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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

  • nancy  wilcox Profile

    Shopping around for the best price pays... I can get an MRI ranging from $953- $1,244 at another hospital! Thank you, Sharon!

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 3 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I am SOOOO glad you were able to shop around and get a lower cost MRI. When we think of healthcare.... and testing.... it is a place where we can shop around without jeopardizing our health! If we didn't get testing because of cost.... that would definitely impact our well-being.
      We are...

      more

      I am SOOOO glad you were able to shop around and get a lower cost MRI. When we think of healthcare.... and testing.... it is a place where we can shop around without jeopardizing our health! If we didn't get testing because of cost.... that would definitely impact our well-being.
      We are women.... WE KNOW HOW TO SHOP!!! Thank you for letting me know, Nancy. Hopefully, your success will pay of (literally) for other women when looking to save money in healthcare. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • nancy  wilcox Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      thanks!!! I will keep you both totally ABREAST of the situation :)

      1 comment
  • deb s Profile

    My oncotype DX score was 60, very high! Has anyone else had scores this high??? Does a high score impact my overall prognosis and chance for recurrence or new cancer after chemo?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2012
    about 8 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Hi Deb, I found a very good explanation about the reason for the Onco DX, and the theory behind it.
      http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/oncotype_dx.jsp

      As I understand it, the test helps women and their doctors predict whether their type of cancer, even though you are node...

      more

      Hi Deb, I found a very good explanation about the reason for the Onco DX, and the theory behind it.
      http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/oncotype_dx.jsp

      As I understand it, the test helps women and their doctors predict whether their type of cancer, even though you are node negative, is likely to reoccur. The tests that come back a high score are the types of breast cancer's where it would be advantagious to receive further treatment such as chemotherapy and/ or hormone therapy. You probably have an upcoming appointment with your oncologist to ask these questions. There is a website that is called Ajunctive Online or something similar. Your oncologist can plug in your type of cancer, staging, size, type and come up with your percentages. It will show your chances with chemotherapy and without. It was impressive and I went through chemotherapy and hormone therapy. If after you talk to your oncologist, and you still have questions, go for a second opinion. I would also advise you to bring along a friend, spouse, other family member who can take notes. You will probably need some help processing all the information. You will do fine. It's a big journey but your have a whole bunch of women who have been there.... done that. Healing hugs, Sharon

      Comment
    • nicole blagburn Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I would like to know the answer to this too. I found out my score next week.

      Comment
  • janine cartwright Profile

    what are the chances of me having cancer i i have an inverted nipple sometimes? and a lump found by doctor waitin scan..!

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Janine,
      This is how my cancer started with an inverted nipple. I hate to tell you this because I know you are scared. If this does turn out to be breast cancer, it is best to find it in the earliest stages. I was diagnosed at an early stage, successfully treated, and am cancer free. I hope...

      more

      Janine,
      This is how my cancer started with an inverted nipple. I hate to tell you this because I know you are scared. If this does turn out to be breast cancer, it is best to find it in the earliest stages. I was diagnosed at an early stage, successfully treated, and am cancer free. I hope this is something completely benign which happens much more often. You are doing exactly what you should.... having this checked out, asap. Please keep in touch with us. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Rosanna Wieder Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      I am new to this, just dx last month but it does sound like a possibility. With that said please try not to get ahead of yourself. Could be so many other things. I always say dont worry til there's something to worry about. Best of luck and please keep us posted!

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Does anyone has invasive lymphovascular?? And what does that mean? I am scared to death as my lymph nodes are negative from cancerous cells. Help!!!!!!

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 1 answer
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      I tried looking it up and I couldn't understand the explanation. For your own knowledge and especially your peace of mind, you should have a talk with your oncologist. There are so many findings in each and every woman's individual tests. What might be on one woman's pathology report would be...

      more

      I tried looking it up and I couldn't understand the explanation. For your own knowledge and especially your peace of mind, you should have a talk with your oncologist. There are so many findings in each and every woman's individual tests. What might be on one woman's pathology report would be completely different than yours. Even if two women have the same diagnosis, individual cells will tell an entirely different story. Treatments are really specifically for each and every woman, and we are all treated as individuals.... there is no "One size fits all" in cancer diagnosis and treatment. You are so worried because you don't have the whole story yet. This is a particularly scary place to be. Please call your doctor tomorrow so this diagnosis can be explained to you. We have all been in the place where you are now, and it is not a good place to be. Hang in there and please stay in contact with us. We completely understand and want to help and support you as much as we can. Take care, Sharon

      1 comment

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