News articles, research studies and breast cancer awareness campaigns all make an impact in our society and yet there still remains many misconceptions about risks, prevention and treatment. Breast cancer development occurs in one of eight women, according to the American Cancer Society. A new survey presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Breast Cancer Symposium found that only nine percent of women accurately estimated their risk of breast cancer, out of 10,000 participants. About 45 percent underestimated their risk, while the remaining 46 percent overestimated risk. Certain risk factors can increase the dangers of breast cancer, and settling for mistruths can make life choices much too difficult to deal with. Here we will debunk popular breast cancer myths.
MYTH #1 – “BREAST CANCER MAINLY STRIKES WOMEN WITH A FAMILY HISTORY”
The majority of breast cancer patients in the past did not have a family history of the disease. However, if a woman’s mother, sister or grandmother have encountered the disease, their risk is increased. About 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, and are due to mutations in genes, most commonly the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
MYTH #2 – “BREAST CANCER IS CONTAGIOUS”
This may seem immature, but there are many believers of this misconception and patients that have heard this myth will do whatever they can to avoid contact with another woman who has breast cancer. Breast cancer is due to uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that spread to other tissue in the breast. The disease cannot be caught or transferred to another person’s body. Breast cancer is NOT contagious.
MYTH #3 – “WOMEN WITH SMALL BREASTS ARE LESS LIKELY TO GET BREAST CANCER”
Not true, breast size does not influence the development of breast cancer. The large amount of breast tissue or lack there of, will neither influence the vulnerability to cancer or other breast disease. Smaller breasts may be easier to examine mammograms and other screening methods, but size is irrelevant.
MYTH #4 – “BREAST IMPLANTS INCREASE A WOMAN’S CANCER RISK”
Women who seek larger breasts through breast augmentation are often confused of the risks that they expose themselves to with breast implants. Saline and silicone breast implants are safe devices that can rest naturally within a woman’s body. They do not pose any health defects, nor do they raise the risk of developing breast cancer. Implants may make cancer difficult to detect, but MRIs, mammograms and regular checkups can catch signs of cancer growth early.
MYTH #5 – “BREAST CANCER IS AVOIDED AFTER MASTECTOMY OR DOUBLE MASTECTOMY”
A mastectomy removes the breasts and any existing contents of cancer growth, but there is still a chance that remaining tissue can develop the disease. It is a rare occurrence, and women who have had a mastectomy or breast reconstruction should visit their doctors if noticeable changes or lumps develop.
All women over the age of 30 should visit their healthcare provider annually to screen for breast cancer. Whether patients have breast implants or not they can avoid the risks of development. Early detection of breast cancer can begin treatment that will attempt to halt the disease spreading. Stay above the radar and do not fall to myths, treat yourself to the facts of breast cancer.