lot of misconceptions are out there in regards to
breast cancer, including the
statement: “hereditary is the cause of most breast cancers”. Actually,
only 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancers have a family
More than two-thirds of women
with breast cancer have no known risk factors.
There is a strong genetic factor however. Women with certain mutations
BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a 60 to
80-percent chance of developing breast cancer. Fortunately, this mutation
Obesity and alcohol are two other known risk factors, behind about 20
percent of breast cancers. Obesity nearly triples the risk of breast cancer,
according to the Women's Health Initiative study of 85,917 postmenopausal
women. And consuming four alcoholic drinks a day raises the risk by 1.5
times, according to the
National Cancer Institute.
The facts are that most women;
who develop breast cancer, are leading relatively healthy lives.
One in eight women will get it this year
This statement of one in eight women will be diagnosed with cancer this year
tends to be not completely true. This "one in eight" number tends to get
tossed around when referring to the lifetime risk of developing breast
The statistics mean - one in eight of women by the time they're 85 will have
had breast cancer; however a woman in her thirties only has a one in 233
risk of getting the disease.
Fewer than 200,000 women will be diagnosed this year. With approximately 150
million women in America, that translates to about one in 750 women.
According to the
American Cancer Society – breast cancer survival rates are
quite good these days. The lifetime risk of dying from breast cancer for
women is about one in 35, or 3 percent, according to the American Cancer
Breast cancer is preventable
Although it is possible to identify risk factors; like family history and
inherited gene mutations; lifestyle changes can lower your risks. Reducing
or eliminating alcohol consumption, losing weight, exercise, stop smoking
and getting regular breast screenings can help tremendously.
70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no identifiable risk factors,
meaning that the disease occurs largely by chance and according to
unexplained factors. It is very important to get regular breast exams and mammograms
and always consult with your doctor whenever you notice any changes in your
breasts. When identified and caught early enough, breast cancer is treatable
and very often beatable.
The statement that breast cancer can be prevented – especially by eating a
healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, is debatable.
The cause of breast cancer remains unknown and is not completely
preventable. The real key to surviving breast cancer is early detection and
treatment. A drug classified as an anti-estrogen called, Tamoxifen may
decrease breast cancer risk in certain women.
Mammography is 100% accurate in early breast cancer detection
are considered the “gold standard” for breast cancer detection. However,
they are not 100% at detecting breast cancer.
Mammograms are about 80% effective at detecting breast cancer when all age
groups are considered.
such as the following are considered when determining the accuracy of
Myth #5: Mammograms can spread breast cancer, or even cause it
The amount of radiation is so low that there is no doubt that mammograms are
safe. There is a standard for safety established for mammograms by the
American College of Radiology, and is mandated by Congress.
Abortions cause breast cancer
persistent myth is one that abortions can cause breast cancer. This topic is
based on real science studies of rats in the 1980s indicating a possible
correlation between hormones and breast tissue growth. But the issue was
thoroughly resolved by the 1990's.
Only women get breast cancer
This statement is definitely a myth. Men can also get breast cancer. In
men, breast cancer can happen at any age, but is most common in men who are
between 60 and 70 years old. Male breast cancer is not very common. For
every 100 cases of breast cancer, less than 1 is in men.
Approximately, 1,990 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008,
according to the American Cancer Society, and with 450 who died from the
For men, signs of
breast cancer and treatment are almost
the same as for women.
Small-breasted women cannot get breast cancer
woman’s amount of breast tissue does not affect her risk of developing
breast cancer. Breast size is not a significant risk factor for breast
Drinking coffee increases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer
Coffee does not cause breast cancer. There have been several studies with
rats showing how coffee can actually prevent cancer.
There have been health care professionals who believed that caffeine can
fibrocystic change (a common non-cancerous breast condition which
consists of cysts, lumpiness, tenderness and pain). Some women find that
reducing their caffeine intake by avoiding coffee, chocolate, tea and soft
drinks can actually help decrease water retention and breast discomfort.
This topic is a controversial one among health care professionals, since
studies linking breast pain and caffeine have been conflicting.
Breast cancer always presents itself in a form of a lump
Eight out of ten breast lumps are benign or roughly 80 percent of all lumps are
non-cancerous. However, it is in your best interest to have all lumps
checked out by a physician to make sure the lump is not cancerous.
