Busting Breast Cancer myths | Dr. Deepak Jha
The number of cancer cases is fast rising and hence remaining ignorant about this disease is no more an option. It’s important for both women and men to educate themselves about Breast Cancer so that they can make informed decisions about screening, risk reduction, and treatment options. Lack of correct information gives birth to several myths about Breast Cancer which skews our judgment. Let’s look at some of these myths and get the more ‘informed answer’.
Myth: Breast Cancer only affects those whose families have a history of Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer is genetic.
Fact: Breast Cancer can happen to anyone. 90% of cases do not have any family history. Family history does increase the risk but does not mean Breast Cancer is genetic and that it will definitely lead to breast cancer. It’s important for all women to get mammograms regularly. All women above 40, are advised to get mammograms done regularly.
Myth: You’ll get breast cancer if you carry the BRCA gene
Fact: Everyone has the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which helps in cell growth, division, and repairing damage to DNA. However, there are specific mutations (changes) in these genes that can be passed down in families and increase the risk of developing Breast cancer. About 5 to 10 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer carry this mutation.
Testing positive for these mutations does mean a high risk (up to 85%) of breast cancer and ovarian cancer but is not a marker of guaranteed cancer. Similarly, a negative test result doesn’t mean you will not develop cancer.
Myth: Antiperspirants, bras, hair dyes, dairy, and cell phones contribute to causing Breast Cancer.
Fact: Breast cancer has been linked to lifestyle and environmental factors. To help lower your risk, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and limit your alcohol intake. However, Antiperspirants, bras, hair dyes, dairy, and cell phones have not been found to contribute towards causing Breast Cancer
Myth: People with breast cancer always find a lump.
Fact: Most lumps in the breast are not cancerous, and not all with cancer can feel a lump. In the beginning, most breast cancers may not cause lumps and are detected by mammography. Talk to your doctor if you feel a lump or notice changes in your breast that concern you. Breast or nipple pain, breast swelling, skin irritation, nipple retraction (turning inward), or scaliness of the nipple of skin are all symptoms. Regular mammograms help identify breast abnormalities before they can be seen and are a must for women above 45 years.
Myth: Breast implants increase your risk of cancer.
Fact: According to research women with breast implants are at no greater risk of getting Breast Cancer than women without them. Breast implants may make reading mammograms difficult, so additional X-rays are sometimes needed to more fully examine breast tissue. Breast implants do not increase your risk of cancer.
Myth: Men can’t get breast cancer.
Fact: Although very rare, breast cancer is not exclusive to females. Men constitute 0.4-1% of all breast cancer cases. Any abnormal growth should be checked with your doctor.
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