Can an injury or blow to the breast cause cancer?

  • Injury, trauma, or a blow to the breast does not cause cancer
     
  • There’s also no good explanation for how an injury could cause cancer in breast tissue
     
  • But injuries may sometimes lead to someone finding a cancer near to the injured area that was already there

 

What can happen after an injury to the breast?

If someone has an injury or blow to the breast, they might check it themselves or have it checked by a health professional. If there’s already a cancer in the area, these checks could find it. This doesn’t mean that the injury has caused the cancer.

Sometimes an injury can cause a lump that’s not cancer. This can be bruising or scar tissue that can form when the body naturally repairs itself. There’s no evidence to suggest that these lumps increase the risk of cancer, but they may need treatment if they don’t go away on their own.

If you notice a change to the look or feel of your breasts, or anything else that’s not normal for you, tell your doctor. It probably won’t be cancer, but it’s important to have it checked.

 

There are many myths about what causes cancer, including physical injuries to breasts. However, there are also proven causes, and things you can do to reduce your risk.

We regularly review new research on the causes of cancer to make sure our information is up to date and based on the best quality evidence. We develop our information by looking at lots of research carried out over many years. So, although new research comes out all the time, it is unlikely that one new study would change our position on a topic.  

Some studies are better than others at telling us about how different factors affect cancer risk. These are some of the things we consider:

  • Did the study look at cells, animals or people?

Studies in animals and cells can help scientists understand how cancer works, but they can’t always tell us how it’s relevant to humans. So we focus on studies in people.

  • How big is the study and how long did it go on for?

Studies on small numbers of people aren’t as reliable, because results are more likely to happen by chance. And studies that only follow people for a short amount of time can miss long-term effects. So we mainly look at studies that follow thousands of people over many years.

  • Did the study account for other factors that could affect someone’s cancer risk?

There are lots of factors that can affect someone’s risk of cancer. Studies should take known risk factors into account. For example, if a study is looking at air pollution and lung cancer, it should also look at whether participants smoked.

  • Where is the study published and who funded it?

It’s important to see if a study is published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. This means that other experts have checked the results. It’s also important to know who funded the study, as this can affect the findings. For example, Cancer Research UK disregards research funded by the tobacco industry.

How to find accurate information on cancer

Sometimes news outlets exaggerate stories about cancer. It’s helpful to think about some of the questions above to judge a news story. But the most important thing is to get information from a trusted source– for example our website and the NHS.

One way of knowing if you can trust health information is by checking if the Patient Information Forum (PIF) has accredited it. The PIF makes sure that information is based on up to date evidence and is high quality.

The Patient Information Forum tick looks like this.

Patient Information Tick

You can read more about spotting fake news on cancer on our blog.

Li B, Nguyen J, Williams CA, Cardenas K, Pidhorecky I. Rare Papillary Breast Carcinoma Incidentally Discovered After Trauma-Induced Hematoma. Cureus. 2021;13(9):e18215.

Genova R, Garza RF. Breast Fat Necrosis.  StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL)2021

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