10 Breast Cancer Myths Busted
Ahead of the 10th annual Pink Caravan Ride, we seek to dispel the misinformation surrounding breast cancer and its treatment
Sharjah, February 23, 2020: Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer, and the leading cause of cancer deaths in the UAE, according to the UAE National Cancer Registry. However, not everything you hear about breast cancer is true. There are many myths regarding the disease that has led to delays in detection and treatment that could have possibly saved lives. Here, we separate the fact from the fiction:
Myth 1: Only women get breast cancer
Fact: While the incidence of breast cancer in women is significantly higher than in men, men can get breast cancer too.
Many people don’t think of men as having breasts. In fact, both men and women have breast tissue, although men have much smaller amounts than women. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment. The symptoms of male breast cancer include a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola and colour changes in the surrounding area.
Myth 2: Breast cancer only occurs in post-menopausal women
Fact: While it is true that the older a woman is, the higher the risk of contracting breast cancer, the fact is that it does occur in younger women too.
Although breast cancer in young women is rare, they can develop breast cancer at any stage of their lives after attaining puberty. That is why the Pink Caravan Ride promotes examinations for people of all ages. However, lifestyle choices such as exercising, eating healthy and quitting smoking can reduce the chances.
Young women also have a higher mortality rate and higher risk of metastatic recurrence (return of breast cancer in areas beyond the breast). Being aware of your breasts is very important. Become familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel and, if you notice a change, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Myth 3: Breast cancer is a hereditary disease
Fact: Research shows that only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are caused by hereditary factors. The other 90 percent are largely due lifestyle and environmental factors.
Cancer is a complex group of diseases with many possible causes, including lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and physical activity. The risk of developing breast cancer can be lowered by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, proper diet and exercising regularly.
The risk in a person believing this myth is that they might think there is nothing they can do to prevent breast cancer if it is already in their family. Genetic testing, included in Pink Caravan Ride’s offerings, can help you understand your inherited risk and allow you to make choices about your future care. High-risk women may choose to have a prophylactic mastectomy to decrease their risk.
Myth 4: Mammograms are unsafe because they give out too much radiation
Fact: One of the common misconceptions about mammograms is that it involves high doses of radiation and causes more harm than good. However, mammograms remain the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer. Modern mammography equipment can produce high quality breast images with low doses of radiation.
There is no doubt that the benefits of early detection and early treatment of breast cancer far outweigh the possible harm from the very low dose radiation exposure by mammograms.
Myth 5: Surgery Causes Breast Cancer to Spread
Fact: Breast cancer surgery is often curative, and many women need to have breast surgery along with treatment advised by the oncology doctor.
The idea that cancer could be aggravated through surgery is rooted in a misunderstanding about how cancer spreads. Tumour cells increase in number by replicating. They can be aggressive and may invade nearby or distant tissue through expansion or by the invasion of lymphatic vessels.
However, the spread of breast cancer occurs due to the biology of the cells themselves and not due to surgery.
Myth 6: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer
Fact: Don’t panic if you find a lump in your breast. Most breast lumps are caused by benign (noncancerous) changes, cysts, or other conditions. In fact, research shows that nearly 80 percent of all breast lumps are non-cancerous. Breast tissue is changing all the time because of fluctuating hormone levels, especially during times of menstruation and breastfeeding.
It could also be due to certain medications, especially hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, among others. However, lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast), or change over time, should always be checked by your doctor.
Myth 7: Pregnant woman don’t need to worry about getting breast cancer
Fact: While the occurrence of breast cancer during pregnancy is rare, the fact is that women can develop breast cancer at any point in their lives. If you find a lump or notice any changes in your breasts that concern you, consult your doctor right away. There are a variety of tests a pregnant woman can have if breast cancer is suspected. There are options for treating breast cancer in pregnant women too.
Myth 8: All breast cancer is treated the same way
Fact: There are various forms of treatment for cancer, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and medical oncology treatment . Generally, one or more methods are adopted to create a patient’s overall treatment plan and may combine different types of treatments depending on the characteristics of the cancer.
The biology and behaviour of breast cancer affects the treatment plan. Some tumours are smaller but grow quickly, while others are larger and grow slowly. Treatment options and recommendations are very personalised and depend on these and several other factors.
Myth 9: When treatment is over, you are done with breast cancer
Fact: While treatment may have been completed successfully, a breast cancer survivor has to remain vigilant, testing at regular intervals to be sure that the disease is being kept at bay. This is the reason the Pink Caravan Ride emphasises so strongly on the importance of regular checkups, especially for women who have gone through breast cancer previously.
Myth 10: Breast cancer is difficult to cure
Fact: The key to curing breast cancer is early detection. Over the years, the Pink Caravan Ride has proved to the community that it is possible to treat cancer successfully when is detected on time. Research has shown that 98 percent of breast cancer cases can be cured when detected early, and you just have to take a look at the survivors who are a part of our campaign to know that there is indeed life after cancer.
The Pink Caravan Ride will continue breaking myths surrounding breast cancer through its activations and initiatives and spread awareness that breast cancer is a medical condition like many others which can be treated with an extremely high success rate, providing it is identified at the earliest opportunity.