Think you know everything about breast cancer? After all, the news is always full of celebrities who have had mastectomies or of people sharing warnings after leaving checks until they are too late. It seems like everywhere you turn there is something about this disease.
However, most of the facts that people think about are wrong. The facts are continually changing, but too many people fail to keep up.
It is essential to know everything about the disease. You need to find out which facts are real and which ones are the myths. Here are 12 common statements made about breast cancer with whether they are myths and facts to help you learn more. Make sure you know them to avoid the risks by not being up to date with your information.
A Lump in the Breast Means Cancer
This is a myth, but there is the basis for truth.
Your breasts should not have any lumps. Everyone can agree on that fact. However, if you find a lump, there’s no need to panic instantly. Not all lumps will be cancerous. Some of them will be benign tumors, meaning that they are harmless, and others could be blocked milk ducts!
It isimportant to check your breasts often for lumps. You want to feel all the way up to the armpits, as the breast tissue will travel up here. If there is a lump, the best thing you can do is speak to a doctor. While the lump may not necessarily be cancer, it is much better to be safe than sorry. Put your mind at risk.
Your doctor will be able to carry out a full exam, including scans. This will help to identify the size of the lump and could help to determine the reason. If your doctor believes the lump may be dangerous, you will be referred to for other tests, including a biopsy to find out if there are cancerous cells.
It is worth getting an annual breast exam and routine screening. This will help to catch any smaller lumps that your doctor may be worried about. If the lumps do turn out to be cancerous, catching them early will help to increase your chances of survival.
Bumping or bruising your breasts will not cause a cancerous lump to appear. However, many women are more likely to notice a lump because they have knocked their breasts since they are more likely to check the area!
A Mammogram Will Spread Your Cancer
This is a myth.
Many people avoid getting mammograms because they believe that they will cause cancer or make it spread further around the body. This is due to the risk of radiation from the x-rays. After all, x-rays are considered harmful, but only if you are the radiation a lot. This is the main reason doctors will be out of the room or have a lead vest if performing many x-rays.
The truth is that mammograms are still the best way to see early signs of breast cancer. They can show tumors even before they appear as lumps through the skin. Remember that early detection is your best way to fight and survive it.
The National Cancer Institute highly recommends scheduling mammograms, especially if you are in a high-risk category of developing breast cancer. While there is some radiation, the exposure is extremely low and has shown no evidence that it causes cancer or makes it spread.
The NCI recommends getting a screening on a yearly basis once you reach the age of 40. If your doctor believes that you have a higher risk, they may suggest more frequent mammograms.
Mammograms Will Prevent the Development of Breast Cancer
This is another myth.
Who would have thought that mammograms could have two myths when it comes to the development of breast cancer? If people do not believe they make breast cancer worse, they believe that they can prevent breast cancer from ever developing.
This is sadly not the case, although the NCI likely wishes it was. Mammograms only screen for lumps and signs of breast cancer within the body. They cannot do anything to stop you from developing it between your screenings. In fact, there are cases of women having no signs at one screening and then seeing aggressive cancers the next year.
Why should you bother with mammograms then? Well, it is more likely to see earlier signs of breast cancer through the screenings. The aggressive types of cancer are less likely to occur than normal growth cancers. If doctors must find breast cancer, they want to find it in the earlier stages. These cancers are much easier to deal with, and you are more likely to survive. It is also less likely that cancer has spread to other parts of your body.
Those With a Family History of Breast Cancer Will Get It
This is false but based on some truth.
It is easy to understand why some people believe the breast cancer myths. They can be based on some fact.
There is no denying that women with breast cancer in their family history are at a higher risk of developing the disease than those who do not have a family history. However, that does not mean you are guaranteed to get it. Likewise, women without a family history can still get the disease and should still check for signs of breast cancer.
Statistics show that only around 10% of women with breast cancer have a family member who had or have it! That is extremely low when you consider the number of people who have or had breast cancer.
There are so many other factors that go into the risk of developing breast cancer. There are also different types of breast cancer, which can make it difficult to determine the risk. Some forms are genetic, and you may be able to get a genome test to see if you are in the higher risk category.
Plus, the degree of your relative will affect your chances of developing breast cancer due to family history. Those in the highest risk are those who have a first-degree relative who has or had the disease, which means your mother, sister, or daughter (also afather, brother, or son, which is something we will consider soon). This is mostly in those whose first-degree relative developed cancer below 50 years old! If your relative had breast cancer before 50, you would want to consider regularly screenings from around 10 years before your relative suffered from it.
A grandmother, aunt, or other second-degree relative does increase your chances of developing the condition slightly. However, you are not as high risk as those with a first-degree relative.
If you have multiple generations that have developed breast cancer within the same family tree, then you will want to pay close attention. This is especially the case if those people developed cancer under the age of 50. This is a sign that there’s a gene mutation that is contributing to the condition and you will want further tests.
Other People Will Catch Breast Cancer Through You
This is a myth.
There are many concerns over diseases being contagious. Breast cancer is categorically a disease that cannot be transferred to or caught by someone else! This is the case for all types of cancer!
Cancer involves cells mutating or cell growth being uncontrollable and abnormal. When it comes to breast cancer, the cells mutate and grow at an alarming rate around the breast tissue, which is where the lumps come from.
The cells can mutate and grow abnormally for all types of reasons. There are many lifestyle factors involved, including sun exposure, radiation exposure, and even not getting enough antioxidants through your food and drink. Knowing all the risk factors and living a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to reduce your chances of developing the condition.
Deodorants Will Cause Breast Cancer
This is a myth.
Many people blame chemicals and toxins for breast cancer. One of the most commonly believed myth is that deodorants cause cancer. The NCI has done its research and not found anything conclusive that links the two together.
