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Breast Cancer

 
Breast Cancer

Chapter: 3 - Breast Cancer

Subchapter: 1 - What is Cancer?

What is Cancer?
Healthy cells are the basic building blocks of all tissue and organs in the body. But when cell DNA (the cell’s wiring) is damaged, mutated cells begin to rapidly reproduce without following the pre-wired plan.

Aggressive cell growth can form a tumor (or mass of tissue) that, like each individual cell, does not function as originally intended. These abnormal cells or groups of cells can progress into the disease known as cancer.

Cancer Origins
Breast cancer usually begins either where the milk is being produced, the lobules, or in the milk ducts.

Lobules
Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS) is a pre-cancerous condition that forms and is contained in the lobules. Invasive lobular carcinoma is a type of cancer that develops and breaks through the lobules, with the potential to spread to other areas of the body.

Milk Ducts
Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) is a type of cancer that forms in the milk ducts and is considered non–invasive because it has not spread to any surrounding tissue. Once the cancer has spread beyond the milk ducts, it is known as ductal carcinoma.

Less frequently, breast cancer can originate in the stromal tissue– the fatty and fibrous connective tissue of the breast.

Prognosis
Treating breast cancer as soon as it’s discovered is very important. If left untreated, the cancer cells may invade healthy breast tissue or lymph nodes. Once in the lymph system, cancer can spread more easily to other parts of the body.

Related Questions

  • Nicole Adams Profile

    Does a mammogram hurt?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I am always concerned when a question is asked about pain levels associated with ANY procedure related to breast cancer and the responses are uniformally rosy or at least, minimal when it comes to reporting pain.
      The real answer is - the pain levels depend on a host of factors and it can vary...

      more

      I am always concerned when a question is asked about pain levels associated with ANY procedure related to breast cancer and the responses are uniformally rosy or at least, minimal when it comes to reporting pain.
      The real answer is - the pain levels depend on a host of factors and it can vary enormously from one women to another. For example, if you have dense breasts and a history of breast pain and sensitivity to having your breasts touched heavily or manipulated, as well as strong hormone related breast pain, then it is feasible that you will find mammograms painful. Further, scientists have recently found that sensitivity to pain is genetically based, so if you are part of the population who have the pain sensitivity genetic make up [you will know who you are as you will have a history of people assuring you X or Y does not hurt much but when you have it, the roof of yor head blasts off with pain - thats when they start calling you a wimp or pathetic or whatever] then your experience more pain than those without the gene.

      I am so sick of the ability to withstand pain being portrayed as a moral virtue when in fact a lot of it is the luck of the draw with genetics.

      I also regularly run into women who actively avoid much needed mammograms because of the pain. I then see scientific studies where resources are poured into answering the question "wh do women avoid having mammograms even when they are free?" One reason they regulary fail to cite is the pain. Yes, pain NOT discomfort.

      I am writing this because I am a breast cancer survivor who not only finds mammograms very painful, I am also one of the 40% of women who developed breast seroma following surgery. A seroma is a fluid filled sac in the breast which in my case although smallish, is also very painful. I have to hold what remains of my right breast if the car goes over a speed hump as breast jiggling is painful.

      I am supposed to have my first post surgery annual mammogram in about 8 weeks.The idea of my scarred breast with a seroma, which already experienced bad pain on mammograms without these features scares the dickens out of me. I had an MRI [which I paid for myself] late last year - zero radiation, zero pain and a far more sensitive test for invasive ie., the most dangerous kind of breast cancer. In my case, due to dense breasts, mammograms are also only around 60% accurate albeit better at detecting non-invasive forms of breast cancer.
      I have now decided I am not going to put up with the pain from mammograms any more. I have therefore written to the centre that will be conducting my annual mammograms for the rest of my life and said I do not consent to having any mammograms done in future without adequate pain relief. I know from experience a local anesthetic injection - which I tolerate well - completely ends all pain. I am also willing to consider trialling a numbing agent like EMLA cream applied an ahour or two before the mammogram and wrapped in saran and/or breathing through one of those pain relief tubes ambulances and paramedics carry with them.
      If anyone reading this has any concerns about the pain involved in having your breasts - with or without surgeyr scars and seromas - squeeed and flattened to one inch thick - then I urge you to contact the mammogaphic service ahead of your appiontment and put it in writing that your consent to the procedure in contingent on being provided with a decent choice of pain relief.
      Do not be held to the standard of the most stoic or tough patient and refuse to be emotionally blackmailed into shutting up and suffering needlessly. The pain relief options I have llisted are cheap, simple and used every minute of every day in all sorts of medical settings, so the side effects are minimal.
      Don't let them get away with hurting you if avoiding being subject to pain is a priority to you. By all means if avoiding or embracing physical pain is acceptable to you - then go ahead without pain relief.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I find them very painful. I had one years ago because a lump was found. I'm small and the area is dense, so all I kept hearing was how little fat I had from the technician to the specialist. I then had to go for an ultrasound anyway because they couldn't really see because of the density. I...

      more

      I find them very painful. I had one years ago because a lump was found. I'm small and the area is dense, so all I kept hearing was how little fat I had from the technician to the specialist. I then had to go for an ultrasound anyway because they couldn't really see because of the density. I ended up with scrapes above and below my breasts and pain for quite a while after.
      I haven't gone again because of the pain, but know that I'm supposed to. If the same thing happens, what's the point? Still the doctor insists on the mammogram. This is not how they would look for testicular cancer and some of us find our breasts just as bad for pain. I think it is barbaric how they have not made this test less painful

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I have tumor of 8mm an is a ductal carcinoma. How bad is this?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 4 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      What has your doctor told you? 8 mm is pretty small and ductal carcinoma means it's a cancer in the duct(s). We aren't doctors but this much I can surmise by working in the past as a Mammographer.

      1 comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Sounds early stage but you need to have consultation with your oncologist. Take a spouse or friend with you to your appointment and have them take notes. You need to ask lots of questions. Take care, Sharon

      4 comments
  • Ginna Taylor-Manuel Profile

    my daughter has stage 4 breast cancer how bad is this

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Chapter 5 on the learn tab(on this web site) has some really good information. It is all about stages. The web site breastcancer.org has wonderful information when I was diagnosed and didn't have a clue about this journey.

      Comment
    • Rita Siomos Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I too had stage 4 and my doc told me it was a good thing because the chemo will work better... I don't know how true that is but I have finished all my treatment know and feel great. God bless xoxo

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Was diagnosed with DCIS a year ago, duct removed along with lymph node. Had my first mammogram. They called me today telling me that they see a density on my pectoral muscle on the other breast. Has anyone been through this and if so how did it turn out?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      I'm sorry, I haven't been through that...and don't have an answer. I can imagine how scary it must be for you. :(. Are they planning on doing more tests such as an MRI or PET scan?

      3 comments
    • Donna Gray Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Was mastectomy a choice for you? I also had DCIS this time last year. It was so easy for me to decide to have one. No more worrying about breast cancer. I had both of my breast removed with reconstruction. No they aren't the same but I can go on living without having chemo or radiation. The best...

      more

      Was mastectomy a choice for you? I also had DCIS this time last year. It was so easy for me to decide to have one. No more worrying about breast cancer. I had both of my breast removed with reconstruction. No they aren't the same but I can go on living without having chemo or radiation. The best of luck to you. God bless.

      1 comment

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