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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

  • Elizabeth Dycus Profile

    I'm sixteen, and I am really starting to worry that I might develop breast cancer. I'm very afraid to go to the doctors and having them touch my breasts. What should I do?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 1 answer
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Family Member or Loved One

      I understand that it might be scary to go to the doctor. However, if you notice any changes in your breasts or anything unusual, you really need to talk with your doctor about it. Here is where you can learn about common signs & symptoms of breast cancer:...

      more

      I understand that it might be scary to go to the doctor. However, if you notice any changes in your breasts or anything unusual, you really need to talk with your doctor about it. Here is where you can learn about common signs & symptoms of breast cancer: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/About-Breast-Cancer/Symptoms.aspx.

      Doctors will usually start performing clinical breast exams when you go in for regular checkups at about age 20. They are checking for abnormalities in your breasts and it's really not that scary. If you have concerns about it, though, the doctor may teach you how to do a breast self-exam. Here is where you can learn about how to do a breast self-exam: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/About-Breast-Cancer/Breast-Self-Exam.aspx.

      At the age of 16, you really don't need to worry too much, but it is very important that you pay attention to any changes in your breast and consult your doctor if you have concerns.

      Comment
  • Norma Crutchfield Profile

    what is the outlook for a person with invasive ductral and invasive lobural cancer

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 2 years 3 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Breast cancer is NOT a death sentence. I had both IDC and DCIS diagnosed with biopsies but the surgical specimen also showed a 2nd area of IDC and LCIS. I've had surgery, chemo., rads., and am now on a hormone blocker and think positive thoughts every day. Think positive thoughts as you go...

      more

      Breast cancer is NOT a death sentence. I had both IDC and DCIS diagnosed with biopsies but the surgical specimen also showed a 2nd area of IDC and LCIS. I've had surgery, chemo., rads., and am now on a hormone blocker and think positive thoughts every day. Think positive thoughts as you go through this journey called breast cancer and you will be fine, I believe in my future being bright and so can you.

      Comment
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      As Betti said, breast cancer isn't the life sentence it once was. So many new treatment available now. Everyone is different and you don't have an expiration date so trust in your team, do everything you can to get rid of the cancer, stay positive and live a long happy life. Prayers to you.

      Comment
  • Mona Assadi Profile

    I'm 26 and I have been diagnosed with stage 2. Do I need a mastectomy??

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 3 answers
    • Tiffani Warila Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I am 29 and based on the Size of the lump during ultrasound am borderline stage 1-2. I am doing 8 rounds of chemo before surgery in hopes of shrinking the tumor. Then only a lumpectomy will be needed. There are many different factors to consider though. Genetic testing to see if you are brca1 or...

      more

      I am 29 and based on the Size of the lump during ultrasound am borderline stage 1-2. I am doing 8 rounds of chemo before surgery in hopes of shrinking the tumor. Then only a lumpectomy will be needed. There are many different factors to consider though. Genetic testing to see if you are brca1 or brca2 positive, if there is more than one tumor, etc. Your doctor would be able to tell you if chemo first would be a good option for you. If you have any other questions feel free to ask me. I am more than willing to to help!

      Comment
    • Joan Rosov Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 3A Patient

      I have had breast cancer twice. Both times I had genetic testing The results really helped in the decision process.

      Comment
  • Nikol Vega Profile

    How do you tell your doctor you're getting a second opinion without hurting their feelings?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 2 answers
    • Betsy Chapin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      Don't hesitate getting a second opinion. Doctors expect patients to seek a second opinion. Some doctors will offer to set up your second opinion for you. I just got done with treatment and sought a second opinion but ended up going back to my oncologist. Do not worry about hurting the doctor,...

      more

      Don't hesitate getting a second opinion. Doctors expect patients to seek a second opinion. Some doctors will offer to set up your second opinion for you. I just got done with treatment and sought a second opinion but ended up going back to my oncologist. Do not worry about hurting the doctor, they understand. You will have total peace of mind when you have sought out all possibilities for treatment.

      Comment
    • Tiffani Warila Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Don't worry about hurting your doctors feelings. My surgeon suggested I go get a second opinion at a bigger hospital and helped me set up the appointment. For me, the second opinion gave me peace of mind that I was doing the right course of treatment. They said exactly the same thing and...

      more

      Don't worry about hurting your doctors feelings. My surgeon suggested I go get a second opinion at a bigger hospital and helped me set up the appointment. For me, the second opinion gave me peace of mind that I was doing the right course of treatment. They said exactly the same thing and reassured me that although they would love to have me with them, the hospital closer to home was a great choice as well. It's never a bad idea to get a second opinion!

      Comment

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Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in their lifetime.

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