Revealing the Truth about Breast Cancer Myths

Now is time for part 2 of my series on revealing at the myths around breast cancer. I will address 9 more areas of misinformation that are circulating around about breast cancer.

  1. Cancerous breast lumps don’t hurt. Breast cancer can present in the form of a painless lump, but cancer can also present with a painful lump, and or breast pain and swelling.
  2.  Underwire bras cause cancer. The thought is that the underwire compresses lymphatic drainage, causing toxins to build up in the breast. There is no scientific evidence that wearing any kind of bra causes cancer.
  3. Getting a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) is better than getting a lumpectomy. Research shows that in early stage breast cancer, there is no difference in overall survival between  women who get a lumpectomy vs women who have the entire breast removed.  In more locally advanced cases of breast cancer, removal of the entire breast may be necessary.
  4. I can’t get breast cancer if no one in my family has ever had cancer. Most breast cancer that is diagnosed each year is diagnosed in people with no family history of cancer . 
  5. I shouldn’t get  a mammogram because it will increased my risk for breast cancer. It is true that you receive a tiny amount of radiation when you get a mammogram. The risk is so small that it doesn’t compare to the benefits of getting a mammogram. Mammograms can find cancers that are too small to be felt, which give you the best chance of cure.  
  6. Every woman has a 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer. No, 1 in 8 is the lifetime risk of a woman getting cancer. The risk of getting breast cancer increases as you get older. A younger woman does not have the same breast cancer risk as an older woman. 
  7. If you are high risk for getting breast cancer, there is nothing you can do to lower your risk. No, there are many things you can do to lower your risk of getting cancer. Exercise, surgery, medications, and more intense screening are all things that could be done to lower the risk. You should talk to your doctor about what are the best ways for you to lower your chance of getting breast cancer.
  8. If I carry a BRCA genetic mutation , I will definitely get cancer. No, not all women with a BRCA mutation will get cancer. The mutation does put you at an extremely high risk of getting cancer, but there are things that you can do to reduce that risk. A doctor who specializes working with high risk patients will give you the best options for you situation.
  9. If you have cancer, a mammogram will find it. No, not all cancers are seen on mammogram . If you are suspicious that you may have a cancer, then your doctor will order additional  testing like an ultrasound or MRI  or even schedule a biopsy to better evaluate the breast tissue. 

I’m sure there are more myths out there and one day I will address those as well. But for now, I hope this information has helped someone better understand breast cancer.

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