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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

    what if ultrasound shows nothing but mammogram does

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      This is not uncommon to have one test show something and another show nothing. You should keep investigating this until it is proven to be NOTHING. I was mis-diagnosed for 7 months until I could feel a lump and by then it was a much larger cancer that had spread to a lymph node. As scary as it...

      more

      This is not uncommon to have one test show something and another show nothing. You should keep investigating this until it is proven to be NOTHING. I was mis-diagnosed for 7 months until I could feel a lump and by then it was a much larger cancer that had spread to a lymph node. As scary as it is to keep pushing, it is much better to find out what those clumps of cells are by means of a biopsy. Just trying to share my personal experience and what I learned. Take care, Sharon

      3 comments
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      What actually did they tell you? When I worked in Mammography at times something could be seen on the mammo. but not the U/S. Sometimes tissue can overlap on a mammo. and makes it look like a mass so an U/S is ordered &/or additional views are done to clarify it. In my case they saw 2...

      more

      What actually did they tell you? When I worked in Mammography at times something could be seen on the mammo. but not the U/S. Sometimes tissue can overlap on a mammo. and makes it look like a mass so an U/S is ordered &/or additional views are done to clarify it. In my case they saw 2 different things, right next to each other. One area was best seen on U/S and the other with additional images. The Radiologist told me he ordered the U/S of the one area and if it could be seen that way it needed a biopsy and doing it with U/S guidance would be the easist for me and cheaper. He actually captured a small part of the other area too, but we biopsied it with a stereotactic unit. Has he recommended any other studies or did he said come back in say 6 months unless things change?

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Found a lump in breast,breast clinic had mammogram then ultrasound core biopsy and fna, lady who did ultra sound and biopsy said it looked serious and said the word cancer, then consultant appointed me a McMillan nurse and he mentioned malignant.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Welcome to our world. When I felt my lump, it felt bad. The doctor who did my biopsy told me to expect a malignant outcome....which was just the way it turned out. OK so that was the bad news. The good, is I went through treatment almost seven years ago and I am alive, healthy and cancer...

      more

      Welcome to our world. When I felt my lump, it felt bad. The doctor who did my biopsy told me to expect a malignant outcome....which was just the way it turned out. OK so that was the bad news. The good, is I went through treatment almost seven years ago and I am alive, healthy and cancer free. We can all tell you there is life after breast cancer. Stay with us here, we can share our experiences with you. If this does turn out to be cancer, there is a lot of treatment and as scary as it is, there is a lot worse things out there hang in there and take care, Sharon

      1 comment
    • Lou Cam Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Much like you and Sharon D, right from the start, my lump was believed to be invasive cancer. Your oncologist , or other doctor, will go over biopsy results with you. If you do have bc, a treatment plan will be made for you, based on your individual situation. I know I felt better just having...

      more

      Much like you and Sharon D, right from the start, my lump was believed to be invasive cancer. Your oncologist , or other doctor, will go over biopsy results with you. If you do have bc, a treatment plan will be made for you, based on your individual situation. I know I felt better just having a plan of action to follow. Try to take someone with you when your doctor goes over the pathology report with you. That will help you remember what questions to ask, and to help remember what was said.

      1 comment
  • Friday Sosibo Profile

    #Urgent_question...how quickly breast cancer spreads?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Brandi Mixon Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Unfortunately, we can't answer this question. There are so many different types of BC and they all have different ways they act. It would be best to contact your doctor for this type of question. God Bless.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Friday,

      Brandi is right. With every type of breast cancer it depends on many factors as to how aggressive the cells are. If you or a loved one is having a lump or other types of changes in breast tissue, they should have it checked immediately. Breast cancer is a very treatable disease when...

      more

      Friday,

      Brandi is right. With every type of breast cancer it depends on many factors as to how aggressive the cells are. If you or a loved one is having a lump or other types of changes in breast tissue, they should have it checked immediately. Breast cancer is a very treatable disease when caught in early stages. It would be a shame to let it go to a point when the treatment has to be a lot more intensive. The diagnosis of breast cancer is not a death sentence! There are many, many, women who are alive and living perfectly wonderful lives after being treated for breast cancer. The key is getting to the doctor and having your breasts checked if you feel a lump or have other symptoms happening. . Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Does Taxol work for HER2 negative, ER positive cancer?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • julie s Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      I did TAC and had a complete response! (Tumor entirely gone- NED- no evidence if disease!) Keep a positive attitude and stay optimistic...I'm convinced this played a big part in my results!

      Comment
    • Karen G Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Yes I was told it does. I am on the AC portion of the AC-T and I am Er HER2 -.

      Comment

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