While a lot of information exists about breast cancer, some of what you have heard may not be accurate. Below is a list of some common myths and facts about breast cancer.
MYTH: If I don't have a family history of breast cancer, I won't get it.
FACT: Most people diagnosed with breast cancer have no known family history.
The biggest risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and growing older. Other factors like environment and lifestyle should also be considered. However, if any close blood relative has had breast cancer, or if there is breast cancer in your family history (on either your mother or father's side), it should be taken seriously and shared with your doctor.
MYTH: If you maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, eat healthy, and limit alcohol, you don’t have to worry about breast cancer.
FACT: Although these behaviors can help lower breast cancer risk, they can't eliminate it.
It is important to manage the risk factors that can be controlled, including diet and physical activity, However, it’s also important to get regular screenings, perform breast self-exams, and be alert to any unusual changes in your breasts. Remember, no matter how healthy your lifestyle may be, there’s never a 100% guarantee you won't get breast cancer.
MYTH: Using underarm antiperspirant can cause breast cancer.
FACT: There is no evidence of a connection between underarm antiperspirant and breast cancer, but the safety of antiperspirants is still being studied. A common belief is that underarm antiperspirants containing aluminum or other chemicals increase cancer risk by being absorbed into lymph nodes, and then working their way into breast cells. Underarm nicks from shaving is also thought to increase risk, as is the belief that antiperspirants prevent toxic substances from coming out of the body. While some Studies have found that women who use aluminum products under their arms, are more to have higher concentrations of aluminum in breast tissue, there is no proven link between antiperspirant use and breast cancer.
MYTH: Annual mammograms guarantee that breast cancer will be found early.
FACT: Although mammography is the best early-detection tool we have, it doesn't always find breast cancer at an early stage.
Mammography is a very good screening tool, but it can return a false-negative result. This means the images look normal even though cancer exists.
False negative screenings are how women can have a series of normal mammograms and then be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Breast cancer could also develop and grow quickly after a woman receives a true negative mammogram.
Mammography does catch most breast cancers, though. This is why regular screenings are so important. It's also important to pay attention to any changes in your breasts, perform monthly breast self-exams and have a physical breast exam by a health professional every year.
MYTH: Breast cancer always causes a lump you can feel.
FACT: Breast cancer might not cause a lump, especially when it first develops.
Breast cancer doesn't always cause a lump. By the time it does, the cancer might have already moved beyond the breast into the lymph nodes. Although performing breast self-exams is important and should be done, it isn’t a substitute for regular screening with mammography.