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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

    My mom was told she has Stage 2 breast cancer today. I'm so worried because she also has diabetes.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 1 answer
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I am so sorry to hear about your Mom's diagnosis but at this point it sounds as if it is early stage. Her team will be very aware of her diabetes and will take that into consideration during her treatment. She should always make sure when she goes in for appointments, she reminds them she is...

      more

      I am so sorry to hear about your Mom's diagnosis but at this point it sounds as if it is early stage. Her team will be very aware of her diabetes and will take that into consideration during her treatment. She should always make sure when she goes in for appointments, she reminds them she is diabetic. It never hurts to make very sure her caregivers are reminded of the drugs she takes and her blood glucose levels each time she goes in for an appointment. She is very lucky to have you to love and care about her as she goes through her treatment. She will be ok. Big hugs, take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Julie Ren Profile

    Can we get breast cancer at a young age?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 13 answers
    • View all 13 answers
    • Amanda Metivier Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      To all you other ladies just diagnosed, please reach out to me if you have any questions. I have completed chemo, and am still doing radiation and heceptin.

      Comment
    • Casey Chernes Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Yes we can! I was just diagnosed on my 29th birthday... And I am finding out there are women even younger than that!

      Comment
  • Shirley Lalonde Profile

    I found out i have breast cancer but is this normal to have weird smell? For about a week now i have been smelling fish and it is really bothering me.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 5 years 3 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had a "phantom smell" of raw chicken that started in an auto dealership (no raw chicken there!) It continued for a few days and disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. I did some research & frankly have no answers as to why it happened. Hope yours goes away too (I felt like I was going nuts,...

      more

      I had a "phantom smell" of raw chicken that started in an auto dealership (no raw chicken there!) It continued for a few days and disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. I did some research & frankly have no answers as to why it happened. Hope yours goes away too (I felt like I was going nuts, but researching phantom smells helped).

      3 comments
    • K G Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Maybe it isn't cancer related-could you have a vaginal infecton???

      4 comments
  • ashley garnica Profile

    When you get a lump on your breast can you move it around ? My mom has it for alone time and she is worried is it bad if she gets a rash on her nipple ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • vicki e Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      A rash like that could be a sign of Paget's disease, a type of bc. She should go to her doctor because that is the only way to rule out a problem. Self diagnosis can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Ashley,
      It is very important for your Mom to get anything that isn't normal in her breast checked out. Putting it off because she is afraid it is going to something awful will not make it go away. If it is --something-- waiting will only make it worse. Most of the lumps and bumps we feel...

      more

      Ashley,
      It is very important for your Mom to get anything that isn't normal in her breast checked out. Putting it off because she is afraid it is going to something awful will not make it go away. If it is --something-- waiting will only make it worse. Most of the lumps and bumps we feel usually turn out to be not breast cancer. The rash worries me. Tell her that it is making YOU WORRY. For YOUR sake, she needs to be checked. You are a wonderful caring daughter. Tell her you love her and want her to be around for a long time.... please go have the lump and rash evaluated by her doctor. Take care, Sharon

      Comment

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