10 Misconceptions About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, isn’t talked about often. But when it is talked about, it’s not always based on facts. So, how can you tell the difference between fact and fiction? Below are 10 misconceptions about breast cancer.

  1. Only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk. While women with a family history are at higher risk, statistically speaking, only 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history.
     
  2. There’s nothing you can do to decrease your breast cancer risk. There are many things you can do to decrease your breast cancer risk. Maintain a healthy diet, limit your fat intake, exercise regularly and perform routine breast self-exams are some examples.
     
  3. A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread. A mammogram is an X-ray of your breast and is the best way to detect breast cancer. While mammograms require a small dose of radiation, the risk of harm from this exposure is extremely low. The benefits always outweigh the risk.
     
  4. Antiperspirants and deodorants cause cancer. There is no known link between antiperspirants or deodorants and breast cancer.
     
  5. Only women can develop breast cancer. While the risk is low, men can develop breast cancer and carry a higher mortality rate. This is because men are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, so it is just as important that men perform routine breast self-exams.
     
  6. All lumps mean breast cancer. If you find a lump during a routine a self-exam, there is no need to panic. Many of these lumps are caused by cysts (fluid-filled sacs) or scar tissue. Other symptoms of breast cancer include pain, swelling, redness or thickening of the skin. And always discuss any breast changes with your doctor.
     
  7. Breast implants raise your breast cancer risk. Women with breast implants are at no more risk than other women. However, standard mammograms don’t always see as well for women with implants, so additional X-rays might be necessary to fully examine breast tissue.
     
  8. Coffee can cause breast cancer. Just as with antiperspirants and deodorants, there is no known link between caffeine and breast cancer. In fact, research has shown that caffeine may lower your risk.
     
  9. Birth control pills cause breast cancer. In the 1990s, there were studies that showed birth control users had a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. However, since then, the formulations contain much lower doses of the hormones linked to those risks.
     
  10. Everyone’s breast cancer is the same. As a person’s genetic make-up is different, so, too, is the biology of a tumor. Some breast cancers are small, yet aggressive. Some grow slowly and are not life-threatening. The treatments and outcomes for each patient are different.

An estimated one of eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. If you have additional questions about breast cancer, or if you’d like to learn more about it, download the Mercy Breast Cancer Treatment Guide.