Breast Cancer - Myths

by Michael Russell - Date: 2007-01-21 - Word Count: 565 Share This!

Myth: An individual will probably get breast cancer if her mother or grandmother had it.

If an individual's mother or grandmother has had breast cancer does not necessarily mean that they will end up with it even though they are in a higher risk group. Most women who end up getting breast cancer do not have a family history of it. It is recommended that you have a mammogram done if your mother, sister, grandmother or daughter had or has breast cancer.

Myth: Breast cancer is caused by the birth control pill.

This is not true. Contraceptive pills have small quantities of the hormones progesterone and estrogen which is often linked with increased risk of breast cancer. Despite the presence of these two hormones and the prolonged use for a period of 10 years and more it does not cause breast cancer. Birth control pills have some benefits too. They are, they decrease the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, they relieve pelvic inflammatory disease, menstrual disorders and they improve the bone mineral density.

Myth: Only women get breast cancer - Men do not get the disease.

This is not true. Though the percentage is smaller men do get breast cancer, therefore, it is important for men too to exam themselves monthly and report any changes noticed to their doctor immediately. In 2004, it was estimated that around 1450 men with breast cancer and that 470 will eventually die from it.

Myth: Lawn chemicals, pesticides and dry cleaning services cause breast cancer.

A few small studies have shown this as a possibility but larger studies on this subject have indicated otherwise.

Myth: You are likely to get breast cancer if you have a risk factor.

This is not so. Even if you have a breast cancer gene abnormality, which is one of the stronger risk factors, it does not mean you will end up with cancer. 40% to 80% of women with an inherited genetic abnormality, that is, BRCA1 or BRCA2 may sometime in their life develop breast cancer. 20% to 60% will not develop it. The presence of all other risk factors poses very little threat.

Myth: If you have a lump in your breast you will get breast cancer.

This is not so as it is found that eight out of ten lumps are not malignant or cancerous. If you discover any abnormalities or even a persistent lump in your breast it is best you consult your physician at once as early detection would result in better treatment and recovery.

Myth: Breast cancer will end up in death.

This is not so. 80% of the breast cancer diagnosed women show no spread of the cancer cells beyond the breast or to nearby lymph nodes. Also 80% of these women continue to live for a further five years and some even longer.

Myth: Younger women run a higher risk of breast cancer than older women.

As a woman gets older the risk of her getting breast cancer is also higher as age is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer. It is therefore important for a woman starting from the age of about forty to self examine her breasts monthly for any lumps or irregularities; get regular mammograms and a clinical breast examination done yearly in order to detect an early development of cancer. Women in the age group 20 - 40 should also carry out monthly self breast examination and clinical breast examinations every three years or so.

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