Although there is more breast cancer awareness now than before, there are still several breast cancer myths and facts that people wrongly interchange, resulting in them not knowing the best care for breast cancer. It is important to differentiate between myths and facts so that we know how to prevent breast cancer and what to do if we are diagnosed with it.
1. Myth: If you don’t have a family history of breast cancer, then you won’t get it.
Fact: Most people who have breast cancer have no family history of it. Breast cancer is not just an inherited disease. In reality, a large percentage of breast cancers are not hereditary. A large number of people who are diagnosed with breast have no history of it in their family. Only about 5-10% of people diagnosed with breast cancer had it in their family. There are several other risk factors, such as obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption that contribute to a person developing breast cancer. However, often two people could have the same lifestyle, and only one will develop breast cancer. Doctors do not know exactly what causes a person to develop breast cancer. However, if you do have a history of breast cancer in your family, it is important to regularly self-examine yourself and to go for cancer screenings.
2. Myth: If you have a healthy lifestyle, you don’t need to worry about getting breast cancer
Fact: Although eating a balanced diet, reducing alcohol consumption, and exercising all contribute towards lowering your risk of breast cancer, they do not completely prevent it. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lower your risk as much as possible, but there is always the chance that you could still develop breast cancer. There have been many patients who have lived very healthy lifestyles but have still suffered breast cancer.
3. Myth: Only women get breast cancer
Fact: This is a big myth of breast cancer. Although it is rare, men can also get breast cancer, as they also have breast tissue. Male breast cancer is more common among older men, although it is possible for men of any age to get it. Many breast cancer symptoms in women are the same in men. These symptoms include a lump/swelling in the breast, nipple discharge, and red/flaky breast skin, irritation/dipping on the skin. For men, an unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, family history, excessive alcohol consumption, and age can be risk factors just as for women. Conditions that affect the prostate can also increase the likelihood of a man getting breast cancer.
4. Myth: Breast cancer only affects older women
Fact: Although the majority of breast cancers happen to women older than 50, breast cancer can affect anyone at any age. The risk of getting breast cancer does increase as you age, but that does not mean that young women and men cannot get breast cancer. Women of all ages must conduct self-examinations, paying attention to the several breast cancer symptoms and signs, which include a lump/mass in the breast, nipple discharge, change in breast colour, redness or flakiness in the skin around the breast, change in the size or shape of the breast, and inverted nipples. Self-examinations are not always enough, and breast cancer symptoms are often only prominent after a few months, so it is necessary for women of all ages to get screened for breast cancer.
5. Myth: A lump on your breast means that you have breast cancer
Fact: A lump on your breast does not necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. While having lumps on your breasts is a symptom of breast cancer, there are also many non-cancerous lumps. There is a greater chance that the lump on your breast is non-cancerous, and actually just a benign lump. Two common benign lumps are cysts, which occur most often in women aged 35-50 and women undergoing menopause, and breast abscesses, a sore lump accompanied by fever and tiredness. Before concluding what type of lump you have, you must see a doctor for proper screening and check-up.
6. Myth: Deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer
Fact: The myth of deodorants and antiperspirants causing cancer is a very popular, but untrue, one. Many people think the harmful chemicals in the products get absorbed into the lymph nodes and spread to the breast cells, causing cancer. However, there is no evidence linking either antiperspirant or deodorant to breast cancer. Antiperspirants and deodorants are safe to use.
7. Myth: There will always be a lump to indicate breast cancer
Fact: Every lump on the breast does not equate to breast cancer, and every instance of breast cancer does not feature a lump either. Self-examinations are important ways of checking yourself for signs of breast cancer, but they will not always be accurate as you are not always able to feel a lump with breast cancer. There are several other breast cancer symptoms which can indicate breast cancer such as changes to the nipple and its surrounding area, nipple discharge, swelling of the skin, and change in the colour or in the thickening of the breast. It is important to watch out for other signs and symptoms and book a consultation with a doctor if you see any of them. Lumps can take time to develop. By the time you feel a lump on your breast, it can mean you have had breast cancer for months or even years.
8. Myth: Breast cancer has only one treatment option
Fact: As with other cancers, breast cancer treatment is specific to every person and how cancer affects them. The different factors that breast cancer treatment differs according to includes the size, stage, and grade of cancer, whether the cancer is linked to an inherited genetic mutation, whether the cancer is fueled by hormones, and more. Surgery, chemotherapy, target therapy, radiation therapy, and hormonal therapy are all breast cancer treatments.
9. Myth: A mammogram can cause breast cancer
There is no evidence to suggest that mammograms can cause breast cancer. The best way to detect breast cancer is by having Mammograms. Women aged 40 and above should have a mammogram every year.
To learn more about breast cancer or to book a consultation with a breast cancer doctor