If there’s a fact, there are ten rumours and myths attached. While a few myths actually do good, like ‘A mother bird will reject its baby if it’s been touched by a human’ preventing people from mishandling birds, a few can be harmful. Especially myths surrounding health issues and conditions. Lack of awareness and the tendency to treat it as a taboo subject has kept many from understanding breast cancer, hindering diagnosis and treatment as a result.
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For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, TC46 teamed up with Fortis to bring much-needed awareness to the condition. In conversation with TC46, the Head of Advanced OncoSurgery Unit, Surgical Oncologist Dr Anil Heroor of Fortis Hospital Mumbai helps debunk popular myths about breast cancer.
Myth 1: A breast injury can cause breast cancer
No, breast injury cannot cause breast cancer. It may cause swelling and bruise on one’s breast with pain, but it cannot be the leading cause of cancer. There is no scientific data to back up the myth either. In some cases, a minor injury may lead to fat necrosis, i.e., a benign (non-cancerous) lump that happens when a part or area of the fatty breast tissue is damaged. This condition is more common in women with larger breasts. It is nothing but scar tissue that develops when the body repairs the damaged fatty breast tissue.
Myth 2: No one in my family had breast cancer, so I won’t develop it
A very false and misleading statement. To burst the bubble, 75% of breast cancer cases are in women with no family history of the disease. However, having a family member (parent, sibling, offspring) or close kin with breast cancer highly increases almost doubles the chances and risk factors of the disease in one.
Myth 3: Breast cancer only happens to older adults
No, breast cancer can affect anyone at any age for that matter. Globally, 5% of the breast cancer cases are among women under the age of 40yrs, so it doesn’t just happen to older adults. Everyone must be aware of the risk factors which put them in danger.
Myth 4: Men do not get breast cancer
It is an often-misunderstood statement that only women get Breast Cancer. In reality, though rare, men too can develop the disease. Statistically, men account for 1% of every Breast Cancer case. Studies suggest that the mortality rate for men with Breast Cancer is comparatively higher than women because – a lack of awareness, shame and embarrassment from symptoms such as enlarged breasts, which cause a delay in detection and treatment. However, with time, the incidence of male Breast Cancer has started to gain more prominence.
Myth 5: All lumps in the breast signal breast cancer
No, not all lumps in the breast signal breast cancer, many are benign cysts like Fibroadenoma (frequent in women younger than 50). However, they are the most common symptom of the disease. These lumps are mostly hard and painless, but some may be painful, it varies. That being said, it is always better to get a consultation and diagnosis to know for sure than to be unaware of the harmful disease.
Myth 6: Deodorants can cause breast cancer
There is no substantial scientific or medical evidence to prove that deodorants cause breast cancer. The assumed theory is that the harmful chemicals and toxins in the deodorants accumulate in the breast lymph nodes, damaging the healthy cells and making them cancerous. However, not enough studies or reports are there to prove this claim.
Myth 7: Nipple piercings increase breast cancer risk
Nipple piercings do not increase one’s breast cancer risk. Though, there are some health side-effects with symptoms that resemble that of breast cancer. Some of the common adverse effects from nipple piercings are nerve damage, infections, hematoma, i.e., blood cysts, scarring which may block the milk ducts. If you’re getting a piercing, ensure that it is from a hygienic and safe place to avoid the risk of possible harmful infections like Hepatitis B.
Myth 8: Mammograms cause breast cancer to spread
No mammograms do not let breast cancer spread. Yes, there is radiation but the exposure is very limited, hence, risks are extremely low. This breast examination is essential to diagnose the disease.
Myth 9: If there is no lump, there is no cancer
Though lumps in the breast, armpits, around the collarbone are the most commonly occurring symptom of breast cancer, it is not the only sign. Some other exhibitory signs to be aware of are:
- Discharge from the nipple
- Flaky skin or cracking of the nipple
- Dimpling around the nipple
- Breast swelling
- Visual difference; skin changes on the breast
- Inward nipple
- Changes in breast contour
- Sudden increase in breast size over a short period of time
- Changes in touch- the breast may feel stiff, tender or warm
- Vein Patterns such as an increase in the number or size
Myth 10: Sleeping with a bra causes breast cancer
There is no credible source that suggests sleeping with a bra causes cancer. Some other myths around this include that an underwire bra causes breast cancer by blocking the lymph nodes, however, again there is no proof for it.
Read this and stop worrying about sagging breasts.