Myths vs. facts about breast cancer

Myths vs. facts about breast cancer

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer, the world’s most prevalent cancer. Here’s debunking five common myths about the disease.

By Dr. Poovamma CU

There are several myths about breast cancer. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s raise awareness about some common myths and facts related to the public health issue.

Myth 1: Only women get breast cancer.

Fact: Men can also get breast cancer, as they have breast tissue. Male breast cancer is more common among older men, although it can happen to men of any age.

Myth 2: Lump on your breast means you have breast cancer.

Fact: While lumps can be a symptom of breast cancer, there are many non-cancerous/benign lumps, such as cysts and breast abscesses. It is best to consult a doctor for proper screening and check-up.

Myth 3: Deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer.

Fact: Many people believe that the harmful chemicals in these products are absorbed into the lymph nodes and spread to the breast cells, causing cancer. However, there is no evidence linking either antiperspirants or deodorants to breast cancer.

Myth 4: Breast cancer has only one treatment option.

Fact: Breast cancer treatment is specific to each patient and differs based on how the cancer affects him or her. After taking into consideration various factors, such as, the size, stage and grade of cancer, whether the cancer is linked to an inherited genetic mutation, etc., the team of medical experts decides on the treatment modality. This may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, target therapy drugs, immunotherapy, or palliative care.

Myth 5: If you lead a healthy lifestyle, you do not need to worry about getting breast cancer.

Fact: Although eating a balanced diet, reducing alcohol consumption, and exercising regularly can help lower your risk of breast cancer, they cannot eliminate it. It is still important to perform breast self-exams and get regular breast screenings to rule out the possibility of breast cancer.

(The author is a Senior Consultant and Director - Breast Oncology, Cytecare Cancer Hospitals, Bengaluru, India.)