“There are so many myths about breast cancer that it is difficult to narrow down the list,” says McLeod Oncologist Karim Tazi, MD. “Plastic surgery, the BRCA1/BRCA2 gene, and underwire bras are just a few of the ‘issues’ people have misunderstandings about that we do NOT address here. Checking with the National Breast Cancer Foundation or the American Cancer Society are good reference sources for you.”
Here are some of the most common myths:
1. Myth: I’m not going to breast feed because it can increase my risk of breast cancer.
TRUTH: Just the opposite. Breastfeeding may actually decrease the risk of breast cancer. This benefit seems to increase with each month the mother has been able to breastfeed.
2. Myth: Only women with a family history of breast cancer need to worry.
TRUTH: The majority of women diagnosed with this disease DO NOT have a family history of breast cancer. It is true that women have a significantly increased risk of breast cancer if their mother, sister or grandmother ever had it.
3. Myth: Since I had a normal mammogram, I don’t need to worry about breast cancer.
TRUTH: Starting at age 40 women are urged to have an annual mammogram. Women under 40 should have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years. Ongoing breast self-exams between mammogram screenings are also important for early detection.
4. Myth: If you find a lump during a self-exam, you have breast cancer.
TRUTH: There may be a number of reasons for the lump you feel – none of which are cancer. Only a small percentage of lumps are breast cancer. However, it is important that you see your family physician if you detect a noticeable lump or any change in your breast that you haven’t noticed before.
5. Myth: Antiperspirants cause cancer.
TRUTH: According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no conclusive evidence linking deodorants as a cause or contributing factor to breast cancer. Some deodorants contain aluminum, which may show up on mammograms as a false positive. So, when you are scheduled for a mammogram, it’s best to avoid wearing antiperspirants.
6. Myth: Needle biopsies can disturb cancer cells, spreading them throughout the body.
TRUTH: No conclusive evidence supports this myth. A 2004 study found no increased spread of cancer among patients, who had a needle biopsy, compared to women, who did not undergo the procedure.
Have a question. Ask a Cancer Specialist.
Sources include: McLeod Health, National Cancer Institute, BioMed Central, EverydayHealth.com, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation