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Diagnosis

 
Diagnosis

Chapter: 4 - Diagnosis

Subchapter: 1 - Causes of Breast Cancer

Causes of Breast Cancer

- What if it’s cancer?
- What caused it?
- What should I do now?
- How is breast cancer treated?
- How long will treatment take?
- What will it be like?
- Will I be okay?
- What about my family?

When a lump or suspicious site in your breast is detected, it raises some serious questions. In this chapter, we are going to do our best to answer them. We will discuss what doctors know and do not know, how to react to your diagnosis as well as how to understand it, and how to move beyond the shock.

Risk Factors
So what do scientists actually know about the causes of cancer? It’s a difficult question. Cancer grows when a cell’s DNA is damaged, which we discussed in Chapter 3, but why or how that DNA becomes damaged is still unknown. It could be genetic or environmental, or in most cases a combination of the two. But most patients will never know exactly what caused their cancer.

However, there are certain established risk factors that are associated with breast cancer:

- A family history with breast cancer
- Early menstruation (before age 12)
- Late menopause (after 55)
- Breast tissue that is more dense with lobular and ductal tissue relative to fatty tissue
- Noncancerous cell abnormalities

These factors are genetic, they are not something you can control.

60-70% of people with breast cancer have no connection to them at all, and other people with risk factors will never develop cancer.

Related Questions

  • Thumb avatar default

    I don't understand what breast cancer is.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      This is from Breastcancer.org.

      Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. To better understand breast cancer, it helps to understand how any cancer can develop.

      Cancer occurs as a result of mutations, or abnormal changes, in the genes responsible for regulating the growth of...

      more

      This is from Breastcancer.org.

      Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. To better understand breast cancer, it helps to understand how any cancer can develop.

      Cancer occurs as a result of mutations, or abnormal changes, in the genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy. The genes are in each cell’s nucleus, which acts as the “control room” of each cell. Normally, the cells in our bodies replace themselves through an orderly process of cell growth: healthy new cells take over as old ones die out. But over time, mutations can “turn on” certain genes and “turn off” others in a cell. That changed cell gains the ability to keep dividing without control or order, producing more cells just like it and forming a tumor.

      A tumor can be benign (not dangerous to health) or malignant (has the potential to be dangerous). Benign tumors are not considered cancerous: their cells are close to normal in appearance, they grow slowly, and they do not invade nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are cancerous. Left unchecked, malignant cells eventually can spread beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body.

      The term “breast cancer” refers to a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. Usually breast cancer either begins in the cells of the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands, or the ducts, the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple. Less commonly, breast cancer can begin in the stromal tissues, which include the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast.

      Over time, cancer cells can invade nearby healthy breast tissue and make their way into the underarm lymph nodes, small organs that filter out foreign substances in the body. If cancer cells get into the lymph nodes, they then have a pathway into other parts of the body. The breast cancer’s stage refers to how far the cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumor (see Stages of Breast Cancer table for more information).

      Breast cancer is always caused by a genetic abnormality (a “mistake” in the genetic material). However, only 5-10% of cancers are due to an abnormality inherited from your mother or father. About 90% of breast cancers are due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and the “wear and tear” of life in general.

      Comment
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      It's a plague that kills way to many people. 1 in 8 women will be touched by breast cancer. I don't know how many men are affected wvery year. It's mazing what you can tolerate when your life is on the line. My montra is "my canceris pink but my will is iron."

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I was just diagnosed with estrogen testosterone+ breast cancr. What can you tell me about?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 4 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Mary,
      Simply... it means your cancer feeds off of hormones. Did you get your Her2 status.... is it + or -
      After treatment, you will probably be prescribed a hormone blocking drug. I was ER+ PR+
      Her2- After my treatment, I was prescribed a hormone blocking drug to take for 5 years.
      If you are...

      more

      Mary,
      Simply... it means your cancer feeds off of hormones. Did you get your Her2 status.... is it + or -
      After treatment, you will probably be prescribed a hormone blocking drug. I was ER+ PR+
      Her2- After my treatment, I was prescribed a hormone blocking drug to take for 5 years.
      If you are premenopausal it will be Tamoxifin. If you are post menopausal, it will be a drug like Letrozole.
      Your treatment depends on what type of breast cancer you have, what stage, and what grade. Treatment will consist of a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone treatment. I had surgery, chemotherapy and hormone treatment. There is not a one standard treatment for all breast cancers. The treatments are "targeted" depending on many factors. That's why we can't tell you what you are going to have. You will have a bunch of tests CAT scan, bone scan, MRI, PET Scan, etc. Not all of them, but some of those.
      You can learn a lot right on this site. Keep in touch with us. We have all "been there, done that" and are living good lives. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Do you mean estrogen-progesterone+ breast cancer? Testosterone is found in males not females. What has your doctor told you? Since I was estrogen/progesterone+ after my surgery and treatments I'm taking an Estrogen blocker. They vary depending on if you're pre or post menopausal. Other parts...

      more

      Do you mean estrogen-progesterone+ breast cancer? Testosterone is found in males not females. What has your doctor told you? Since I was estrogen/progesterone+ after my surgery and treatments I'm taking an Estrogen blocker. They vary depending on if you're pre or post menopausal. Other parts of the body can produce estrogen besides ovaries.

      3 comments
  • Thumb avatar default

    I am 29 years old, have been breastfeeding my baby for 1 year and 7 months. Every now and again I get blocked ducts , is there any reason for this and should I be worried of dcis?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 4 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      We are all about breast cancer here and thankfully, your doctor was conscientious enough to check you out as completely as he did. You should talk to your doctor about this problem and kiss your sweet baby, thankfully, you don't have breast cancer! Take care, Sharon

      2 comments
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      As you know, your hormones are going all haywire right now after a pregnancy & breast feeding. It could be that your milk is starting to dry up. I'm glad your Dr did the mammo to reassure you and will stay on top of it. Prayers to you.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I have a rather large lump in my left breast. I do not have any health insurance nor can I afford any. (am scared) What should I do?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 7 years 3 answers
    • Surf  Momma Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      You need to look into how to get a free mammogram or go to a free clinic. There are resources. Don't let this go.

      I am a three month survivor

      1 comment
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2006

      Please check with your local County Welfare Department and inquire about medical benefits. Explain your situation if they tell you that can't assist you request to speak to a supervisor or Director and ask it they can refer you to a local free clinic or hospital. Please do not ignore the lump....

      more

      Please check with your local County Welfare Department and inquire about medical benefits. Explain your situation if they tell you that can't assist you request to speak to a supervisor or Director and ask it they can refer you to a local free clinic or hospital. Please do not ignore the lump. Continue to be proactive by seeking out medical care. Stay encouraged and know that I will be praying for you.
      Love and Blessings
      A Sister Of Hope

      Comment

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Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in their lifetime.

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