During last decades the frequency of breast cancer detection is increasing for few reasons including modernized diagnostic tests, annual screening mammography and breast cancer awareness campaigns. At the same time, the survival rate are increasing thanks to modern treatment tools (equipment, medication, trained staff). More and more women speak about breast cancer and unfortunately several breast cancer myths are spread. It can be useful to identify some breast cancer myths and highlight true information about breast cancer.
Breast cancer myth about family history
Breast cancer in family history is considered as a risk factor for breast cancer development. Some women believe in myth that absence of breast cancer in family history means absence of breast cancer risks. The truth is – majority of women with breast cancer don’t have any family history of any cancer (including breast cancer). According to medical statistics, only about 10% breast cancer clients have family history of breast cancer. However, if your mother, grandmother or sister had breast cancer, your risks are increasing dramatically. Special attention should be paid to sisters who have twin sister with breast cancer.
If you don’t have breast cancer in family history, it doesn’t mean you will never experience breast cancer. At the same time, if you have breast cancer in family history, it doesn’t mean you will have same type of cancer or cancer at all. Millions of women with cancer family history never had cancer in their long life.
Another myth is that only mother side cancer history is important. But true is – father’s family history of breast cancer is equally important. Hereditary breast cancer is caused by inheriting mutated gene from either father or mother (equal importance).
First degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) with breast cancer developed before 50 should be considered as a high risk. In these cases it is strongly recommended to start annual screening mammography 10 years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis.
Breast cancer myths about age
Top 5 breast cancer myths
Many young women believe in myth that young persons cannot get breast cancer. True is that women of any age could develop breast cancer. At the same time, it is important to highlight that breast cancer risks increase with aging (more frequent after menopause). According to health statistics, about 25% of women with breast cancer are younger than 50.
Special attention should be paid to the age of relatives with breast cancer. If breast cancer was diagnosed in your relatives before 40, it can be considered as a special warning for you.
Unfortunately, there are several cases of breast cancer even in very young girls (see “Breast cancer girls”). In general, aging women (after menopause) are more likely to develop breast cancer since the risk of this type of cancer increases with age.
Breast cancer myths about breast lumps
It is absolute myth that breast lump is always a sign of breast cancer. Fortunately most breast lumps are benign and only small part of lumps develop cancerous cells.
Another myth is – if you don’t have breast lump it means you don’t have breast cancer. Unfortunately cancerous transformations in breast tissue could start much earlier of lump diagnosis.
Next myth is – if you don’t have breast pain, you cannot have breast cancer. The true is that in most cases development of breast cancer happening without any symptoms (without any pain). Unfortunately early stages of breast cancer are not associated with any warning signs or any physical changes. This is why annual screening mammography is recommended to be able to identify very early stages of breast cancer which are best for successful treatment.
Although breast lump rarely could be a symptom of breast cancer, all cases of persistent breast lumps (especially on one side) should be investigated by experienced doctors. Any changes in breast tissue never should be ignored.
Important to know:
While breast lumps in young women (before 40) are much less likely to be cancerous than limps in older woman (after menopause) are much likely to be breast cancer.
Breast cancer myths about mammography
Some people spread myths about mammography – telling that annual mammography should be considered as radiation which could trigger breast cancer development of could cause breast cancer to spread.
The true is that mammography requires very small doses of radiation and the possible harm is much less than the benefit (early diagnosis). The only unpleasant part of mammography is breast compression which lasts few minutes and cannot harm breast tissue.
Annual screening mammography is recommended after 40. In cases of family history of breast cancer, yearly mammography should start 10 years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis.
Another myth about mammography is if you receive negative mammogram report, it means you don’t have breast cancer. Unfortunately it is not true. In 10-15% cases mammography can miss breast cancer (depending on breast tissue tenderness). This is why in many modern hospital more modern technologies are introduces including Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) and Digital Breast Tomosynthesis.
Breast cancer myth about men
Many people believe in myth that breast cancer cannot affect men (males). They think breast cancer is female disease. It is not true. Although men suffer from breast cancer much rare than women, symptoms of breast cancer in men could be much severe and aggressive.
Male breast cancer is usually detected pretty late as hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Mortality from breast cancer in men is higher that in women because of absence of early diagnosis tools and because of absence of breast cancer awareness among men.
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.