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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

  • Sandra Kocher Profile

    her2/neu positive , invasive ductal carcinoma

    Asked by anonymous

    Patient
    about 5 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Evelyn Heilbrunn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Just diagnosed, Sandra? What stage are you? Do you have a treatment plan?

      3 comments
    • Kansas Girl  Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Me too! Stage 1.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    d dimer test values- does anyone know a website where I can read up on the normal to abnormal values for the d-dimer test. Thank you

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    over 4 years 1 answer
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      This has to do with blood clots, not breast cancer specifically. Are you having problems with tamoxifen and clotting? Here is an article. You can "Google" your question too. Take care, Sharon

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21847593

      2 comments
  • Cortney Young Profile

    tumor grades2&3 My her2 test came back pos 3+, pos for est receps 89%, and pos proest 78%,& Ki-67 40%, & my pathology report stated that its matastic I have Invasive&DCIS Cancer Stage? positive for nurerous lymphocytes.Scared

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 5 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Courtney,
      Well that's quite the pathology report!!! I wouldn't be shy about asking for an appointment with your surgeon, oncologist,or patient advocat to get a translation. Not understanding a complicated pathology report (and they are ALL tough to wade through)
      brings on more fear. We are...

      more

      Courtney,
      Well that's quite the pathology report!!! I wouldn't be shy about asking for an appointment with your surgeon, oncologist,or patient advocat to get a translation. Not understanding a complicated pathology report (and they are ALL tough to wade through)
      brings on more fear. We are not pathologists, we are patients and we need information sbout what this all means. When I got the pathologist report, my dear, sweet, surgeon with the hands of an artist and the wings of an angel, (I really loved her) I didn't leave until I understood it all. You need the same kind of time and understanding with your report. I truly think more women's fear could be calmed with just a bit of time and understanding. Taking away the terror and fear and replacing it with HOPE should be a huge part of a treatment plan. Just my two cents, always freely given. I was lucky enough to have a friend who used to run a breast treatment center. Her gift to me was the translation, and a boatload of hope. It took me from the darkness of terror, into the light of hope and positive thoughts and feelings. Hang in there darlin' you ask for what you need from your care team. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Karen G Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      I have the same diagnosis. I am not Her 2 positive though. I have 4 more Taxol treatments left out of 16 and then I will need more surgery as they didn't get clear margins followed by radiation therapy. My biopsy showed that I was a stage 1 and it didn't get to my lymph nodes but after my...

      more

      I have the same diagnosis. I am not Her 2 positive though. I have 4 more Taxol treatments left out of 16 and then I will need more surgery as they didn't get clear margins followed by radiation therapy. My biopsy showed that I was a stage 1 and it didn't get to my lymph nodes but after my lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy I was upped to a Stage 2a. I had 2 positive nodes out of 19. Although Chemo isn't easy it is doable and hopefully won't be as bad as you think it is. Be strong and keep positive thoughts.

      Comment
  • stephen mc gowan Profile

    My wife Fiona has breast cancer which has spread to three areas of her liver .i would like to know if anyone had this and survived . The doctor says she maybe has two years . She has had three chemo sessions , and is doing great

    Asked by anonymous

    Family Member or Loved One
    almost 5 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Stephen,
      I like to be realistic but I also wouldn't put a time limit on any woman. This is serious but none of us know.... even doctor's, how long we have on Earth. We do have women here who have been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. They are being treated and are still taking part in...

      more

      Stephen,
      I like to be realistic but I also wouldn't put a time limit on any woman. This is serious but none of us know.... even doctor's, how long we have on Earth. We do have women here who have been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. They are being treated and are still taking part in our discussions. Increasingly, metastatic breast cancer is being treated as a chronic disease. As long as there is life, there is hope. All the better Fiona is doing so well with her chemo. treatments. My question would not be, "How long do I have" but "Well, what are we going to do?" I think those of us with breast cancer get plenty of bad news and horrible thoughts we manufacture in our own minds. What we need is some shining hope out there for us to reach for. God's blessings to you and your dear Fiona. Take care, Sharon

      1 comment
    • P G Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 3C Patient

      Well said Sharon! Prayers to you Stephen and your Fiona! Hugs, Pazit

      1 comment

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