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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
    almost 7 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
  • christina cappa Profile

    If diagnosed with Stage 1 cancer, what kind of surgery should I expect?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Yashmira Devine Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Hi Christina,
      I was diagnosed in August, I had a bilateral mastectomy, no chemo, no rads, lymph nodes were negative, and have been recommended for tamoxifen for 5 years. Sharon is right, everyone is different so your treatment recommendations will be different.
      Good luck to you and remember to...

      more

      Hi Christina,
      I was diagnosed in August, I had a bilateral mastectomy, no chemo, no rads, lymph nodes were negative, and have been recommended for tamoxifen for 5 years. Sharon is right, everyone is different so your treatment recommendations will be different.
      Good luck to you and remember to rely on family and friends for help, support, literally. Have someone go with you to your doctor appointments, there is SO MUCH info that is being given to you, you have questions and you may go numb and forget to ask them. The person that goes with you should possibly have a notebook to write down all the info so that you can absorb it better when you are home.
      Again, GOOD LUCK.
      Yashmira

      Comment
    • Jk Joyce Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I had a lumpectomy and 16 radiation treatments. No lymph involvement so no chemo.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Hi everyone, I'v been reading on this site almost everyday since about Sept. You don't know how much help it was just reading everyones post during these last 8 wks. I hope that maybe God will Bless me to be a light & help to someone else. Love & Prayers

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    about 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Jacquie B Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      It's a scary journey, this site make it an easier one. Lots of love here.

      1 comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Kim,
      My mentor is my best friend, Georgia who used to run a breast cancer diagnostic center. When I was diagnosed, she was so positive and the gifts of reassurance she gave me during my treatment was like having my own personal living angel. I wanted to pass on the gifts of love and help she...

      more

      Kim,
      My mentor is my best friend, Georgia who used to run a breast cancer diagnostic center. When I was diagnosed, she was so positive and the gifts of reassurance she gave me during my treatment was like having my own personal living angel. I wanted to pass on the gifts of love and help she gave me. I know the terror I felt and want to hopefully help take some of the fear away for other women. I love this forum and the women here are fabulous. I want only to give the gift of hope. Take care, Sharon

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    After completing masectomy radiation and chemotherapy, should there be CT PET scan done?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years Answer

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