April 24, 2019 by John Fernandez
Uncovering the Truth Behind Breast Cancer Myths
During October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we need to demystify breast cancer and eliminate some long-standing myths. Breast cancer is not a myth ─ it is a disease that, if caught early, has survival rates in the 89 percentile, according to the American Cancer Society.
There are many myths surrounding the disease. It is important to distinguish the facts from fiction so that if you feel or see something unusual in your breasts or if you are called back for a biopsy or other procedure following your mammogram or clinical examination, you will not be scared. Instead, you will be well informed.
MYTH: A needle biopsy means you have cancer.
FACT: A biopsy does not mean you have cancer. A biopsy is the only way a physician has to examine the breast tissue and be certain of its origin. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, most breast biopsy results are not cancer.
MYTH: Small-breasted women have less chance of getting breast cancer.
FACT: There is no evidence to support a link between the size of breasts and the risk of getting breast cancer. Women with dense breasts have a moderately increased risk of developing breast cancer. Regardless of breast size, the American Cancer Society screening guidelines are that women should get regular check-ups and screening mammograms at age 40.
MYTH: A breast injury can develop into breast cancer.
FACT: Bruising your breasts does not cause cancer. This myth, according to the American Cancer Society, probably began because bruising causes pain, which draws attention to the breast, making it easier to find the tumor.
MYTH: Breast implants can raise your risk of breast cancer.
FACT: The American Cancer Society reports that women with breast implants have the same risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer as women without implants.
MYTH: You can’t get breast cancer after a mastectomy.
FACT: After a mastectomy a women’s risk of developing breast cancer is reduced, but approximately 5 percent of women will have a breast cancer recurrence after a mastectomy, according to the National Cancer Institute. Similarly, women who have had a mastectomy but have never had breast cancer will have a decreased chance of developing breast cancer.
MYTH: Women with lumpy breasts (also known as fibrocystic breast changes) have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
FACT: While checking their breasts, women with lumpy, dense, or fibrocystic breasts may have a harder time differentiating between normal tissue and abnormal tissue and may experience false alarms. Doctors will likely recommend that these women have ultrasounds in addition to mammograms, according to the American Cancer Society
MYTH: Removing the entire breast gives you a better chance of surviving cancer than having a lumpectomy with radiation therapy.
FACT: Many studies in respected medical journals reported that survival rates are about the same for women who have mastectomies and for women who choose the breast-conserving surgery option followed by radiation.
MYTH: Breast cancer is contagious.
FACT: Breast cancer does not transfer from one person to another. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is a result of the uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that grow and spread within an individual’s breast.
MYTH: If your lymph nodes are removed, your arm will be swollen for the rest of your life.
FACT: Lymph node surgery can produce discomfort, numbness and swelling. Known as lympedema, the condition occurs in approximately 5-10 percent of cases and can be managed with physical therapy and proper care of the affected arm, according to BreastCancer.org.
Two very important facts are ─ one in eight women WILL get breast cancer in her lifetime and EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES.
Learn the facts ─ share the truths.
For more information or to schedule an appointment at Baptist Health Breast Center, please call 786-662-4775.