Five Common Misconceptions About Breast Cancer

Despite the fact that breast cancer is a more well-known and frequently discussed cancer, there are still numerous myths surrounding it. Medically, breast cancer is a condition in which cells begin to grow out of control, frequently resulting in an obvious lump upon physical examination.

There are different types of breast cancer, based on the type of cells found in the affected breasts. Invasive ductal carcinoma, a kind of breast cancer in which cells proliferate outside the breast ducts, is one of the most prevalent.

Several breast cancer myths are false, and this has caused many women to fear, thus leading them to look for both medical and non-medical solutions. It is only reasonable to be curious about potential causes after learning that you have breast cancer. 

Although no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer, some risk factors may increase the chances of developing this disease or may serve as a pointer to the underlying breast cancer. What we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA.

Some common misconceptions about breast cancer 

  • Men do not get breast cancer; It affects women only: Although breast cancer is the most commonly thought of as a disease that affects women, breast cancer does occur in men. Male breast cancer is a rare cancer that forms in the breast tissue of men. Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola.  Men carry a higher mortality than women. Normally men postpone treatment for breast cancer due to the fact that awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is transmittable: Breast cancer is not a contagious disease. It is the result of uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that start to spread into different tissues within the breast. However, you may reduce your chances of affection by adopting a healthy lifestyle; being aware of the risk factors, and following an early detection plan so that it may be diagnosed early if breast cancers were to occur.
  • A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread: An X-ray examination of the breast is called a mammogram. Breast disease is recognized and diagnosed using it. Right now, it serves as the gold standard for finding breast cancer early. The National Cancer Institute states that “the advantages of mammography almost often outweigh the potential risks from the radiation exposure. Radiation dosages needed for mammograms are incredibly low. This radiation exposure carries a very minimal risk of injury. Therefore, breast compression during mammography cannot lead to the spread of cancer.
  • Only those with a family history of breast cancer are likely to develop it: Some people have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than the general population because other members of their family have had particular cancers. This is called a family history of cancer. Having a mother, sister or daughter (first-degree relative) diagnosed with breast cancer approximately doubles the risk of breast cancer. But most women who have breast cancer have no family history and some who have a close relative with breast cancer will never develop it. While having a family history of breast cancer is a risk factor, it is not generally a determining factor, hence it is advised to seek medical attention.
  • Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer: Breast lumps that turn out to be cancer are uncommon. However, you should never disregard any changes in breast tissue or a new, persistent lump you find in your breast. You must visit a doctor for a clinical breast exam, which is crucial. He or she can request breast imaging tests to establish whether or not this lump is of concern or not. 

As we mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, it is important to note that cancer (not only breast cancer) is not a death sentence. It is curable, it’s okay to be afraid to get screened but don’t let fear cause you to lose your life. Take charge of your health by performing routine breast self-exams, establishing ongoing communication with your doctor, getting an annual clinical breast exam, and scheduling your routine screening mammograms.

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To carry out breast self-examination, here are some ways;

  1. Put one’s arm behind your head while lying on your back. Move your palm gently in circular motions while placing your three middle fingers flat on your breast to feel for lumps, knots, or thickening. Do this all over your breasts, covering the region between your collarbone and the ribs directly below your breast. As your fingers travel, moderately apply pressure. Do the same for the opposite breast with the other hand and behind your head.
  2. Straighten your body, strengthen your left arm, and use the appropriate hand to feel for bumps in your arm. Examine your nipple for any fluid or discharge by squeezing it between your thumb and index finger. Repeat the process on the other breast.
  3. Stand in front of a mirror together with your arms in your waist and observe your breast.  Look out for any changes in size, shape, swelling, or dimpling of the skin.

These are best done within the first week after menstruation. Report any uncommon observation to a health professional. 

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