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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

    My breast has a lump and is very itchy, is this common? I have mammogram in 4 days and am VERY scared. If this is breast cancer, how soon will they be able to tell me and how long usually until they let me know if it is malignant or benign?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Lou Cam Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      I don't know about the itchiness . After the mamo and sonogram, You might be scheduled for a biopsy. It may be another week or two before your biopsy. you should get the results in no more than a week. Hopefully, your sonogram results will be good, and you might not even need a biopsy

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      waiting period depends partly on what type of equipment (digital or conventional), and how busy the doctor is, who reads the mammogram

      with my first "questionable" mammogram, first the tech came back and took additional views, then they scooted me immediately down the hall for ultrasound, then...

      more

      waiting period depends partly on what type of equipment (digital or conventional), and how busy the doctor is, who reads the mammogram

      with my first "questionable" mammogram, first the tech came back and took additional views, then they scooted me immediately down the hall for ultrasound, then suggested I wait six months to see if anything developed (this was with the older style of mammo machine, and their waiting period for biopsy was more than a month) --- second time they had new digital system, did the mammo, came back for additional views on one side only; scheduled me for ultrasound a week later, then sent me for biopsy two weeks after that ..

      I'm hoping for you that given it's itching, that it is a cyst and not cancer ...

      2 comments
  • Stacie Foster Profile

    Has anyone experienced green colored drainage after having a lump removed? I had a benign lump removed 6 years ago and I'm going in tomorrow to have a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound, then a biopsy.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 2 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Hi Stacie,

      I haven't it but being curious about this I looked it up. Besides the obvious awful things we all fear, it could be mammary duct ectasia, a benign condition. It happens to women in their 40's & 50's. You doctor is being pro-active to refer you for a mammogram and ultrasound. ...

      more

      Hi Stacie,

      I haven't it but being curious about this I looked it up. Besides the obvious awful things we all fear, it could be mammary duct ectasia, a benign condition. It happens to women in their 40's & 50's. You doctor is being pro-active to refer you for a mammogram and ultrasound. Please keep us posted....prayers and positive thoughts for a benign report.
      Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • valerie dunn Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hi Stacie. I have had the green drainage off and on since I was 22. I have always been fibrous and dense in my tissue. I am now 49. After my hysterectomy the green drainage returned. The doctor tested it and it was fine. Now several years later I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I do not...

      more

      Hi Stacie. I have had the green drainage off and on since I was 22. I have always been fibrous and dense in my tissue. I am now 49. After my hysterectomy the green drainage returned. The doctor tested it and it was fine. Now several years later I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I do not think it has anything to do with the green drainage, but until they said breast cancer I did not know drainage was or could be a symptom. Again, I do not think one has to do with the other. Best of luck. You'll be in my prayers.

      Comment
  • Michele Saw Profile

    What's it like having an MRI?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 2 answers
    • Ali S Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Loud and not the most comfortable, but better than mammogram!! Really not that bad though. Anxiety is worse

      Comment
    • Melissa Meade Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      It isn't as bad as I anticipated. The machine is loud. If you have any anxiety issues, ask your nurse to give you anxiety medicine before the procedure. This will help you relax. I kept my eyes closed during the procedure too. I also listened to music through headphones which helped distract me.

      Comment
  • darrell reid Profile

    What is invasive ductile carcenoma ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 1 answer
    • Amy O Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2001

      Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) is a cancer that begins in the milk ducts of the breast, and has travelled (or invaded) outside the duct into the surrounding breast tissue. Also called Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, it is one of the most common types of breast cancer.

      Comment

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