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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

  • Lauralee B Profile

    Just got the call yesterday telling me I have ductal cancer in excised biopsy- now awaiting scheduling for MRI and further Path results - what should I be doing, preparing for?? Any suggestions?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 6 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Calm down, fear of the unknown, and waiting are the hardest part of the treatment. You are on the road to being well. The best thing you can do now is exercise eat a well rounded diet and doing the things that make you the happiest. I threw myself into my work, gardened, rode my horse. Never...

      more

      Calm down, fear of the unknown, and waiting are the hardest part of the treatment. You are on the road to being well. The best thing you can do now is exercise eat a well rounded diet and doing the things that make you the happiest. I threw myself into my work, gardened, rode my horse. Never underestimate the old fashioned bubble bath I would add a glass of wine and some music. God Bless your journey

      2 comments
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Lauralee,
      We all know the fear and terror you are experiencing right now. You have no idea what your future will be. This is pretty much your lowest, most dreadful, dark corner you will find yourself. As time goes along, you will gain more information, about this disease and how you are going...

      more

      Lauralee,
      We all know the fear and terror you are experiencing right now. You have no idea what your future will be. This is pretty much your lowest, most dreadful, dark corner you will find yourself. As time goes along, you will gain more information, about this disease and how you are going to be treated. I can assure you, even with this seemingly dire diagnosis, you will see light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel. You will come back out into the sunshine. Since you had the misfortune to receive this diagnosis, I am sincerely happy you found this group to help you through your treatment. We are all here to support each other. We all understand and are either in active treatment or have been through it. I can already give you some good news.... you have the most common form of breast cancer. You still have some other pieces of your diagnosis to be discovered.... grade, stage, etc. You have found a good, safe, place with us. Right now, you need to be extremely kind to yourself because it's a journey you are about to embark on. You will have a bunch of tests. You will have some or all of the following tests, MRI, CT Scan or PET Scan, Bone Scan, MUGA, and lots of bloodwork. None of these are painful more than a poke with a needle, so please don't stress about them beforehand. Approach this all with a warrior spirit, faith, and a whole lot of humor. I had Invasive ductal carcinoma and was treated 5 years ago. Even though many of us have had a similar diagnosis, each of our cancers are uniquely different. Thankfully, your doctors can tailor your treatment for your particular cancer. We may have had similar teatments but they are different. We will share our experience but it many not be exactly how you are going to react to the seemingly same treatment. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    i found a lump in november, the breast cancer specialist said he was 99% sure it was not cancer. now i found a "dent" above where the lump was. would this have been seen on my last ultrasound? should i be concerned?

    Asked by anonymous

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

      Any changes in your body should be checked out. I would get a second opinion from a doc at another facility. It will ease your mind, too.

      Comment
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      I, too, would seek another opinion. I don't believe "dents" can be seen on U/S, at least I never saw them when I was doing them.

      Comment
  • lisa epstein Profile

    I had stage 1 2.1mm and grade 3, I had a lumpectomy and am er positive nodes neg. and clear margins. What kind of treatment do you think I will need now?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    over 7 years 1 answer
    • Lysa Allison Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I would talk with your doctor but I chose to have radiation after the lumpectomy and am now taking Tamoxifen. I know this is a scary time but I wanted to do everything I could to keep from having another cancer. God bless you and be with you through your journey.

      2 comments
  • Thumb avatar default

    My mother is 69 yrs old. just diagnosed with L breast cancer, pending biopsy. She is resident of USAbut not citizen, DOESN'T HAVE ANY INSURANCE, how can I get her treatment?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I would contact the American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood, and Susan G. Komen Foundation. They would be sources of information for your Mom's treatment.

      Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Vicki Geer Fournier Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I would also contact the state you live in to see if they have sort of plan for women with breast cancer. I live in New Hampshire & New Hampshire & Maine have a "no women be left behind" progam (Breast & Cervical Cancer program). I am on that & once I was diagnosed I automatically was approved...

      more

      I would also contact the state you live in to see if they have sort of plan for women with breast cancer. I live in New Hampshire & New Hampshire & Maine have a "no women be left behind" progam (Breast & Cervical Cancer program). I am on that & once I was diagnosed I automatically was approved for Medicaid (but only for the breast cancer) What a relief it was not to have to worry about the bills. GOOD LUCK!

      Comment

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

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