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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

  • anonymous Profile

    Should I be more concerned because I'm scheduled to have ultrasound-guided biopsy AND stereotactic-guided biopsy on 2 areas of my left breast? I'm worried that means my chances are now doubled.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 3 years 2 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      I had the same; one was easier to see with U/S and the other better done stereotactically. Actually the Radiologist captured a piece of the 2nd area not normally seen with U/S during the U/S guided biopsy. It doesn't mean your "chances" are doubled by any means.

      4 comments
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      It is so scary to be face with a biopsy. Be very happy your doctor was proactive! From your point of view, in the area of the biopsy, your breast will be numbed with something similar to what your dentist uses. You will feel a poke, some stinging, to make the area numb. Once that is...

      more

      It is so scary to be face with a biopsy. Be very happy your doctor was proactive! From your point of view, in the area of the biopsy, your breast will be numbed with something similar to what your dentist uses. You will feel a poke, some stinging, to make the area numb. Once that is accomplished, you will feel pressure from the biopsy needle being guided to the proper area. Some cells will be extracted to be sent to a lab. Again from your point of view, the procedure will be the same, it is just the radiologist is using a different method of viewing the suspicious area. You will be told to put ice/cold on the area. You may have some discomfort after the numbness wears off. Follow the aftercare instructions. As far as I am concerned, the waiting for the results is the real torture. Many more of these biopsy's turn out to be non-cancerous. My radiologist told me from the get-go to expect a diagnosis of cancer. She was right. That was 9 years ago, I am healthy an lead a normal life. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      1 comment
  • Laura R Profile

    My mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time. This time it's stage IV and untreatable and they gave her a year to live. What should I expect for death? Slowly in a hospital bed or dying in her sleep?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 5 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Karen G Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      I was just diagnosed Stage 4 this year it spread to liver and lymph nodes. My friend had it in the liver 5 years ago and is still going strong. I definitely recommend getting another Doctors opinion. Also find out if the mets are ER PR and the Her2 status. There are different treatment...

      more

      I was just diagnosed Stage 4 this year it spread to liver and lymph nodes. My friend had it in the liver 5 years ago and is still going strong. I definitely recommend getting another Doctors opinion. Also find out if the mets are ER PR and the Her2 status. There are different treatment options out there.

      1 comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Doctors Do not know when people are going to die I'm in stage iv 4also I'm still here 6years later

      1 comment
  • Parth Parikh Profile

    I have triple negative breast cancer.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 1 answer
    • Ali S Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Me too, at age 31. I'm now cancer free after the summer of chemo, lumpectomy, now radiation just in case. Triple neg usually responds to chemo, mine was nearly gone before my final chemo infusion
      Best wishes

      1 comment
  • gima green Profile

    Did anyone decide not to take Tomoxafin but instead try to get there hormones balanced?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      No. Those of us who are estrogen positive feed the cancer every day. Tamoxifen is needed to help block - not balance, estrogen in our bodies. If you value your life, please reconsider and take it. Prayers to you.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I am not a doctor, and certainly not an oncologist who has spent years and years, learning all about cancer.
      I would never dream of trying to figure out my own way of treatment just because I read something on the internet about the "natural" way of treatment. I had 5 years of hormone...

      more

      I am not a doctor, and certainly not an oncologist who has spent years and years, learning all about cancer.
      I would never dream of trying to figure out my own way of treatment just because I read something on the internet about the "natural" way of treatment. I had 5 years of hormone blocking treatment and took Letrozole. I had horrendous hot flashes but altered my life to make the best of it. The outcome..... I am in year 9 post treatment. I took the poison and all the rest because there is no proven way of alternate treatment. This is the best we have.
      People get wrapped up in the sales job of --snake oil-- on the internet. The stories are fantastical but can they really be proven?
      I am particularly sensitive to this because my best friend tried to go her own way. She died because she refused conventional treatment.
      It is your body, and you can do what you choose. I didn't second guess my oncologist or any of the other specialists I went to. Balancing estrogen.... for an estrogen positive cancer? I am with Marianne.... no estrogen. Good luck, Sharon

      Comment

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