7 breast cancer misconceptions
Our nation spends more money on breast cancer research than any other type of cancer. Still, many women are confused about the basics, like the signs, symptoms and treatments.
“With the deluge of information, tips and advice about breast cancer these days, it’s easy to get lost,” says Dr. Heidi Memmel, a breast surgeon at Advocate Health Care. “It’s more important than ever that women have a clear understanding of the issues.”
Dr. Memmel shares 7 of the biggest misconceptions to separate fact from the fiction:
1. Fiction: If I have no family history of breast cancer, then I am not at risk.
Fact: Approximately 70 percent to 75 percent of women who develop breast cancer have no family history.
2. Fiction: There is nothing I can do to reduce my risk of developing breast cancer.
Fact: We can’t completely prevent cancer, but we can reduce the risks by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, quitting smoking, and reducing our alcohol consumption.
3. Fiction: My mammogram was normal, so I don’t have to worry about getting breast cancer.
Fact: Mammograms are a good annual screening tool, but they do not detect all breast cancers. It is still important to perform a self-breast exam once a month and have a doctor’s exam once a year.
4. Fiction: Underwire bras can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Fact: Underwire bras or trauma to the breast do not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
5. Fiction: Cancer cells can spread during a biopsy.
Fact: Cancer cells do not spread from a biopsy. A biopsy can confirm that cancerous cells are present.
6. Fiction: I’ve been cancer-free for five years from my diagnosis, so there is no chance of it returning.
Fact: There is less risk of a cancer returning in the breast or elsewhere in the body after five to 10 years, but there is still a slight risk. It’s important to see a doctor regularly and have regular mammograms.
7. Fiction: My weight and the size of my breasts do not affect my risk of breast cancer.
Fact: Obesity significantly increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Obese women are more likely to be diagnosed with more aggressive tumors and diagnosed at a more advanced stage.
For more information on breast health, visit www.Storiesofthegirls.com.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.