds

Leaking is also known as discharge from the scarred area. This leaking can be easily identifiable since it isn't a white or clear liquid but a cloudy one often times with yellowish color. This leaking can come from the breast itself but often times it can come out from the nipple.

3. Itchiness

Itchiness or pruritus can be a symptom of fungating breast cancer. The ulcer caused by this disease causes itchiness differently than skin rash or eczema. Itching the scar is not advised since it can make it worse.

4. Warm skin

Warm skin is an advanced symptom of fungating breast cancer, it is accompanied by redness and itching.

5. Bad odor

The leakage that comes out from the scarred area of fungating breast cancer can have a foul odor. Often times this symptom affects self-esteem because it makes people feel like they are not clean.

It is advised for you get the help of a psychologist alongside your regular doctor. As we all know breast cancer is a hard journey that can affect mental health.


fungating breast cancer cure

Can fungating breast cancer be cured?

Unfortunately, fungating breast cancer is not curable at this moment but there are ways to increase the comfort and ease the daily lives of a patient.


What stage is ulcerating breast cancer?

Breast cancer that is fungating or ulcerating is regarded as being at an advanced stage of the disease. The amount of the disease or advanced cancer of left breast that's metastasis to other bodily areas determines whether it is categorized as stage 3 or stage 4 breast cancer.


Stage 3 breast cancer has not yet migrated to distant organs or tissues, but it has already spread to local lymph nodes. Stage 4 breast cancer, commonly referred to as metastatic breast cancer, denotes the spread of the disease to organs other than the breast and adjacent lymph nodes, such as the bones, lungs, liver, or brain.


Fungating breast cancer is a symptom of adjacent skin tissue invasion by cancer cells, a warning that the disease has most likely proceeded to an advanced stage. Advanced breast cancer is frequently treated with a combination of surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and/or targeted therapy, with the aim of managing the cancer and maximizing patient survival.


If you observe any abnormalities in your breast tissue, such as lumps, bumps, or changes in the texture or color of your skin, it is crucial to get medical assistance and clinical breast examination right away. Early identification and treatment can improve results and raise the likelihood of a successful course of action.

What are the treatment options for fungating breast cancer?

Since it isn't curable the goal becomes the treatment of this advanced breast cancer is to slow the growth and spread of the primary tumor. This is usually done via surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

The point of the surgery is to remove the main tumor and any affected lymph nodes. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are used to try to shrink the tumor and slow its growth.

fungating breast cancer

Am I at risk of developing a fungating tumor?

If you have breast cancer you have a risk of developing a fungating tumor but in some cases, this possibility is higher. These risk factors are:

  • Having an advanced stage of cancer, which means cancer has spread to other parts of the body

  • A history of breast cancer, people who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to get a fungating tumor

  • The presence of a fungus in the breast.

  • Some genetic mutations, like BRCA1 and BRCA2, may make you more likely to get a fungating tumor.

  • Cancer can be harder to beat if your immune system is weak or if you have another health problem.

Don't worry just because you have these risk factors it does not mean that you will develop it for certain. Still, it would be best for you to get in touch with your doctor.

How long can you live with fungating breast cancer?

The survival rate for people with fungating breast cancer can depend from person to person. The most important thing is how much their cancer has spread. 53% of people with fungating breast cancer lived without getting sick for five years, but 58% of people in the same situation didn't. After five years, 75% of the people with ulcers were still alive, while 84% of the people without ulcers were still alive.

Studies show that skin ulcers don't seem to have a big effect on survival rates if cancer can be treated. But of course, this doesn't include people with more advanced cancers.


fungating breast cancer early diagnosis

Fungating tumor care

Care for a patient with a fungating tumor, especially in cases of breast cancer, is based on the specific needs of the patient and the severity of the malignancy. Therapy choices might be:


Treatment for people with fungating tumors must include pain control since these tumors can be extremely painful and uncomfortable. To control pain, patients may use opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), and other painkillers.


  • Care for open wounds: Fungating tumors can cause skin wounds that need to be carefully managed and dressed in order to avoid infection and encourage healing. To keep the wound clean and clear of infection, specialized wound care may be required.


  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy can be used to lessen pain and other side effects while also helping to decrease the tumor. Patients with fungating tumors from breast cancer may benefit from this therapy in particular.


  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can be used to shrink the tumor and limit the proliferation of cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used with this therapy or used alone.


  • Surgery: In some circumstances, removing the tumor and surrounding tissue may be a possibility. Those with locally advanced breast cancer may find surgical treatment for this to be especially useful.


  • Palliative care: For patients with fungating tumors, palliative treatment can reduce symptoms and enhance quality of life. Pain management, emotional support, and aid with everyday tasks may all be a part of this sort of care.


Patients with fungating tumors must collaborate closely with their medical professionals to create a specialized treatment regimen that takes into account each of their unique requirements and preferences. To give these patients thorough treatment and support, a team approach medical care involving oncologists, experts in wound care, and palliative care providers may be required.


Can a fungating mass be benign?

Breast lumps that are fungating breast tumors might be benign or cancerous. Malignant tumors are carcinogenic and have the potential to spread to other organs or tissues, whereas benign tumors are not cancerous and do not spread to other areas of the body.


