Debunking Breast Cancer Myths

With so many myths about breast cancer out there, it can be tough to separate fact from fiction. Here’s the truth behind some myths you should know:

Myth: You can prevent breast cancer.

Sure, you can keep tabs on your risk factors and make healthy lifestyle decisions, like exercising and eating right. But, there is no foolproof way to prevent breast cancer. It often occurs by chance and can happen to anyone. About 60-70% of women with breast cancer have no known risk factors.

The good news? Early detection, followed by prompt treatment offers you the best chance to beat the disease. So stand up to breast cancer by staying on top of your breast health and making your girls a top priority.

Myth: If you don’t have breast cancer in your family, you won’t get it.

This is not true. About 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a relative with breast cancer.

Of course, if your mom, sister, aunt or grandmother (don’t forget about the women on your dad’s side too) has had breast cancer, you have a higher risk of developing it compared to women who don’t have any family history. Having one first-degree relative with breast cancer can double your risk of getting the disease.

Myth: A monthly breast self-exam is the best way to diagnose breast cancer.

While many women have discovered cancerous lumps during a self-exam, most experts agree that a self-exam in combination with your annual gynecological exam and an annual mammogram—collectively—are the best ways to diagnose breast cancer. Breast self-exams are particularly helpful in your teens, 20s and 30s, before you begin annual mammograms.

Myth: Mammograms give off dangerous radiation.

The benefits of a mammogram far outweigh the risks. The radiation amount that you’re exposed to during a mammogram is minimal. Two low-dose X-rays are taken of each breast during the 20-30 minute procedure. Choosing a mammography facility that is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is the best option for your screening.

Myth: If you find a lump in your breast, you must have breast cancer.

Finding a lump does not automatically mean you have breast cancer. In fact, about 85-90% of breast lumps are not cancerous. Still, you shouldn’t ignore it. If you find anything abnormal, report it to your physician as soon as possible.

Myth: Breast cancer always shows up as a lump.

Even though lumps are the most common sign of breast cancer, they are not the only sign.  If you find a lump during a monthly beast self-exam, don’t ignore it. Let your physician know as soon as possible.

Myth: Wearing underwire bras, wearing a bra at night and using antiperspirant can cause breast cancer.

There is no scientific evidence or research to support these myths.

Myth: Women with breast implants cannot get mammograms.

This is not true. An experienced technician should have no problem performing a mammogram if you have implants. Be sure to let the mammography facility know that you have breast implants when you schedule your appointment, and remind them when you arrive for your test.

Myth: If you get breast cancer, you’re going to die.

Thanks to major advances in leading-edge medical technology, most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not die from it. Women with breast cancer are living longer today than they did decades ago. In fact, since 1991, breast cancer deaths have declined by 30%. Breast cancer is highly curable for women who are diagnosed early. That’s why being proactive by performing self-exams and living the healthiest lifestyle are so important.