Although many advances have been made in breast cancer detection and treatment
over the last quarter century, the fact is we still don’t know much
about the causes or cures. This leaves many people misunderstanding the
facts. It’s time we dispel those myths and replace them with what
we know is true about breast cancer in 2009.
1. Myth: I’m too young to worry about breast cancer.
Fact: While it’s true that your breast cancer risk increases as you get
older, the fact is that women of all ages are at risk for developing breast cancer.
2. Myth: There’s never been a case of breast cancer in my family so I don’t
need to worry about it happening to me.
Fact: The truth is the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t
have a family history of this common cancer. However, if your mother or
sister ever had breast cancer your risk is significantly increased.
3. Myth: I don’t have a mutated breast cancer gene, BRCA1 or BRCA2, so I’m
sure breast cancer is not in my future.
Fact: Don’t fool yourself! Not having a breast cancer gene does not mean
you won’t get breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society,
the truth is that almost all women (90 to 95 percent) diagnosed with breast
cancer have neither a family history nor mutated BRCA genes.
4. Myth: The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer had more than one risk
factor prior to diagnosis.
Fact: All women are at risk for developing breast cancer whether they have known
risk factors. In fact, the majority of breast cancer patients had no known
risk factors, other than being female, for this frightening disease.
5. Myth: Breast cancer is preventable.
Fact: Although drugs classified as anti estrogens, such as Tamoxifen or Evista®,
may decrease breast cancer risk in certain women, the cause of breast
cancer remains unknown and is not completely preventable. The real key
to surviving breast cancer is early detection and treatment.
6. Myth: Having yearly mammograms will expose me to too much radiation and result
in developing cancer.
Fact: According to the American College of Radiology, the benefits of annual
mammograms far outweigh any risks that may occur because of the minute
amount of radiation used during this screening procedure that can detect
disease before it can be felt as a lump.
7. Myth: I’m not going to breastfeed because breastfeeding would increase
my risk of getting breast cancer.
Fact: Just the opposite is true. Breastfeeding may actually decrease the risk
of breast cancer.
So what can you do? In 2009 the recommendations are as follows: Monthly
self breast exams. Annual examinations with your physician. Annual mammograms after 40 years of age.