However, a breast lump can most certainly be a sign of breast cancer. A
breast lump can also be a number of non-cancerous conditions. Not all women
who are diagnosed with breast cancer will have symptoms of a lump. Any of
the below changes should be followed up with your physician.
Having any of the symptoms does not mean that a woman has breast cancer.
Breast cancer can be present without any symptoms.
The following should be
checked for during monthly self exams:
Any new lump in the breast
or axilla area (armpit area)
Any lump or thickening
that never shrinks down after your period
Any change in size – shape
– or symmetry of your breast
Thickening or swelling of
Any dimpling – puckering –
irritation or indentation in the breast or nipple area
Women with a rare type of breast cancer called
inflammatory breast cancer
(IBC) rarely have a breast lump. Symptoms of IBC include swelling, redness,
itchiness, or warmth in the breast; tenderness or pain; a change in the
nipple, such as retraction; skin that appears thick and pitted like an
orange peel or with ridges and small bumps; an area of the breast that looks
bruised; or swollen lymph nodes under the arm.
Doctors encourage women to report any changes that they notice in their
If a breast lump is painful, than it isn’t cancer
Ten percent of breast cancers are associated with pain. This is however; very rare if
this is the only symptom of a breast tumor. Breast pain is the third most
common non-cancerous breast complaint and can be caused by many conditions. Bilateral breast pain is less likely to be associated with breast cancer
than unilateral breast pain.
general, breast cancers are painless, but pain alone cannot rule out cancer.
Some women also believe that a painless lump must not be cancer. This is as
well, not true. There's no correlation between whether the lump is painful
and whether it's cancerous. Any lump should be checked by a doctor.
Wearing an under-wire bra increases your risk of getting breast cancer
There are claims that a under-wire bra compress’ the lymphatic system of the
breast. This in turn causes toxins to accumulate and cause breast cancer. This is most definitely a myth.
The tightness of your underwear or other clothing has no connection to
breast cancer risk.
Breast implants can raise your cancer risk
Women with breast implants are at no greater risk of breast cancer,
according to studies and research. Standard mammograms don't always work as
well on women who have breast implants. Additional X-rays including tests
such as Sonocine,
ultrasound and digital mammograms
are needed to fully examine all the breast tissue.
Wearing antiperspirant increases your risk of getting breast cancer
The American Cancer Society has stated that this topic needs more research.
There have only been a small number of studies looking at the link between
deodorant use and breast cancer. Research in this area was driven by
concerns that chemicals found in deodorants might enter the skin in the
underarm and cause changes in the cells of the breast that could lead to
cancer. However, the evidence to date does not support a link between the
two. Although a link between deodorant and breast cancer appears unlikely,
there are too few studies in this area to say for sure.
Breastfeeding increases the risk of breast cancer
According to the breast cancer source – Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer
Foundation, the opposite is true. Breastfeeding may decrease the risk
of peri-menopausal breast cancer.
I am a cancer survivor for five years, so my cancer will not return
Breast cancer can recur at any time; however, it is more likely for a
recurrence within the first five to ten years.
75 percent of women who will get
a recurrence within the first six years
25 percent of women recur in the
10 years after that
Hormone therapies such as
tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors may delay any recurrence
Breast cancer only happens in older women
While the risk of breast cancer increases with age, all women are at risk
for getting breast cancer. This is why women of all ages need to perform a
monthly breast self exam.
A mastectomy is the only treatment for breast cancer
There are several treatments for breast cancer including chemotherapy and
radiation therapy. Mastectomy is not the only option.
Birth control pills cause cancer
Birth control pills do contain small amounts of estrogen, however the amount
is so small - it is not even a factor in breast cancer development. If you
have any concerns about the use of oral contraceptives and breast cancer,
please talk to your physician.
father's family history of breast cancer doesn't affect your risk as
much as your mother's
Your father's family history of breast cancer is just as important as your
mother's in understanding your risk. But to find out about the risk stemming
from your father's side of the family, you need to look primarily at the
women; while men do get breast cancer, women are more vulnerable to it.
Associated cancers in men (such as early-onset prostate or colon cancer) on
either side are also important to factor in when doing a full family-tree
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