1. Can an injury to the breast cause cancer?
An injury to the breast cannot cause cancer. When the body tries to heal the bruise, it can develop scar tissue. This scar tissue can be mistaken as cancer on mammogram. However, symptoms of injury should subside within a month. If you are worried, seek confirmation from your doctor.
2. Are most breast lumps caused by cancer?
No. Only one lump out of every 10 will be cancerous. This means that 90% of all breast lumps are not cancer. However, the chance of a lump being cancerous increases as you get older. Some women do not have a definite lump, but can feel areas of general ‘lumpiness’ in their breasts. Often, your doctor will be able to reassure you that this is normal but it is important that you ask your doctor to check thoroughly for any change.
3. Can a benign (non-cancerous) lump turn into cancer?
The chances of cancer developing in a benign lump may be no different than in any other part of the breast. However, it is very important for you to make sure that the lump is non-cancerous in the first place.
4. If I have a benign breast problem, am I more likely to get breast cancer?
Occasionally, the risk is slightly higher in some women with particular benign breast problems. However, you will need to talk this over with your doctor.
5. Do benign problems come back?
Generally, no. However, a small number of women will develop new benign lumps in the future.
6. I felt a lump in my breast, but it didn’t show up in the mammogram. Does that mean I don’t have cancer?
A lot of women who find lumps in their breasts get frightened and they go for a mammogram. When nothing shows up, they’re very happy because they assume it’s not cancer. No test is perfect. Ask your doctor to conduct more tests and find out the cause of the lumps. Even though many breast lumps are not cancerous, you should still bring it to your doctor’s attention.
7. What if the lump turns out to be cancer?
If breast cancer is detected early, it has a better chance of being cured. You will need to discuss the diagnosis and the best treatment options with your treating doctor.
8. What should I do if my doctor says my breast problem is nothing to worry about but I still feel concerned?
If your doctor has suggested your problem is hormonal, you may wish to wait until after your next period to see if the problem is still there. If it persists or if you are still concerned, you may wish to go back to your doctor or seek a second opinion.
9. What if there is a history of breast cancer in my family?
Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer, such as a mother and/or sister who developed breast cancer before menopause, may be at increased risk of getting breast cancer. If you are concerned about a family history of breast cancer, talk with your doctor. You may also wish to consult a breast specialist.
10. Will I still have my menstrual periods after breast cancer treatment?
Treatment with chemotherapy and hormonal therapy may cause changes in your menstrual cycle, resulting in irregular menstruation or early menopause. If you are already reaching menopause, your menstrual periods may not return.
11. Can I become pregnant when I have breast cancer?
The belief is that changing levels of female hormones during pregnancy could encourage the recurrence of breast cancer. However, there is no data to show that this is so. Some doctors will advise you to wait one or two years after completion of treatment before attempting to conceive. Nevertheless, do discuss with your doctor before planning to conceive.
12. When is a mastectomy recommended?
Some women do better cosmetically with a mastectomy than with the removal of just the lump, since breast reconstruction is now available using tissue expanders or skin flaps. Your surgeon will be able to advise if you are suitable for breast reconstruction.
The Singapore Cancer Society has a Reach to Recovery Programme that provides physical, cosmetic, post-operative and psychological support. The volunteer is usually a female who has undergone a mastectomy.
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