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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

  • Sharon Danielson Profile

    I had regular mammograms and 7 months after my mammogram I found a lump. At that last mammogram appointment, I also had an ultrasound. When it was diagnosed, it was over 2CM and staged 2B IDC with a positive lymph node.

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2007
    over 7 years 1 answer
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I was just diagnosed a couple of weeks ago after finding the lump myself during a self exam. I had just had my yearly mammogram 2 months earlier and they told me "Everything looks good see you in a year!" The oncologist said this lump could have been growning for several years and the mammograms...

      more

      I was just diagnosed a couple of weeks ago after finding the lump myself during a self exam. I had just had my yearly mammogram 2 months earlier and they told me "Everything looks good see you in a year!" The oncologist said this lump could have been growning for several years and the mammograms didn't pick it up, but the ultrasound did and the MRI with contrast did also. I'm not sure a mammogram is enough anymore from what I hear on many of the tumors.

      2 comments
  • Andrea Kay Profile

    How does someone become a recipient of a free mammogram?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Andrea,

      I was able to "google" and find the health department in a woman's small town for a free mammogram. Since this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month it should be relatively easy to find an organization that will fund the payment for a mammogram. You can check with the American Cancer...

      more

      Andrea,

      I was able to "google" and find the health department in a woman's small town for a free mammogram. Since this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month it should be relatively easy to find an organization that will fund the payment for a mammogram. You can check with the American Cancer Society, a Public Health Department in your city or county, Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen Org. I just googled FREE MAMMOGRAMS... this is what I came up with... there were many.
      Take care, Sharon
      http://voices.yahoo.com/where-free-mammogram-5009612.html?cat=5

      Comment
    • Traciann brundage Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      My mom called her local hospital and told them what was going on with me and she had no insurance . She filled out a few forms and it was only 20 dollars for her .

      Comment
  • Carla Victor-rawson Profile

    My lumpectomy scar is 7 weeks old and ands hard and a bit lumpy, is this normal?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Jk Joyce Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I have the same problem. I had first surgery in feb and second one in march. The onc says it is scar tissue and I just had a mammo last week and the radiologist said it is scar tissue too. It is very tender and I hate feeling it in there. I wouldn't even know if I had a cancerous lump with all...

      more

      I have the same problem. I had first surgery in feb and second one in march. The onc says it is scar tissue and I just had a mammo last week and the radiologist said it is scar tissue too. It is very tender and I hate feeling it in there. I wouldn't even know if I had a cancerous lump with all that in there.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Carla,
      It is scar tissue and will flatten out in a few months. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • sylvia clark Profile

    Hi, I got diagnosed breast cancer a month ago. I have gone through tons of tests, but no PET SCAN.. Should I ask for one? I have surgery next week, but I have not yet met the oncologist.. Should I be concered?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      My treatment started in 2006 so I also had a ton of tests pre-surgery. I had a CT-Scan instead of a PET Scan, a MUGA, Bone Scan, MRI. I did meet the Oncologist before I had surgery. It was a really miserable time mentally for me. It all happened so fast and it was frightening to me. I had so...

      more

      My treatment started in 2006 so I also had a ton of tests pre-surgery. I had a CT-Scan instead of a PET Scan, a MUGA, Bone Scan, MRI. I did meet the Oncologist before I had surgery. It was a really miserable time mentally for me. It all happened so fast and it was frightening to me. I had so many questions and as the tests came back my treatment plan became more clear. If I were you, I would talk to your surgeon or oncologist about why you are not receiving a PET scan. They may not feel you need it as they have the pre-diagnostics that are needed for you specific case. Treatment is now very specific and no two women are treated the same way. It all depends on the specific cells that make up your tumor.

      This is the type of situation you are going in to you need to ask questions and have an answer that will put your mind to rest. Don't be the least bit shy about speaking up about anything. You are going to be your own best advocate. I was able to save myself a second horrific reaction to a medication because the oncologist's office had made a mistake on my chemo "recipe." The infusion nurse and I got into a discussion because she was blowing off my concern. Turns out, I was right, she was wrong. She said, "It's a good thing you were so insistant." (duh...) So... start learning to speak up.... be respectful, but ask your questions. Good luck, I hope you hang out on this board... there are wonderful caring women on this site.

      3 comments
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Sylvia. I was given a PET scan prior to the beginning of my treatment, but I had chemo first, then my bilateral mastectomy. I'm not sure it that has anything to do with it or not. I would certainly ask the reasoning behind that decision. You mentioned that you haven't met with your oncologist...

      more

      Hi Sylvia. I was given a PET scan prior to the beginning of my treatment, but I had chemo first, then my bilateral mastectomy. I'm not sure it that has anything to do with it or not. I would certainly ask the reasoning behind that decision. You mentioned that you haven't met with your oncologist yet. Do you mean your surgical oncologist (who performs your surgery) or your medical oncologist (who performs your chemo)? If its your surgical oncologist, he/she should be meeting with you soon to discuss the procedure & answer any questions you might have. I would definitely call their office & find out what's going on.

      Comment

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