Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Beyond a breast exam or mammogram, there are various tests and methods for doctors to diagnose and track progress of breast cancer. The process involves imaging and lab tests, including ultrasounds, MRIs, a breast biopsy and even bones scans to locate tumors and stage the cancer. A medical oncologist or breast surgeon help explain a breast cancer diagnosis and provide treatment options. Learn more about diagnosing breast cancer with expert advice from Sharecare.

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    There is no doubt that breast cancer can run in families, so it's likely that there is a hereditary factor. It is important to note that only about 10 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history. Just because one of your relatives had breast cancer does not mean you are absolutely fated to develop it.

    Scientists have identified two genes, BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, that seem to be associated with an increased risk for breast cancer. In fact, five to ten percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer will be carriers of one of these mutations.

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    A , Health Education, answered

    The pathologist determines if the cells studied under the microscope are cancerous (malignant), precancerous (premalignant: at high risk of becoming cancerous), or benign (harmless).

    If you are told it’s benign, don’t just run out the door to celebrate. You still want a copy of the pathology report, because there’s one key term you need to look for: atypical hyperplasia. If you have this, you have an increased risk of breast cancer in the future. Most pathologists now know how important this is and comment on it in their reports. But don’t take any chances. If your report says “hyperplasia of the usual kind,” then you’re probably fine.

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    Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen: The American Cancer Society estimated 1,910 men would be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 in the United States, and 440 would die. It used to be thought that men who developed breast cancer were more likely to die than women with the disease, but research now shows that both sexes have an equal chance of beating breast cancer.

    Men face a higher risk of breast cancer if the disease runs in their families, if they have been exposed to radiation, or if they have elevated levels of estrogen, which can happen with Klinefelter's syndrome or cirrhosis.

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    The following steps should be taken each day to care for your breast catheter site:
    • Wash and dry your hands before starting.
    • Remove the old dressing from around the catheter.
    • Pinch the wings of the ChloraPrep swab to release the liquid.
    • Swab the skin around the catheter with the moist swab in a circular movement, starting at the catheter site and moving outward.
    • Place two to four drain sponges around the catheter.
    • Use one cover sponge to cover drain sponges and the other cover sponge to pad the end caps. You should not remove any of the caps.
    • Cover the sponges and catheter ends with the ABD pad.
    • Secure the dressings with a bra. Avoid taping the dressings in place.
    • Sponge bathe only, since you do not want to get this dressing wet.
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    A Internal Medicine, answered on behalf of
    How does family history affect my risk of breast cancer
    Family history is often a cause of many cancers. Accordingly, it can increase the risk for breast cancer, says Tejas Raiyani, MD. In this video, learn about the importance of family history.
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    A answered
    Women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer face a whole set of fears as they go through various stages of anxiety and acceptance. Many are in a state of denial at first. This can quickly turn to anger and a feeling that their world has been turned upside down. Some women wonder what they have done to deserve this and are unsure about the best road to recovery. Eventually, reality sets in and treatment begins, which is when many women feel better and more in control of their disease because they are actively fighting it.
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    A Clinical Genetics, answered on behalf of
    Men as well as women can carry breast cancer predisposing genetic mutations. Men with BRCA mutations face an elevated risk of breast cancer (5-7%). When investigating your family's medical history, you should never ignore a diagnosis of breast cancer in a male relative, or your father's (paternal) side of the family.

    All male breast cancer is not genetic. Genetics may be considered a risk factor, but it doesn’t mean that breast cancer is definitely due to genetic causes. Following a diagnosis of male breast cancer, individuals should consider genetic counseling to  map out the family tree, and discuss the possibility of genetic testing.
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    A Surgery, answered on behalf of
    A detailed personal risk assessment will not necessarily dictate treatment of the newly discovered lump but can add perspective. Risk analysis is helpful in planning a long-term approach to breast health and a screening strategy.

    The salient risk factors, in order of importance, are: 1) personal history of familial genetic mutations (Angelina Jolie’s BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation, for example); 2) personal history of previous breast cancer; 3) personal history of non-malignant proliferative benign disorders (sclerosing adenosis, ductal hyperplasia or atypical ductal hyperplasia, for example); 4) breast density on mammography; 5) family history of breast cancer and 6) previous radiation therapy to the chest (for example, Hodgkin’s disease treatment).

    The risk factor generating the greatest misconception is a positive family history of breast cancer, with women automatically suspecting doom when they feel a breast lump. Conversely, women with a negative family history tend to feel bullet proof. Both concepts are incorrect, as the status of the family history is an important factor, but breast cancer is multifactorial and family history is only one of many risk components. Ultimately, most breast cancer patients have a negative family history of breast disease and the majority of patients with breast cancer (60 percent) have no identifiable risk factors.

    This content originally appeared on the HCA Virginia Physicians blog.
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    Women under the age of 40 are usually not screened for breast cancer with mammograms and ultrasounds. In general, we don't recommend such screening unless these young women have a very strong family history of other personal risk factors that put them at a very high risk of breast cancer at a young age.

    Only 2% of all breast cancers are diagnosed in women age 40 and younger. However, the leading cause of cancer death in women under the age of 40 is actually breast cancer. Many young women with breast cancer are not diagnosed until the late stages of the disease and often have a more aggressive type of cancer.
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    A , Plastic Surgery, answered
    Men, just like women, may have breast lumps. If this be the case, it should be clearly delineated and biopsied, as necessary, in order to determine malignancy versus gynecomastia, versus simple benign tissue.
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