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Like any serious illness, being diagnosed with breast cancer can trigger many different emotions. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that you are experiencing and know that there is support out there for you from friends, family and loved ones, and you can use this website as a tool to guide you through it all.

Learning about your breast cancer starts with the basics.

How does cancer start in the breast?

A healthy body continuously produces millions of cells to replace cells that have died because of damage or age. Problems start when your body overproduces cells it doesn’t need. An uncontrolled increase of cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumour. Tumours can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

The exact cause of breast cancer is essentially unknown. 

What is that lump or change in my breast?

A person may discover a lump in their breast or it may be discovered by the doctor or by a mammogram and / or ultrasound. It is then determined if the lump is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). The way the lump is tested is with a biopsy, where a small amount of the lump is removed and tested.

If the lump is cancerous, further tests may be ordered and a referral to a surgeon will be made to determine the next steps in your care. More tests may be done to determine the grade of the cancer and it will be tested for biomarkers, which will give the doctors more information about the cancer and the best forms of treatment.

Follow-ups with your doctor are extremely important – even if the lump is considered benign.

The stage of the cancer is often not determined until after surgery. Additional tests for staging are ordered if needed. 

What is inflammatory breast cancer and Paget’s disease?

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rapidly growing breast cancer often presenting with a red, swollen breast (often mistaken for a breast infection). This type of breast cancer tends to be more common in younger women and women of African ancestry. 

Paget’s disease of the nipple is when breast cancer cells grow in and around the nipple instead of the ducts and is less common than other types of breast cancer.