October is deemed as breast cancer awareness month throughout the world. With breast cancer being the most common cancer amongst women, there are also many myths flying around. Today, we will debunk some of them for you on the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Here are some breast cancer myths which you need to know.
Myth 1: Breast Cancer = A Lump Which Can Be Felt
Fact: A common misconception is that breast cancer always causes a lump that can be felt during a self-exam. People might use this as a reason to skip mammograms, thinking they will be able to feel any change that will indicate a problem. A mammogram can find a cancerous lump before it can be felt. While breast cancer does not always cause an obvious lump, cancer might have already spread beyond the breast into the lymph nodes by the time it does. Although regular self-exams are recommended, they are not a substitute for regular mammograms. While mammograms are excellent screening tools, women above 40 are advised to get a mammogram yearly.
Myth 2: Small Breasts = Smaller Risk Of Breast Cancer
Fact: Most breast cancers form outside of the fatty tissues of a woman’s breasts. Therefore, breast density is more important than breast size when it comes to risk and screening. This is the only physical breast characteristic proven to increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. Women with more than 75 percent dense breast tissue face a four-to-six times greater risk because it’s difficult to detect tumors in dense breast tissue with standard x-ray mammography. As the tumors appear white, just as the tissue itself, cancer is more often missed or found later in advanced stages in these women.
Myth 3: Breast Cancer = Contagious
Fact: Like all other cancers, breast cancer is not contagious at all. Breast cancer results from uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that spread into the other tissues within the breast. This happens only within a person’s body. You can never transfer or transmit cancer through the air or bodily fluids.
Myth 4: A Lump In Breast = Breast Cancer
Fact: Not all breast lumps are cancerous. Some of them may be fibrosis or simple cysts only. However, these are usually harmless. Look out for changes and never ignore a persistent lump in your breast. Make sure always to see a medical provider for a thorough breast exam. Your provider may order laboratory exams to determine if the lump is a concern or not.
Myth 5: Bras = Breast Cancer
Fact: Bras and its underwire have no relevance when cancer occurs. A scientific study in 2014 looked at the link between wearing a bra and breast cancer and found no correlation, nor did it find or prove that women who wore bras versus women who don’t have an increased risk of breast cancer.
Myth 6: Breast Cancer = Family History
Fact: Some women may think they’re not at risk for breast cancer if no one else in their family has had it. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Every individual’s genetic makeup is different. Not to mention the lifestyle practices and the influence they can have on health. The key is to minimize the risk factors which include, alcohol, obesity, hormone therapies.
Myth 7: Breast Cancer = Same Treatment For Every Type
Fact: Treatment plans vary widely depending on the characteristics of the tumor, the stage of cancer, and patient preferences. Some breast cancer cells have receptors on their surface, making them sensitive to hormones. In such patients, treatment with anti-hormonal drugs can block the growth of cancer cells. However, some cancers get resistant to this treatment over time. Thus, the need for additional treatment options beyond established anti-hormonal treatment approaches remains high, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgical options.
Breast cancer is treatable, and when caught early, it increases recovery rates for patients. Always make self-breast examination a habit and get regular mammograms to check for lumps. Look out for signs like swelling, pain, discomfort, discharge. In case you find anything, make sure to consult your doctor.
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