The devil whispered in my ear, “You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.” Today, I whispered back, “I am the storm.” – Anonymous
When you hear the words breast cancer, what is it that you actually start thinking! What are the first few thoughts that flash across your mind?
“Oh, it won’t happen to me, as no one I know has it”
“I am going to get breast cancer as my mom and maternal aunt have it”
“Using deodorants can increase my risk of developing breast cancer”
“Underwired bras and implants … are these safe?”
“Last week, I bumped my breast badly. It still hurts, am I on the road to develop breast cancer”
These are just a few thoughts you may get and there may be much more dancing in your head. Most of the times we don’t know the whole story and yes, this fear of the unknown often freaks us out. But definitely breast cancer is nothing to get scared of. After all, it is a disease which could be painful or fatal!
But hold back, it is also curable. Having said this, early detection can lead to a cure. Routine breast self-examination and mammography are the keys to early detection. One of the best ways of creating awareness is debunking the many many myths regarding breast cancer.
Here are some myths regarding breast cancer, which definitely need to be debunked:
Myth: Women with a family history of breast cancer are at a higher risk
Fact: A family history of cancer can be rather intimidating. But the good news is that most women with a family history of breast cancer necessarily don’t develop breast cancer. Approximately 10% of cases are genetic. However, if a woman’s, mother, maternal aunt, sibling or daughter has been diagnosed with breast cancer, chances of being affected are high.
Myth: Lump is the first sign of breast cancer
Fact: Wouldn’t it be easy to recognise breast cancer if a lump was the first and only sign of breast cancer. It is not necessary that a lump shows as the first sign. Most women miss the other signs like freckles and dimpling on the breast, nipple changes and discharge, swelling and redness in and around the breasts. So don’t be under the impression that lump is the only sign. Look out for the other signs as well!
Myth: Any trauma or an injury like getting hit on the breast can lead to breast cancer
Fact: Ooh! getting hurt on the breast is rather painful and the feeling takes a few minutes to sink in. However, the good news is that there is no link between an injury or trauma on the breast with the risk of breast cancer.
Myth: Wearing antiperspirants and deodorants can cause breast cancer
Fact: Would you like to step out without using a deodorant or an antiperspirant. Hell no! But scientists are concerned that deodorants or antiperspirants are worn very close to the breast. These may contain some harmful ingredients and they suggest that these may have a connection with breast cancer. However, lucky us that there is still no scientific evidence that links the development of breast cancer with these products.
Myth: Use of cell phone will lead to breast cancer
Fact: Well, this does not hold true, as cancer is caused due to genetic mutations whereas, cell phones produce low-frequency energy that does not damage the genes.
Myth: Breast implants increase the risk of breast cancer
Fact: The fact is that silicone or saline breast implants do not increase the risk of breast cancer. However, these can lead to a very rare yet treatable form of cancer (Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma) of the immune system. It is believed to occur in 3 in 100 million women.
Myth: A breastfeeding woman has less chance of developing breast cancer
Fact: A breastfeeding woman is at a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Breastfeeding helps to protect the health of the breast. How? Well, women who breastfeed have lesser menstrual cycles, thus resulting in a lower estrogen level. Along with this, breastfeeding women have a nutritious diet as they are concerned about the child. Thus a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of breast cancer.
Myth: A pregnant woman cannot get breast cancer
Fact: Well, this is definitely not common. There is a chance of about 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 pregnancies. A possible reason for pregnancy-associated breast cancer is that women these days prefer to have children much later in life. Thus the risk of developing cancer increases with increasing age. Also, becoming pregnant does not lead to breast cancer. In case the breast cancer cells are already present, hormonal changes during pregnancy may lead to their growth.
Myth: A mastectomy reduces the chance of breast cancer
Fact: Many women undergo a preventive or prophylactic mastectomy. However, the truth is that there may be a little chance that they can develop breast cancer in the chest. It is believed that around 10% of women may develop breast cancer despite having their breast cancer tissue removed.
Myth: A mammogram without any signs of cancer proves that breast cancer is not present
Fact: Mammography undoubtedly is a good tool for diagnosis. However, it has some limitations. Sometimes, there may be some lumps which may be felt but do not show up on the mammogram despite the fact that even the smallest lumps can be detected. 10% of cancers don’t form lumps that can be seen in mammography or felt. Since 10-15% of cancers cannot be detected through mammography, it is mandatory that self-assessment should be done in conjunction with other diagnostic tools like MRI and ultrasound.
Myth: Breast cancer affects only women
Fact: Usually men feel that they cannot get breast cancer as they don’t have breasts. But for them, it is their chest and yes men also have breast tissue. So, yes men can also get breast cancer.
Here is a quick brush up on the myths and facts regarding breast cancer:
Do you have a personal story about breast cancer to share? Let me know I would be happy to share your story. #BreastCancer
Also Read: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month