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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 had a mammogram 9/22/15 and they found a lump they sent me to have a biopsy 10/01/15 its Carcinoma. The dimensions are 2.3/2/1.7 cent. The oncologist is supposed to call me today to make an appointment. What should I expect to happen?

    Asked by anonymous

    over 2 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Arrrgh.... Do not FREAK OUT! My found cancer was also a similar size. Take someone with you to your oncologist's appointment. Have THEM take notes. That appointment your doctor will talk about further testing you need to have done. Testing could consist of gallons of blood, a PET scan, CT...

      more

      Arrrgh.... Do not FREAK OUT! My found cancer was also a similar size. Take someone with you to your oncologist's appointment. Have THEM take notes. That appointment your doctor will talk about further testing you need to have done. Testing could consist of gallons of blood, a PET scan, CT SCAN, MRI, Bone Scan, any or all of these, very common to have. You will be given the type of breast cancer, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma is the most common. You will be given the approximate stage 0-4. Yours is probably a preliminary stage of 2-A or B. After your surgery, your stage could change. You will discuss your options for treatment which COULD consist of a choice between lumpectomy or mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and possibly radiation. This is not saying you will have all of these but they are all possibilities. This is an overwhelming time and will be until you get your final treatment plan and know how you will proceed. Thank goodness your cancer was found at this stage. Breast cancer is NOT a death sentence! Lots of treatments for various types of breast cancer. Hang in there and be sure you take a friend, spouse of relative with you to ALL of your appointments. I would also get a 3 ring binder and request copies of all of your tests you have done. Tape cards from all the offices you visit on the inside cover of the binder. Extra paper for notes taken. Jot down any questions you want to take to the various offices you visit. Have a copy of any drugs you take or allergies you have. Have extra copies to give all the offices you visit. They WILL appreciate that and saves a lot of talk time. Hang in there, you WILL make it. DON'T go on the internet and read stuff.... it will terrify you and it doesn't have anything to do with YOUR cancer. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      I agree with everything Sharon said. I used a breast patient navigator since I had no family in the town I was living in and she used to work at the Oncology Clinic so asked some of my questions for me (ones I hadn't thought of) and was a God-send.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    How can one detect breast cancer early on her own?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 2 answers
    • vicki e Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      Norma is right about following your gut feeling. Four years ago I found a lump and got a mammogram. Nothing showed up on mammo but a biopsy proved my concern was valid. In february of this year I found a lump under my arm that doctor pooh poohed as nothing. I insisted on further testing and had 9...

      more

      Norma is right about following your gut feeling. Four years ago I found a lump and got a mammogram. Nothing showed up on mammo but a biopsy proved my concern was valid. In february of this year I found a lump under my arm that doctor pooh poohed as nothing. I insisted on further testing and had 9 positive nodes removed 2 wks later Listen to your gut and be your own best advocate. It's your body.

      1 comment
    • Norma Johnson Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      You can check your breast often, get mamo when you should and if anything feels funny such as in my case just a funny feeling....let your Dr. Know!

      Comment
  • Traciann brundage Profile

    Diagnosed Wednesday and hematologist said chemo would likely kill me . So double mastectomy it is . And radiation . Did anyone go through therapy also . My doctor asked me to because I am 27 .

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Tiffani Warila Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I agree, I'd get a second opinion. No doctor should ever tell you something "would kill you". I was 29 when I was diagnosed and went through chemo, lumpectomy, radiation and now tamoxifen. There are a lot of factors that go into your treatment plan. Get another opinion before you decide! At...

      more

      I agree, I'd get a second opinion. No doctor should ever tell you something "would kill you". I was 29 when I was diagnosed and went through chemo, lumpectomy, radiation and now tamoxifen. There are a lot of factors that go into your treatment plan. Get another opinion before you decide! At least you will have the peace of mind that you were as to make an informed decision. Best of luck, the ladies on this site are all here for you!

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Traciann, I find the information from the hematologist rather disturbing....no quite disturbing. There are pieces of this conversation that are missing. What type of breast cancer do you have, what stage, what grade, ER+ PR+ or - - ? Do you have an underlying blood disease that you are...

      more

      Traciann, I find the information from the hematologist rather disturbing....no quite disturbing. There are pieces of this conversation that are missing. What type of breast cancer do you have, what stage, what grade, ER+ PR+ or - - ? Do you have an underlying blood disease that you are being treated by a Hematologist? Many factors go into the decision for treatment. Lots of women here have gone through just about everything there is to throw at breast cancer.... Surgery, chemo, radiation, reconstruction... depending on many factors. I went through chemo, and am on a hormone blocking drug. So, there has got to be a reason for a hematologist to make such a definitive statement. When you are going through the diagnosis phase, I always tell people to take a friend along as another pair of ears, and have them take notes. It helps to be reminded of the conversation when "your wheels start falling off the track."
      Hang in there.... we have all been where you are going on many levels. Take care, Sharon SO sorry you joined the club....

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Am getting breast pain during period ,dat time my breast s increases I feel like dat ...is dis breast cancer symptom,

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 2 answers
    • Rikki Leigh Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Wow, sorry, I didn't finish before it threw it right up there.

      As I was saying... Lol... A simple breast examination can be done right in the office by your doctor. They will determine if more testing is needed or if you're perfectly fine.

      Good luck to you!

      Comment
    • Rikki Leigh Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Monthly pain in your breasts is perfectly normal and is caused by hormonal changes. I never had breast pain during menstruation until the last year or two. Now it feels like I have painful water balloons strapped to my chest. It is because as we age, we have many hormonal changes that can...

      more

      Monthly pain in your breasts is perfectly normal and is caused by hormonal changes. I never had breast pain during menstruation until the last year or two. Now it feels like I have painful water balloons strapped to my chest. It is because as we age, we have many hormonal changes that can honestly become bothersome.

      However, I would never want to discourage you from talking to a doctor about your concerns. I encourage that greatly in this case. Sometimes a medical professional can set our mind at ease with a sumpl

      Comment

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