Cancer can be a very complicated disease from a medical perspective and a very frightening thing to think about as a patient or concerned family member. For this reason, questions about cancer in a patient with the disease are best answered by that person's treating oncologist
, while concerns about cancer screening
are best answered by a primary care doctor
The term encapsulated cancer simply means that on microscopic examination, cancer cells are surrounded or 'encapsulated' by normal tissue. It does not change a person's genetic risk.
When it comes to the genetic risk of breast cancer, there are several variables that should be consider. The presence of certain genetic mutations (you may be familiar with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations that are sometimes mentioned in the news) can lead to a greatly increased risk of breast cancer. Other risk factors include a history of breast cancer in the family, especially first-degree relatives such as parents or siblings; age at first pregnancy; prior radiation exposure; age at first period and menopause; and being overweight. However, it is important to remember that having these risk factors does not mean a woman will get breast cancer and conversely, many women who get breast cancer have none of these risk factors. This is why regular exams are so important. Depending on your family history, your doctor may also decide to refer you to a genetic counselor for further testing.