However, some chemicals have shown carcinogenic links. You will want to check all the chemicals and toxins used in any products that you use.
Those with the BRCA 1 or BRAC 2 Gene Mutation Will Get Breast Cancer
This is a myth.
Getting a genome screening is an excellent way to see if you are carrying a gene mutation known for breast cancer. The BRCA 1 or BRAC 2 gene mutations are the most commonly noted, especially in those with a long family history of developing the disease. These mutations can also put you at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer or both.
However, just because you see either of these mutations in your DNA does not mean you are going to develop the condition. They just tell you that you are a higher risk and you may want to take preventative measures if you want. This is something celebrity Angelina Jolie did by having a double mastectomy to decrease her chances of developing breast condition because she did not want to leave her children without a mother. Other women choose to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, especially if they have a long family history of ovarian cancer since there is no reliable screening for this type of cancer yet.
Those with the harmful mutation are five times more likely to develop breast cancer. There are non-surgical options to help reduce the risks of developing it though, including taking Tamoxifen, a hormonal therapy.
It is still worth remembering that 90% of breast cancer patients develop it through environmental and lifestyle factors, rather than genetic.
You cannot Do Anything to Reduce Your Chances of Developing Breast Cancer Except Surgery
This is another myth.
There are cases of women developing cancer despite a healthy lifestyle and without the gene mutation. This could be due to a lot of other factors; one of those being that we still don’t know everything about breast (and other) cancers.
However, that does not mean everyone is at risk and can’t do anything to prevent their chances of developing the disease. Surgery is not the only option to get rid of the dangers. After all, even with the gene mutation, we have already looked at the pharmaceutical option to help reduce the risks.
Since 90% of breast cancers are due to environmental and lifestyle factors, there are many things you can do to reduce your risks of developing them. Start by getting your weight down to a healthy BMI, through a good diet and regular exercise. Keeping your alcohol levels to a minimum and quitting smoking are other two positive ways to keep your breast cancer risk to a minimum.
Your Underwire Bra Will Cause Breast Cancer
This is a myth.
Bras have long been demonized for a variety of reasons. One of those is due to breast cancer. Many believe that underwire bras are bad for your breasts and the cells. They believe that the underwire will restrict the cells and cause mutations or abnormal growths.
The number of people believing this was so high that studies were completed to see if this was the case. One 2014 study showed absolutely no link. The researchers had women who did and didn’t wear all types of bras and checked for breast cancer in the future. There was no difference.
Wear whatever type of bra you want!
Breast Implants Will Lead to Breast Cancer
This is a myth, but there is a reason for the belief.
If you tell someone you are considering breast implants; they may tell you that you are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Put that worry out of your mind, but do be aware that there’s a reason for this belief.
The actual implants will not increase your risk of breast implants. There are so many other environmental, lifestyle, and genetic reasons. Silicone implants do often leave scar tissue, which is something that your doctor will want to keep an eye on, as it can cause other problems. You may notice lumps because of this scar tissue.
If breast implants were that bad, there is no way trusted medical staff would recommend them. They are used for reconstruction surgery after mastectomies!
Women with implants are more likely to have cancer that initially goes undiagnosed. This is partly because of the scar tissue lumps, but also because the implants make it harder to see signs of cancer on mammograms. Make sure your doctor knows you have had implants, even if you got them done in a different country or paid to go private. Your doctor will then be able to order implant displacement views during your mammogram, which means pictures taken from a different angle. The x-rays will see the tissue underneath the implants.
Breast Cancer Is Easily Cured Now
This is sadly still a myth.
Doctors would love to say that cancer can now be easily cured. They wouldlove for people not to worry. Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive cure for breast cancer. In fact, it can remain one of the hardest cancers to cure.
This is because there are so many different tumor types that people can suffer from. Breast cancer is a complex group of these tumors, some much easier to remove and others far more difficult and aggressive.
Some people will be able to have a few rounds of chemo and instantly see results. They can be in remissions within the year. Others will battle cancer for the rest of their lives and even possibly die from that cancer.
Researchers continue to search for cures for all the breast cancer subtypes. They also keep an eye on other subtypes being found. Since this involves cell mutations and abnormal growths, cancer can develop over time.
This is why finding cancer early is essential. Getting cancer in its earlier stages makes it much easier to fight against and kill than waiting until it is at its most dangerous level.
Men Cannot Get Breast Cancer
This is a myth.
Breast cancer is often described as female cancer. However, that does not mean men cannot get it. Remember why we said your first-degree relative could be a father, brother, or son? Well, this is why.
Every year, almost 2,200 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. A little over 400 of those are likely to die from cancer, and often because the breast cancer is found at later stages. After all, men are less likely to get a lump around their breasts checked whether believing the lump is nothing or they are embarrassed. Most men will find a lump beneath the areola and nipple.
Men do have breast tissue. The percentage of men suffering from the disease compared to women may be lower, but the cancer is just as dangerous.
Out of all the facts, this is the one that you want to remember for the male members of your family. There is no reason for the men in your family to be embarrassed. The sooner treatment is sought, the higher the chances of survival. We have put it at the end because it is so important; you are more likely to remember it!
Are You Ready to Fight Breast Cancer?
Do not believe something you hear just off the idea that it sounds right. There are people still with various elements of misinformation out there. People believe that your bras and deodorants will cause breast cancer.
With these 12 myths busted, you are now armed with the up to date and relevant facts. This is the information you need to help minimize your chances of developing breast cancer. You will be able to help others with your family settle their nerves and know how often to see your doctor for another mammogram.
Stay on top of your checks. The best thing you can do is find this cancer early if you do develop it. While it is not impossible to cure breast cancer, it can remain tricky depending on how soon you find it.