There are so many false claims circulating around about breast cancer. I decided that now is a good time to clear up a few myths that have been going around for years. The misinformation has been perpetuated over the internet and there are even doctors who believe these myths as well. Do your research. Know the facts.
- Men can’t get breast cancer. This is absolutely false. Men can and do get breast cancer. About 1% of all breast cancer diagnosed each year occurs in men.
- You can’t get breast cancer after you have your breast removed with a mastectomy. Having the breast removed will dramatically reduce the chance that you could get breast cancer. There is still a very small chance that breast cancer can occur in small amounts of breast tissue or cells that are left on the chest wall after surgery.
- Fertility drugs increase your chances of getting breast cancer. There has been a lot of controversy about this over the years. A recent large study published in JAMA in 2016 puts this myth to rest. In the study of more than 25,000 women followed for 21 years, there was no increase in the number of breast cancers that were diagnosed over the general population.
- Breast cancer is preventable. Although there are many things that you an do to reduce the chance of getting cancer, there is nothing you can do that will completely prevent you from getting cancer. It’s best to follow the recommended screening recommendations , so that if you do get cancer, it is caught early.
- All breast cancers present with a lump in the breast. Most breast cancers are seen on mammogram before they are large enough to be felt. Some cancers present with a discharge from the nipple, rash or swelling in the breast.
- All breast lumps are cancer. Only 5-10% of breast lumps are actually cancer. Most lumps are fluid filled cysts or non cancerous tissue in the breast. Even though the majority of lumps are not cancer, they should all be evaluated by a doctor, no matter what age you are.
- Antiperspirants cause breast cancer. There is no clinical evidence to prove that antiperspirants cause breast cancer.
- A normal mammogram means you have nothing to worry about. If you have a breast lump or rash on the breast, a normal mammogram means nothing. Not all breast cancers are seen on a mammogram. Some cancers can only be seen with other imaging procedures, such as ultrasound or MRI. Some can’t be seen at all and are lumps that you can feel in the breast or a rash on the skin. Any abnormal lump in the breast should be evaluated by a doctor.
- Once air hits a cancer, it causes the cancer to spread. There is no scientific evidence that shows that exposing a cancer to air causes it to spread. A surgeon may discover during the surgery that a cancer is more widespread than what was initially thought.
I hope you found this information helpful. There are many more myths still going around. I will address many of them in part 2 of my fact vs fiction blog next week.