Myths can sometimes sound plausible and do no harm, but wrong ideas about breast cancer can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. To some extent, myths can also hinder good prevention and treatments. In line with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to help you to differentiate the breast cancer myths from the facts. After all, being able to distinguish the two might just help save you or your loved one’s life. There are plenty of myths concerning breast cancer and here are the 5 most common ones:
5 common myths about breast cancer
Only women get breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women but it doesn’t exclude the fact that men can get it too. From 2010 to 2017, there were 32 cases of male breast cancer in the National Cancer Centre Singapore. Chances for a male to get breast cancer is extremely low, less than 1% out of all the diagnosed breast cancer in the US to be exact, because the lifetime risk for a male to be diagnosed with breast cancer is about 1:833, whereas for females is 1:8 and an approximate of 1:14 for females in Singapore. Although it is very rare, it is not out of the question for a man to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast cancer only affects middle-aged women
While it is true that growing older is one of the main risk factors for developing breast cancer, it is in no way saying that only middle-aged women can get it. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2017, about 4% of invasive breast cancers were diagnosed among women under the age of 40. Of course, 4% is considered very low as the percentage of invasive breast cancer among women in their 50s is 23% and women aged 60 to 69 have an average of 27%, but 4% is still not zero. However, in Singapore, 10% to 13% of breast cancer patients are below the age of 40, that is 6-9% more compared to the numbers in the US. This continues to prove that breast cancer is not only limited to middle-aged women.
If you have a family history, you will get it too
Cancer as a whole is mostly not hereditary with 75% to 85% of diagnosis occurring without a family history. However, many people tend to believe that if they have a family history, they will also get it. The truth is, only 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary and the rest are mostly from other factors such as age, gender and lifestyle. However, if you do have a family history, maybe from a first-degree relative, it doesn’t hurt to consider some form of regular diagnostic breast imaging and begin ten years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis.
Wearing deodorants can cause breast cancer
For some reason, people buy the idea that deodorants and antiperspirants can cause breast cancer, and that it will only get worse if the person shaves their underarms as well. The thing is, there is no scientific evidence to prove this so don’t worry! However, if you are concerned about the chemicals used in regular deodorants, there are natural options available out there.
If you detect a lump around your breast area, it means you have breast cancer
It is important to know that as much as breast self-exams are important, it cannot be a substitute for mammograms. This is because people sometimes believe that if they detect a lump, it means they have breast cancer when in fact, breast cancer doesn’t always come with a lump and only a small percentage of breast lumps turned out to be cancerous. If there really is a lump, that could mean that cancer might have already spread into the lymph nodes. There is also a misunderstanding of how the lump is not breast cancer if it is painful or the lump is not cancer if it is smooth. Any kinds of lumps that you detect should be taken seriously and be brought to medical attention.
Although myths and misconceptions can occasionally be seen as plausible, it is important to check the authenticity of the statements especially when it involves cancer or any kind of diagnosis for that matter. Don’t mistake myths as facts or the other way around and remember to always get yourself properly checked if you detect any symptoms that may lead to breast cancer. Prevention is better than cure!