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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

  • Evelyn Heilbrunn Profile

    I'd like to hear from those who are BRCA2+ . Fears? Concerns? Changes in lifestyle? Diet? Exercise? Doc recommendations?? Post-surgery and tx. What now?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2012
    about 7 years 3 answers
    • melissa perlman Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I'm brca 2 pos. had no family history. Did a double mastectomy with reconstruction. Full hysterectomy 6 weeks ago. Before surgery, I ate extremely healthy, went to boot camp 4 days a week and ran 5k races. It obviously didn't help. You can't fight genetics. I still eat well and have started...

      more

      I'm brca 2 pos. had no family history. Did a double mastectomy with reconstruction. Full hysterectomy 6 weeks ago. Before surgery, I ate extremely healthy, went to boot camp 4 days a week and ran 5k races. It obviously didn't help. You can't fight genetics. I still eat well and have started running again. You need to live your life. I removed all potential cancer receptacles that I was advised to, and I would do it again. Treat your body well, that's all anyone can do.

      Comment
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I'm BRCA2 positive. My main fear is that my 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters will have to deal with this horrible disease. I recently completed my chemo after bilateral mastectomy. Next step is having my ovaries out to prevent cancer there. I have also changed my diet and am planning on...

      more

      I'm BRCA2 positive. My main fear is that my 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters will have to deal with this horrible disease. I recently completed my chemo after bilateral mastectomy. Next step is having my ovaries out to prevent cancer there. I have also changed my diet and am planning on beginning an exercise program. Good luck to you.

      2 comments
  • Carolyn Todd Profile

    Hi I'm just wondering if a sentinel lymph node biopsy is always recommend for diagnosis or if it's only recommend if they feel the cancer has spread?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      They will do some sort of lymph node testing. My surgeon opted to remove 8 of mine (thought she had taken 6), all were negative. My breast patient navigator asked her something during my pre op appointment and if I heard things correctly she isn't comfortable doing a SLNB so does it the way...

      more

      They will do some sort of lymph node testing. My surgeon opted to remove 8 of mine (thought she had taken 6), all were negative. My breast patient navigator asked her something during my pre op appointment and if I heard things correctly she isn't comfortable doing a SLNB so does it the way they used to do it. She had said they looked OK on my MRI and would look once she was in but still took 8.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I had 5 sentinel nodes removed when I had a mastectomy. On inspection during the surgery, if they had looked cancerous, she would have taken more out of my armpit. They looked normal but, in fact, the complete pathology report came back with a micro amount of cancer cells. My stage was...

      more

      I had 5 sentinel nodes removed when I had a mastectomy. On inspection during the surgery, if they had looked cancerous, she would have taken more out of my armpit. They looked normal but, in fact, the complete pathology report came back with a micro amount of cancer cells. My stage was downgraded from a 2A to a 2B. My treatment was not changed. I had 4 rounds of AC chemotherapy and 5 years of hormone blocking therapy. I am now 9 years from treatment and feeling great. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Carol Musick Profile

    I have a red looking bruise on my breast. It has been there for three or four months. Today it looks like it is spreading around like a spinder web. Is it something I need to worry about

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 3 answers
    • L S Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I would go see a Dr. better safe then sorry!

      Comment
    • Cheryl Wornham Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Ya I would go see your dr. Just to be on the safe side

      Comment
  • Louise Kania Profile

    what is low grade cancer

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 3 answers
    • Life is Good! Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Tumor grade is based on how the tumor looks and how fast it grows. Low grade is slower growing. They use numbers... 1 is low grade, slow growing, 2 is a little faster and 3 is fast growing.

      http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/cell_grade

      Keep the questions coming. We are here for...

      more

      Tumor grade is based on how the tumor looks and how fast it grows. Low grade is slower growing. They use numbers... 1 is low grade, slow growing, 2 is a little faster and 3 is fast growing.

      http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/cell_grade

      Keep the questions coming. We are here for you!

      Comment
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Good answers here. The earlier the cancer is found, the better. Prayers to you.

      Comment

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