Myths About Breast Cancer

Myths About Breast Cancer

As approximately 1 out of 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, all women need to be informed of their breast cancer risks. In a world full of hearsay and rumors, it is also important to know the truth and only believe what proven facts tell you. 

 Many myths commonly swirl around about breast cancer revolving around demographics, signs, symptoms, and even what you wear! Let’s debunk… 


#1: “The only people who get breast cancer are old women.” 

Breast cancer has the potential to affect anyone. While many people believe that only women over the age of 50 are diagnosed with breast cancer, the truth is that breast cancer affects all genders and all ages. While it is undoubtedly more prevalent in women, men can get breast cancer, too. Out of every 100 women diagnosed, one man will receive a breast cancer diagnosis. In fact, according to statistics, men have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer due primarily to the lack of awareness. It is also important for women of all ages to be aware of their risks. While most breast cancers occur in women over age 50, with the median age being 62, breast cancer can – and does – occur in younger women. Currently, over 250,000 women under 40 are living with breast cancer in the U.S. and at least 11,000 more will be diagnosed this year. No matter the age or gender of the patient, regular screening should be performed and any new lump or change in the breast should be taken seriously and examined by a physician.  


#2: “If I have a lump, it is definitely breast cancer.” 

As we stated, any lump or change in the breast should be taken seriously and examined by your doctor; however, just because you have a lump does not mean you have breast cancer. If fact, many breast lumps are benign and not cancerous. Non-cancerous breast tumors are abnormal growths that are not life-threatening and do not travel outside of the breast. They can, however, increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Regular exams and screenings are recommended for early detection of any lumps, resulting in better outcomes where treatment is needed. 


#3: “Antiperspirants, bras with underwire, and induced abortions cause breast cancer.” 

Potentially some of the most “well-known” myths about breast cancer are tall tales that have swirled around since we were children, including the belief that wearing certain clothing or deodorant will give you breast cancer. Three of the most common rumors are that antiperspirants, bras with underwire, and induced abortions cause breast cancer. There is no research to back these claims up. Normal breast cells become cancerous due to mutations or changes in genes, 10% being linked to your parents and 90% being linked to acquired gene changes linked to other risk factors such as diet, exercise, and hormones.  


#4: “All breast cancers form a noticeable lump.” 

As discussed, not all lumps are breast cancer; however, another myth we must discredit is that all breast cancers form a noticeable lump. In fact, many breast cancers are not detectable through self-exams or due to signs and symptoms. This is why we stress the importance of screening and mammograms – the proven most reliable way of catching breast cancer early is regular screening. Similarly, early detection and the following treatment is the most important strategy for preventing breast cancer death. Apart from screening for non-detectable lumps, let your doctor know of any breast changes such as tethering of the skin, bloody nipple discharge, and/or occasional pain. 


#5: “If I have a family history of breast cancer, I am sure to get breast cancer, too.” 

As many know, family history is often a risk factor for most types of cancers. It is often thought that if you have a close family diagnosis, because you share the same genes, that you are likely to get cancer, too. In this case, that is not the truth. While family history is listed as a risk factor, 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer. If you do find yourself with an increased risk of breast cancer, including family history, some experts recommend genetic counseling as a prevention tip.  


For more information on what you need to know about breast cancer, click the link HERE.