Women are bombarded with information about breast cancer—and much of it is wrong. Here’s the truth behind some of the most common misconceptions:
Myth: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.
Fact: If you find a lump or notice any other changes in your breasts, see your healthcare provider. But eight out of 10 breast lumps are benign or not cancerous. Don’t avoid seeing your doctor because you’re afraid of what he or she may find. Take charge of your health by doing routine breast self-exams and having regular mammograms.
Myth: Men don’t get breast cancer.
Fact: Each year, approximately 1,900 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Men should give themselves regular breast self-exams and mention any changes, such as skin dimpling or puckering, redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin, to their doctors, too.
Myth: Pregnancy increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
Fact: There’s been a concern that if you were treated for breast cancer in the past, high hormone levels during pregnancy might increase the chance of the cancer coming back. But pregnancy doesn’t increase this risk—as long as the cancer didn’t spread beyond the breast and your treatment was successful. Doctors often counsel women to wait at least two years after breast cancer treatment before becoming pregnant, as most recurrences happen during that time.
Myth: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you’re destined to get diagnosed, too.
Fact: Women who have a family history of breast cancer are at higher risk, but a family history isn’t a death sentence. If any of the women in your family have had breast cancer, get a yearly mammogram and MRI starting at age 30. And even if you have a greater risk, your doctor may recommend preventive medications or surgery to lower your likelihood of developing the disease.
Myth: Using antiperspirants and deodorants causes breast cancer.
Fact: According to the American Cancer Society, there’s no proof that using antiperspirants or deodorants causes breast cancer. Some people claim that these products contain harmful ingredients that could be absorbed through small nicks caused by shaving, but there’s no evidence to support this.