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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

  • Jessi Thompson Profile

    Can fibroglandular tissue that gets hard become dangerous in the future?

    Asked by anonymous

    Family Member or Loved One
    about 6 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Jesse,

      In an overall picture, you have dense breast tissue. They are still deciding whether this predisposes a woman to breast cancer. What it does do is make it much more difficult to get a good, clear mammogram shot. This was my problem.... dense breast tissue which was very difficult to...

      more

      Jesse,

      In an overall picture, you have dense breast tissue. They are still deciding whether this predisposes a woman to breast cancer. What it does do is make it much more difficult to get a good, clear mammogram shot. This was my problem.... dense breast tissue which was very difficult to see through. I ended up with breast cancer that was not diagnosed by mammogram. If there is a question as to whether a lump is malignant or not, I would push my doctor to order additional testing such as an MRI or biopsy, etc. If I would have jumped up and down on the radiologist's chest, I would have been diagnosed at an earlier stage. Sometimes in life, you have to "take the bull by the horns" and be your own best advocate and insist on further testing. You could be saving your life. Put on those big girl panties and really talk to your doctor about the ramifications of dense breast tissue. It can be a real problem. You are right to question this! Take care, Sharon

      3 comments
    • Jessi Thompson Profile
      anonymous
      Family Member or Loved One

      I went to get a Breast Ultrasound on Wednesday and they said the hard lump in my left breast was fibroglandular tissue. I am most likely in perimenopause. But have a family history of breast cancer and my mom is currently fighting a 4 year battle with Rectal cancer. So my question is, can the...

      more

      I went to get a Breast Ultrasound on Wednesday and they said the hard lump in my left breast was fibroglandular tissue. I am most likely in perimenopause. But have a family history of breast cancer and my mom is currently fighting a 4 year battle with Rectal cancer. So my question is, can the fibroglandular tissue turn into cancer or something I need to worry about? I am waiting to hear from a doctor (which could take a while) to see if they recommend to observe the fibroglandular tissue lump or have surgery on it. I'm just not very informed on what fibroglandular tissue is and what can happen with it.

      Comment
  • Susan Clark Profile

    i had breast cancer a year ago and had 2 lymth nodes remived my breast has swollen and on examination my dicor found lumps could this be the cancer back

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 4 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I'm sorry your nerves are gone. I've gone to bed worried about tomorrow's tests. I'm not sure we ever get out of this thought cycle completely. I can be perfectly fine in denial and then completely devasted the next. I'm also about a year out

      Let's hope we all die of old age in peace....

      more

      I'm sorry your nerves are gone. I've gone to bed worried about tomorrow's tests. I'm not sure we ever get out of this thought cycle completely. I can be perfectly fine in denial and then completely devasted the next. I'm also about a year out

      Let's hope we all die of old age in peace. I do wish this for us all.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      It is a fear we all live with. I am so sorry you are going through this scary experience. I hope and pray you will be ok and this turns out to be nothing. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Emotional while on Tamoxifen? I 'm on Lexapro, do better, not crying so much, but when TOM, I just noticed I weep and cry? Is that normal? If it is , at least I can warn anyone around me, I had such a pity party last night. Thanks for your input.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    over 5 years 11 answers
    • View all 11 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Black Cohosh, St. Jame Wort should be added to the list of don't dos with Tamoxifen.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      It is something to discuss with your onc. We all react differently to the drugs we have to take. It is probably normal FOR YOU to react this way to Tamoxifen. It messes with your hormones and it happens. You may have to go on another type of anti depressant to get through it. Don't be shy...

      more

      It is something to discuss with your onc. We all react differently to the drugs we have to take. It is probably normal FOR YOU to react this way to Tamoxifen. It messes with your hormones and it happens. You may have to go on another type of anti depressant to get through it. Don't be shy or embarrassed to talk to your doctor. Your care team is there to make things as good as possible . Don't put yourself down, these are all powerful drugs meant to be doing battle with a tough enemy. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
  • Kandace Eichhorst Profile

    I've had small pus filled bumps on my breast for a while now, could it be breast cancer?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 4 years 3 answers
    • Mary Chase Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      We are not physicians and cannot answer that question. But with any change that is unusual with your body you should have it checked by your doctor.

      Comment
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Any changes to one's body should be checked by a doctor, you need to make an appointment and be seen to see what it may or may not be.

      Comment

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