It's important to separate fact from fiction to help yourself and others
who are facing this disease. Here are 10 of the most common myths and
the truth about breast cancer:
MYTH: Women without a family history of breast cancer are not at risk.
TRUTH: The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no close relatives
with this disease. Regardless of family history, discuss mammography guidelines
and schedule regular screenings with your health provider. The biggest
risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and growing older.
MYTH: Breast cancer has become an epidemic in young women.
TRUTH: Although all women are at risk for breast cancer, 95 percent of breast
cancer cases occur in women ages 40 and over; and more than three quarters
occur among women over 50.
MYTH: Underarm antiperspirants and under-wire bras cause breast cancer.
TRUTH: There is no evidence or studies which indicate that using antiperspirants
or wearing any type of bra increases the risk of, much less causes, breast cancer.
MYTH: Breast cancer kills more women than any other disease.
TRUTH: More American women die of heart disease and lung cancer. However breast
cancer is still a major health concern. The American Cancer Society estimates
that this year about 212,600 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed
among women. Early detection and innovative treatment options are now
making it possible for many more women to live healthy, cancer-free lives.
But despite this progress, approximately 40,200 deaths will occur from
the disease this year - 400 of them will be men.
MYTH: Mammograms are unsafe and painful.
TRUTH: With today's modern technology, radiation levels are low and not
harmful. Modern mammography equipment is designed to minimize the degree
of discomfort. Since breasts can be tender just before or after menstruation,
women may prefer to schedule a mammogram at a different time.
MYTH: If a mammogram result comes back normal, there's nothing to worry
about until the next scheduled test.
TRUTH: Mammography is the best technology to detect cancer early. The American
Cancer Society recommends women also receive a breast examination by a
health professional as part of their scheduled physical exam. Self-awareness
and prompt reporting of any changes is important and strongly encouraged.
American Cancer Society guidelines for breast cancer screening.
MYTH: If a lump is cancerous, mastectomy is the only option.
TRUTH: At one time, mastectomy was standard therapy, but now many women have
more than one choice. The combination of lump removal (lumpectomy) and
radiation is performed more commonly. And the many treatment options are
helping women live healthy, cancer-free lives.
MYTH: Only women get breast cancer.
TRUTH: Breast cancer occurs primarily in women, but occasionally in men. Many
people do not realize that men have breast tissue, and that it's possible
for them to develop breast cancer.
MYTH: Having silicone breast implants increases your chance of breast cancer.
TRUTH: Silicone breast implants can cause formation of scar tissue in the breast,
but several studies have found that they do not increase breast cancer risk.
MYTH: An injury to the breast can cause breast cancer.
TRUTH: Injury or trauma to the breast does not cause cancer. One reason for
this myth is an injury may draw attention to a breast lump that had actually
been present for some time.