Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women. While there are certain risk factors like genetics that cannot be changed, many lifestyle changes can aid in breast cancer prevention. However, misinformation can keep you from recognizing and minimizing your risk of breast cancer. It is important to dispel the myths and arm yourself with the facts. DR SHIVALI AHLAWAT Manager- Surgical Pathology, OncQuest Laboratories Limited reveals myths and facts related to breast cancer.
Breast cancer only affects older women
While it's true that the risk of breast cancer increases, as we grow older, breast cancer can occur at any age.
If you are at a risk factor you will get the disease
Even if you have one of the stronger risk factors, like an inherited breast cancer gene, getting breast cancer is not a certainty.
If there is no family history of cancer, you are safe
Every woman has some risk of breast cancer, which increases with age. About 80percent women who get breast cancer have no known family history of the disease. A history of breast cancer in your mother's or your father's family will influence your risk equally. That's because half of your genes come from your mother, half from your father.
Diagnosis of breast cancer is same as death sentence.
Early detection of breast cancer before it has spread; along with new treatment modalities can help improve survival rates and quality of life. Early detection is essential, hence the importance of breast self-examination and mammography.
Yearly mammograms expose one to radiation and cancer will occur as a result.
Mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breast that can detect a breast cancer when it is quite small, long before it may be felt by breast examination. 85-90 percent of all breast cancers are detectable by mammography. Thus, the benefits of annual mammograms far outweigh any risks that may occur because of the minute amount of radiation used during the procedure.
Birth control pills cause breast cancer
In the past, birth control pills used a higher dose of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. But now, the hormones are used in much lower doses, which are not in way linked to breast cancer. As with any medicine, the risks and benefits have to be weighed and then the decision has to be taken, in consultation with the doctor.
Using antiperspirants or deodorants causes breast cancer.
There is no evidence that the active ingredients in antiperspirants influences breast cancer risk.
Women with known risk factors are the only ones who get breast cancer
About 70 percent of women with breast cancer have no known risk factors. A woman's best chance of improving her odds, is to diagnose the disease at an early stage, through regular self breast examination, check-ups and mammograms.
Only women get breast cancer.
Male breast cancer is uncommon, but it does occur and is usually more aggressive in nature. Now that we have cleared the air regarding some common myths related to breast cancer, here are some important facts that you should know about breast cancer.
Most breast lumps are benign About 80 percent of breast lumps are benign, though the percentage becomes smaller as women age. Sometimes there can be lumps, cysts, nipple discharges and calcification resulting from hormonal changes, injury or infection.The breast changes that you should report to your doctor are:
Only a small percentage of cancer cases are hereditary. Researchers have identified 2 genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 that, when mutated are associated with an increased risk. Of all the risk factors involved (family history, age, early puberty or late menopause, childlessness or late childbearing), a mutated BRCA gene can account for 5percent increased risk. Another 5percent of cases are thought to be linked to genetics, but the mechanism is uncertain.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding lower risk of breast cancer. Both pregnancy and breast-feeding reduce a woman's total number of lifetime menstrual cycles, which is thought to be the reason, it helps lower your risk. Having children before age 30 also reduces risk of breast cancer.
Lifestyle changes and improved awareness may improve your odds against breast cancer.Maintain a healthy body through regular exercise, healthy diet, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. Also, examining your breasts every month, having regular check ups and mammograms, along with recognizing the risk factors for breast cancer, and its early signs, all can go a long way in raising your defenses against this disease.