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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

  • terri mongomery Profile

    What is stage 1b cancer, and if I take chemo willi loss my hair?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 3 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      the hard answer is yes. I haven't heard of anyone that has gotten around what is the hardest part of treatment. I don't think anyone disagree with me. You are choosing a life saving treatment but the side effects are not nice but doable. The week before I stated chemo I cut my hair really short....

      more

      the hard answer is yes. I haven't heard of anyone that has gotten around what is the hardest part of treatment. I don't think anyone disagree with me. You are choosing a life saving treatment but the side effects are not nice but doable. The week before I stated chemo I cut my hair really short. I thought it would make me feel better. I also went and got a wig (my insurance paid for it with a prescription) before my first chemo. My hair started coming out about two weeks after my first chemo. I think it is a little different for everyone. It started coming out in clumps. I went to my hairdresser, after hours, she shaved and cried, I cried, my husband cried. Then she put the wig on trimmed it up and it wasn't to bad. We dried our eyes, and and my husband took me for a drink. Over that drink he told me I was beautiful and we can beat this. YOU can beat this!!! I am sorry you have to join our club but we are all here anytime you need a pat on the back.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Terri,

      It is difficult to say much because there are so many variables. Without any more information, such as type, stage, size of tumor, it is difficult to say what you are facing. Again, if you have chemo. depending on the type, you will lose your hair. It will start falling out at about...

      more

      Terri,

      It is difficult to say much because there are so many variables. Without any more information, such as type, stage, size of tumor, it is difficult to say what you are facing. Again, if you have chemo. depending on the type, you will lose your hair. It will start falling out at about the two week point. Breast cancer is treated in a variety of ways... with surgery, either a lumpectomy, or a mastectomy, then with or without radiation, chemotherapy and depending if the tumor is estrogen/progenterone positive, there is a possibility of a hormone blocking drug you take for at least 5 years. (this does not affect hair growth). Right now a woman is usually in total shock. There is still much to be learned about your individual cancer cells. Every woman's treatment is different because it will be set up to her particular cell type of breast cancer. So when women write and ask what type of treatment they are going to have, we don't really know. Personally, I think this is the most frightening time because you are stuck for a while between knowing you have breast cancer and finding out what your treatment will be. You will probably be having a bunch of tests, such as MRI, PET, CT, Muga, Bone Scan's, plus lots of blood drawn. Your breast cancer sounds like an early stage and THAT is something to celebrate. Whatever your treatment ends up being.... you WILL make it. We have all been on the same path.... just different branches here and there. We are sorry you have joined --the club-- it's one we don't care to add members to. Please keep in touch with us here, we are very glad to help in any way we can. Hang in there and take care, you will get through this. Sharon

      Comment
  • Asma Boubekri Profile

    My mom found a 4cm lump in her breast. Do you think it's cancer? (keep her in your prayers please)

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 1 answer
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Asma, finding a lump can be very scary. Lumps can be cancerous or non-cancerous. Every lump should be checked out ASAP. Has your Mom been to her Dr? If not, make sure she goes and have all the proper tests done. Eighty percent of lumps end up being benign but they should always be checked out...

      more

      Hi Asma, finding a lump can be very scary. Lumps can be cancerous or non-cancerous. Every lump should be checked out ASAP. Has your Mom been to her Dr? If not, make sure she goes and have all the proper tests done. Eighty percent of lumps end up being benign but they should always be checked out soon! Early detection is key!! I pray that your Mom will be o.k. Hugs

      7 comments
  • Thumb avatar default

    I'm 30 and waiting on the results of a core biopsy and have a three year old and an 11 week old baby. how will I cope looking after my babies if I have cancer and need treatment? Has anyone been in this situation?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      After reading your comments about family. My chemo mate had 2 children 2&4. Somehow we get the strength to do what we need to do. I depended on my faith. My husband was my angel he was with me every step of the way. This should be time of joy play with your babies that will give you your reason...

      more

      After reading your comments about family. My chemo mate had 2 children 2&4. Somehow we get the strength to do what we need to do. I depended on my faith. My husband was my angel he was with me every step of the way. This should be time of joy play with your babies that will give you your reason to find the strength. God Bless your journey and positive thoughts flowing

      Comment
    • Trisha Muller Quinn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2014

      Ok. Take a breath ... A bisopy doesn't mean Cancer .... It results may show fatty tissue or a non cancerous mass .... Don't work your self and family into a state until you get the tests back ... As the stress will affect your babies !!!.... We know of know of what your feeling ,On this site...

      more

      Ok. Take a breath ... A bisopy doesn't mean Cancer .... It results may show fatty tissue or a non cancerous mass .... Don't work your self and family into a state until you get the tests back ... As the stress will affect your babies !!!.... We know of know of what your feeling ,On this site ....But even if the results came back positive.... The treatments are do able with help from family and friends .. Even through I'm older than you but have survived losing both boobs and chemo and radiation ... My journey started this time last year .... I now feel strong and well .... So there is life after the "C" word is spoken !!! .... So try to relax and enjoy your beautiful babies for many many years to come ... Good luck

      1 comment
  • shirley graham Profile

    if my great grandmother died of breast cancer does that mean i will get it

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      No, it doesn't mean you will get it. I had no family history that I'm aware of and got it. It's not always genetic and a great grandmother wouldn't be a first degree relative perse.

      Comment
    • Mary Navarro Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      It depends on a lot of factors.it can also be any kind of cancer. Take the gene test.

      Comment

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

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