There are a lot of facts about breast cancer. For example, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of myths and misconceptions about the disease. Here we provide the truth behind some of the most misunderstood aspects of breast cancer.
Only women can get breast cancer
Men can get breast cancer, too. But they typically don’t receive regular screenings so by the time it’s identified, they are often at a higher disease stage. Most male breast cancer is genetic. If there are men in your family who have had breast cancer, you need to get regular physical exams with your doctor.
Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer
Most lumps are not cancerous and are instead benign cysts or growths within the breast. However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution if you find a lump in your breast. See your doctor for a physical exam and imaging.
Younger women can’t get breast cancer
Breast cancer affects women of all ages – even those as young as 20 years old. Risk factors for getting breast cancer at a younger age include a family history of the disease and genetic mutations. Talk to your doctor if you have a first-degree relative who had breast cancer at a younger age. To learn more, read How is Breast Cancer in Young Women Different.
You only get breast cancer if you have a family history of the disease
Up to 80 percent of women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. All women are susceptible, which makes it especially important to do regular breast self-exams and get annual mammograms.
Using antiperspirant and deodorant can cause breast cancer
Studies that have examined parabens and aluminum to see if they have any correlation with breast cancer have determined there is not a direct relationship between breast cancer and these common antiperspirant and deodorant ingredients.
Eating sugar can cause breast cancer
Although eating sugar doesn’t cause breast cancer, having an increased body mass index and obesity are considered direct risk factors. Estrogen is stored in fat, so more fat means greater estrogen levels, increasing your susceptibility to breast cancer. Eating a healthy diet that focuses on vegetables and fruit, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Wearing an underwire bra causes breast cancer
There’s a common myth that wearing an underwire bra can impair circulation and lead to breast cancer. However, this is completely unfounded and there is no correlation between wearing an underwire bra and breast cancer.
Mammograms cause breast cancer
Some people believe the radiation in mammograms can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. But the amount of radiation is extremely low – about the same amount that you get during a conventional airplane flight. Mammograms are one of the best tools for discovering breast cancer during its earliest – and most treatable – stages, making the benefits of getting one far greater than the potential risks.
You don’t need a mammogram if you’re healthy
Breast cancer does not discriminate and all women have the same 1 in 8 risk of getting the disease. It’s worth noting that breast cancer is not related to other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Even if you’re in excellent health you are still vulnerable.
Everyone’s breast cancer is the same
Biologically, every breast cancer is unique. It can form in multiple locations and there are more than 15 different subtypes of breast cancer – each requiring special treatment. No two breast cancers are alike.
Treatment is always the same for breast cancer
When most people think of breast cancer treatment, they think it’s just a matter of choosing mastectomy or lumpectomy. But there are many other treatments available. A new option is oral or IV medication to shrink disease before surgery. We also do more genetic testing which allows us to come up with a targeted approach.
Learn more about breast cancer at Edward-Elmhurst Health
Edward-Elmhurst Health takes an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to diagnosing and treating breast cancer. This allows us to provide all of the services patients need under one roof. Whether a patient requires surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or even genetic testing, they can get it done in the same place, often even on the same day. To learn more about breast cancer diagnosis and treatment at Edward-Elmhurst Health, visit us online or call 630-646-2273.