Finding out your breast biopsy has come back positive for breast cancer can be devastating. Learning of this diagnosis may leave you feeling angry, depressed, speechless and scared. Your emotions are completely normal, but it is important to remember that it is not your fault and you have done nothing wrong. By getting your mammogram and doing breast self exams, you have done everything right.

Where does breast cancer occur?

Breast cancer occurs most commonly in the lobules or the ducts. The lobules are the milk producing glands and the milk is transported through the ducts during breastfeeding.       

Side View of Breast DiagramHow does breast cancer occur?

Breast cancer occurs when the cells in the lobules or ducts begin to grow at an abnormal rate. Typically, these cells will divide and die off in a regular pattern. When the cells divide and do not die off is when the problem begins. There are different types of breast cancer depending upon the site at which the cells begin their overgrowth.

What is the next step after diagnosis?

After the diagnosis has been confirmed from your biopsy specimen, you will be referred to a breast surgeon. The surgeon will discuss your pathology report and surgical treatment plan. You may be referred to an oncologist or a radiation therapist for a consultation prior to surgery. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes, or to take someone with you to the appointments to take notes for you. Sometimes the other person recalls hearing something you may have missed.

You are not alone.

Although, this is a life-changing diagnosis, know you are not alone. In 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 57,650 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates that approximately 2.5 million women were living in the United States with a history of breast cancer.