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The Myths vs. Realities of Breast Cancer

How much do you really know about breast cancer? Common misconceptions surrounding the actual causes of breast cancer often lead to needless worry and can even hinder early prevention and treatment decisions for many women.

Understanding the myths vs. realities surrounding breast cancer is the first step towards recognizing your risks, the importance of early detection screenings, and if need be- various treatment options.

6 Common Myths about Breast Cancer

1. Myth: If breast cancer runs in my family, I am likely to develop breast cancer too

Truth: Only 5% to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, meaning they are caused be abnormal genes being passed from parent to child. The other 90% are primarily due to lifestyle and environmental factors. Research shows, only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of the disease.

2. Myth: Eating a healthy diet will make me immune to breast cancer

Truth: Diet does play a role in cancer development, but not by itself. No one food or vitamin will prevent breast cancer, just like no one food will cause breast cancer.

3. Myth: I am too young or too old to get breast cancer  

Truth: Breast cancer can affect women of any age. The disease is more common in post-menopausal women, but 25 percent of women with breast cancer are younger than 50. Common misconceptions surrounding the causes of breast cancer can typically needless worry and even hinder good prevention and treatment decisions.

4. Myth: I found a lump in my breast so I must have cancer

Truth: Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. But if you discover a persistent lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, it should never be ignored.

5. Myth: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread

Truth: Breast compression while getting a mammogram cannot cause cancer to spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, “The benefits of mammography, however, nearly always outweigh the potential for harm from the radiation exposure. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low.”

6. Myth: Breast implants can raise your cancer risk

Truth: Women with breast implants are at no greater risk of getting breast cancer, according to research. Standard mammograms don’t always work as well on these women, however, so additional x-rays are sometimes needed to more fully examine the breast tissue. 

MedicAlert Team Member