Infection, inflammation, or a benign fungating breast tumor such a fibroadenoma are only a few of the possible causes of benign fungating tumors in the breast. These masses may also lead to skin breakdown and ulceration, giving the appearance of fungus.


While not being cancerous and not posing the same health hazards as a malignant tumor, a benign fungating mass can nevertheless be uncomfortable and may need medical treatment. Antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to treat a benign fungal tumor in order to alleviate pain and speed up recovery.


If you notice any changes in your breast tissue, such as lumps, bumps, or changes in the texture or color of your skin, it's crucial to contact a doctor. Early identification and treatment can help establish whether the tumor is benign or malignant and help you choose the most appropriate course of action.



What is metastatic breast cancer?

Breast cancer that has progressed to the bones, liver, lungs, brain, or other organs is referred to as metastatic breast cancer, sometimes referred to as advanced or stage 4 breast cancer. This particular kind disease progression of breast cancer is treated as a chronic illness and is thought to be incurable.


Breast cancer spreads to other regions of the body when cancerous cells separate from the main large breast tumor ulceration and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system. After cancer cells have spread to blood vessels or other tissues or organs, they may continue to develop and create new tumors, harming those areas.


Depending on where and how big the secondary tumors are, there can be a wide range of symptoms of metastatic breast cancer. Bone pain, shortness of breath, headaches, seizures, jaundice, and swelling in the extremities or abdomen are a few of the most typical symptoms.


A combination of systemic medicines, such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy, are frequently used to treat metastatic breast cancer because they can slow the growth and spread of the cancer cells. Another crucial part of treatment is palliative care, which focuses on controlling symptoms and enhancing quality of life.


While therapy cannot cure metastatic breast cancer, it can help the patient live longer and have a better quality of life. The most effective strategy to lower the risk of getting metastatic breast cancer is by early identification and treatment of breast cancer, before it has a chance to spread.


What are the symptoms of end stage metastatic breast cancer?

The location and size of breast mass and the secondary tumors, as well as the person's general health and other medical problems, can all affect the symptoms of end-stage metastatic breast cancer. The following are some typical signs of metastatic breast cancer in its last stages:


Pain that is extremely difficult to treat with medicines might occur as the cancer spreads to other places of the body.


Cancer-related tiredness is a common and incapacitating sign of metastatic breast cancer.


  • When the cancer gets worse, this condition may result in both unintended weight loss and lack of appetite.


  • If the cancer has advanced to the lungs, it may result in wheezing, coughing, and trouble breathing.


  • Brain cancer can produce neurological symptoms including headaches, seizures, and disorientation if it has progressed to the brain.


  • Fractures and bone pain are also possible effects of metastatic breast cancer on the bones.


  • Fluid accumulation in the chest or belly, as well as swelling in the arms or legs, are all possible effects of metastatic breast cancer.


  • Metastatic breast cancer can lead to skin changes, such as a reddish, scaly rash on the breast or a yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).


If you encounter any of these symptoms, it's crucial to contact a doctor very once, especially if you have a history of breast cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment of metastatic breast cancer can help patients better control their symptoms, live longer, and have better quality of life.


Locally advanced breast cancers

Breast cancer that has progressed to neighboring tissues and organs in the chest region, in addition to the breast and associated lymph nodes, is referred to as locally advanced breast cancer. Although the breast cancer is still in an advanced stage, it has not yet spread to other regions of the body.


Stage 3 breast cancer is commonly used to describe locally progressed breast cancer. The cancer may be inflammatory, a rare and severe kind of breast cancer that produces redness, swelling, and warmth in the breast tissue, or invasive, indicating that it has moved beyond the breast ducts and lobules.


Large or hard breast lumps, thickening or dimpling of the skin, inversion or discharge of the nipple, and enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit right breast, or collarbone are all signs of locally advanced breast cancer.


In addition to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, hormone therapy or targeted therapy may also be used in the treatment of locally advanced breast cancer, depending on the particulars of the cancer. The aim of treatment is to reduce the size of the tumor, stop it from growing, and stop the cancer from returning.


The greatest method to improve outcomes and lower the risk of major problems with advanced cancer is early identification and treatment of breast cancer, before it has a chance to become locally progressed or metastatic breast cancer. Mammograms, other screening procedures, and routine breast examinations are crucial for the early diagnosis of breast cancer.


What are the final stages of metastatic breast cancer?

The terminal stages of metastatic breast cancer, sometimes referred to as stage 4 breast cancer, can be challenging for patients and their loved ones. Excruciating pain, cancer-related weariness, appetite loss, weight loss, shortness of breath, neurological issues, bone stiffness and fractures, swelling, and skin changes are some common symptoms and physical changes that can occur in the latter stages of the disease.


When the condition worsens, it could become more difficult to manage these symptoms and maintain quality of life. To help reduce pain and other symptoms as well as to provide the patient and their loved ones with emotional support during this difficult time, hospice care may be recommended.

Early Diagnosis

In these cases early diagnosis is key. But how you may be asking yourself. With the help of Triwi of course. Triwi is a smart bra that plays the role of a guide when you are doing your monthly self-checks. It makes that time of the month both easy and fun. Triwi even helps you to record your findings which makes it easy for your doctor to diagnose you.


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