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Can trauma to the chest cause breast cancer?

Can trauma to the chest cause breast cancer?

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I was in a serious car accident in January of 2004. I had massive trauma to my chest, so much that it collapsed my lung on the right side. Now I have lumps in both my breasts. On the right side the lump is about the size of a plum and on the left side it is about the size of a marble. Does trauma like this to the breast cause breast cancer or can it cause breast cancer? I only have one aunt with breast cancer. Am I at risk?

Answer

Julia Draznin Maltzman, MD, Attending Physician at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, responds:

There are no objective data that show trauma causes breast cancer. However, it is not unusual for people to notice lumps and bumps after a trauma because they are more aware of the area and pay more attention to that area of their body. Trauma can clearly cause benign lesions that can persist for some time. However, any new breast lumps should be brought to your physicians attention without delay.