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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 just had a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. My doctor said he is over 95% certain I have cancer. Is it normal to be able to tell just from mammogram and ultrasound? Does that mean I have a large tumor?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Drs. trained in reading studies can usually tell by the films they look at but the only way to see what it truly is is to do a biopsy.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I, too, was told "Expect the biopsy to come back as breast cancer." Many times, the shape and density, of the suspicious area is telling. My tumor was a very weird shape, it was very hard, and felt lumpy. It was not at all like other lumps I had felt in my breasts. I knew, the second I found...

      more

      I, too, was told "Expect the biopsy to come back as breast cancer." Many times, the shape and density, of the suspicious area is telling. My tumor was a very weird shape, it was very hard, and felt lumpy. It was not at all like other lumps I had felt in my breasts. I knew, the second I found it, it was bad. Doctors who look at hundreds and hundreds of lumps each and every day can tell a lump that is classic for breast cancer. There are also time when they can be wrong and that is why a biopsy is needed to confirm their suspicions. There are so many treatments for breast cancers, it is not the death sentence it once was. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Ari Bayliss  Profile

    What about the rest of my lymph nodes (chest, other arm...)? My double mastectomy was July 7th. The surgeon took out 30 lymph nodes, 12 came back cancerous. What does this mean for the rest of my lymph system?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 2 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      That is a doctor question. My guess is chemo will be next.

      Comment
    • Trisha Muller Quinn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2014

      Lymph system will still work .. But you have to take great care with your arm .. Don't lift heavy item , garden with gloves , no BP or blood tests on this arm .. And you may have to wear compression sleeve and learn how to massage your arm to help drain the fluid... You may need to see a OT ...

      more

      Lymph system will still work .. But you have to take great care with your arm .. Don't lift heavy item , garden with gloves , no BP or blood tests on this arm .. And you may have to wear compression sleeve and learn how to massage your arm to help drain the fluid... You may need to see a OT book them through your doctor. My arm was great till about 1 year after surgery , int asthma played up and I was given medication which made my arm ..fill with fluid ... 12 mths on wearing sleeve , massage still bigger than other arm especially in summer .. And I live in Australia, so it's always hot !!! .. Take care it all does works out ::))🎀🎀

      Comment
  • Trent Fullmer Profile

    What happens after a breast cancer diagnosis?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 1 answer
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Morning Trent,

      After a breast cancer diagnosis it's like a whirl wind. So many things to think about. The choices, the procedures, your life....Where do you start....What do I need to do next?...What will my future hold? ...Those were the questions on my mind as I dealt with my diagnosis... I...

      more

      Morning Trent,

      After a breast cancer diagnosis it's like a whirl wind. So many things to think about. The choices, the procedures, your life....Where do you start....What do I need to do next?...What will my future hold? ...Those were the questions on my mind as I dealt with my diagnosis... I was totally lost so much to think about and frustrated because in 2003 breast cancer was still a hush hush thing amongst women. No one really wanted to share their experience especially those in my family. Because of that I wrote my experience out and have it on the web at http://home.roadrunner.com/~amj I take you from my initial abnormal mammogram, the biopsy, surgery and recovery period, with a reflection a year later.

      My breast cancer diagnosis may be different from others with different choices but I wrote it from a nurse and a patients perspective. To help other women and their family to help them through it. What to expect with each procedure, the recovery and discomforts and most of all there is light at the end of the tunnel.

      Most important is to talk to doctors, take a loved one with you. Two ears are better then one. Get a second or third opinion. If reconstruction is part of your course of treatment see a plastic surgeon before your initial surgery. Hear all your options and choices, before you make a decision. Research your type of cancer know what is available...Be your own advicate in your care...only you know what is best for you... My doctor had told me if you go to an oncologist he will suggest medicine/radiation, if you go to a surgeon he will suggest surgery, So you need to talk to both and hopefully they will talk to each other with your best interest in mind. A doctor will only suggest what they are comfortable, knowledgeable and trained to do. A good doctor will tell you that up front and give you names of other doctors or facilities that maybe able to treat you with more advanced techniques.

      Take care and May God Bless

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Should I be concerned about a 9mm cyst or cluster of cyst on left breast with calcifications seen ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 11 answers
    • View all 11 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I believe a second opinion would ease your mind. It would mine. Most insurance companies cover second opinions. Best wishes, jayme

      Comment
    • Lysa Allison Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had the same thing and when they did the biopsy, it was DCIS. You have so many more options when it is diagnosed early. My advice- get a biopsy. Best of luck to you.

      1 comment

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