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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

  • Thumb avatar default

    Which doctors are highly rated in their practice for breast reconstruction?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Paul smith in Tampa was recommended.

      Comment
    • Traciann brundage Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      You can find out each state by a rating . Call the insurance commision office .

      Comment
  • nancy  wilcox Profile

    I really want to know what Sharon, Diana, and Marianne think.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • K G Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Well I am not one of these three people, but I am an ICU nurse and am a survivor of breast cancer. The nurse used the word "probably" because she has probably seen a preliminary report. Was she reading those words from a piece of paper, was it your nurse, or was she the one doing the MRI, was...

      more

      Well I am not one of these three people, but I am an ICU nurse and am a survivor of breast cancer. The nurse used the word "probably" because she has probably seen a preliminary report. Was she reading those words from a piece of paper, was it your nurse, or was she the one doing the MRI, was she just talking to you and used those words? Sometimes as nurses we use words that we dont realize will have such a big impact on people. I learned that being a patient myself. Like "it will be ok", "quick little pinch", " probably". That nurse doesnt have the final result so she cant say that it is 100 percent negative, but she can say what she said to you to give you reassurance that it is probably negative with no mets. Although it ended up not being very reassuring to you. I guess to sum up-try not to focus on her words over the weekend. It will make you miserable. Remain positive and try to enjoy your weekend. Waiting is the hardest part, I know. I always told my caregivers-dont tell me "your going to be ok", tell me "your going to do great". I wish nothing but the best for you.

      1 comment
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Nancy, I agree with the ladies. It's a preliminary report....that's true. But not knowing and having to wait on the final results are terrifying. I'm so glad you decided to do the MRI. It is so much more accurate than a mammogram or ultrasound! I know from experience. I'm with Sharon...I have...

      more

      Hi Nancy, I agree with the ladies. It's a preliminary report....that's true. But not knowing and having to wait on the final results are terrifying. I'm so glad you decided to do the MRI. It is so much more accurate than a mammogram or ultrasound! I know from experience. I'm with Sharon...I have a good feeling about the results. I know how difficult it is. But try to do things this weekend that you enjoy doing. Monday will be here soon. You will be in my thoughts & prayers Nancy. Lots of hopeful hugs!!!! Diana

      2 comments
  • vicky kayley Profile

    Hi I was diagnosed 3 weeks ago with invasive breast cancer. I'm having a mastectomy on the 28th then get results the Tuesday after. How long after surgery do you start chemo?

    Asked by anonymous

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

      Hi Vicky, I'm sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed last May with invasive breast cancer as well. It's such a shock when you're first diagnosed. It's a lot to process. It helps so much to talk to other women who have gone through the same thing. Not happy for the reason...

      more

      Hi Vicky, I'm sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed last May with invasive breast cancer as well. It's such a shock when you're first diagnosed. It's a lot to process. It helps so much to talk to other women who have gone through the same thing. Not happy for the reason you're here....but glad you found us. :). Some women have their surgery first...then chemo. And other women have their chemo prior to their surgery. It depends on many factors such as size of tumor, stage, etc. I had chemo first to try & shrink the size of my tumor. I had my mastectomy 3 weeks after my last chemo treatment. Then I had more chemo 3 weeks after my surgery. But that doesn't happen too often. :). As Sharon said...when you get your path results back and have a set game plan, you'll feel much more in control. The time period could be anywhere from 3 weeks after your surgery on. Depending on your Onc. They'll probably want to do a port. You'll be so glad you did in the long run. It's so much easier in every way! I think the emotional aspect for me has been harder than the physical aspect. Just know you're not alone. Surround yourself with positive people. No "basement" people allowed! :). You're going to have "down" days. And that's ok. Cry when you need to. I'm a very positive person. But it's just normal and to be expected for you to be sad sometimes. Anyone that can be positive 24/7 doesn't have both oars in the water. ;). Read uplifting survivor stories. And there's a lot of them! My fav books are "chicken soup for breast cancer survivors", & "there's no place like hope" by Vickie Gerard. Plus you can key up a lot online. That kept me going. And we'll be here for you!!! There is a light at the end of the tunnel Vicky. I had stage 3C when I was diagnosed last may. I had 13 positive lymph nodes, two had broken outside the node, & a place in my chest wall. After chemo, surgery, then more chemo...now I have 6 more radiation treatments left. I am happy to tell you that my last PET scan showed no cancer!!!! I feel truly blessed! If you need any mastectomy tips...let me know. Much love & hugs

      2 comments
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Hi Vicky, I wish you hadn't joined "our club". It is typical for treatment of breast cancer, to be different for nearly every patient. Lots of us have had the same diagnosis but in the big picture, treatment depends on microscopic findings by the pathologist. There is no set amount time for...

      more

      Hi Vicky, I wish you hadn't joined "our club". It is typical for treatment of breast cancer, to be different for nearly every patient. Lots of us have had the same diagnosis but in the big picture, treatment depends on microscopic findings by the pathologist. There is no set amount time for patients chemo. treatments to start. Have you had a consultation with an oncologist and if so, you can call him or her and ask the question? They will usually talk to you about having a port installed too. A port makes the delivery of the chemotherapy much easier. I know things have happened so quickly for you and your head is swimming with all sorts of questions. Things actually settle down once you get the surgery done and tests back. You will really have a solid plan laid out for you. Please keep in touch with us, we have all been there and will be happy to share our experiences. Take care, & healing hugs, Sharon

      2 comments
  • Mary Cordle Profile

    I have stage one of breast cancer in both breasts. My surgery was DEC 31. why am I just now getting radiation started Mar 2. My dr first told me I needed 3 weeks of radation but my other one says 6. Why??

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 2 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      My radiation started 2 months after surgery & I had 6 weeks of treatment. Your incisions have to heal before radiation can begin

      Comment
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Your body does need time to heal from one procedure to the next. As to the 3 vs 6 weeks you should be sitting down and talking with both doctors and see why the difference and if need be seek a 3rd opinion.

      Comment

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