With the advancement in technology and surgical intervention along with the right information and precaution, women are now able to successfully defeat breast cancer. While many of us might feel there’s already plenty of breast cancer awareness these days, it’s quite shocking how many misconceptions there are alongside the truth. Despite a lack of evidence, some misconceptions about breast cancer persist. The downside is that uncertainty and misconceptions about risk factors will also increase if people believe the myths. This can lead to unnecessary anxiety and may even hamper good decisions on prevention and treatment.
In view of October being breast cancer awareness month, let’s untangle the truth from the myth by busting seven of the most common myths about breast cancer that exists even today.
Myth # 1 – Breast cancer treatment means a mastectomy
There is a very common and fearful myth that breast cancer treatment always means mastectomy or breast removal to prevent the spread of breast cancer cells and ensure complete cure. This is not necessarily the case. Breast cancer treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation and breast-conserving surgeries like lumpectomy where only the lumps are removed. Mastectomy or breast removal surgery is only done in advanced stages of breast cancer. Breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy can be done to bring back the aesthetic appeal of the removed breasts.
Breast cancer treatment depends on the individual case and the stage of cancer. The doctor will provide a personalized treatment plan to guarantee a complete cure.
Myth # 2 – Breast cancer treatment is expensive and there is no guarantee of a cure
Breast cancer treatment depends on the plan suggested by the doctor or oncologist. The cost of breast cancer treatment in the US starts from USD 9000 while the cost of breast cancer treatment in India starts from USD 2200. The treatment is based on the surgeon chosen, the treatment plan and the facility chosen. Breast cancer treatment in India is personalised according to the patient to ensure better results. There is also a 90% success rate of breast cancer treatment in India. This breast cancer survival rate is based on the results of large numbers of people who have received treatment in India. The success rate of breast cancer treatment is gradually increasing thanks to early detection, awareness, advancement in technology and cutting-edge infrastructure.
Myth # 3 – Only women are prone to breast cancer
While there is a significantly higher prevalence of breast cancer in women than in men, men can develop breast cancer too. Most people do not think that men have breasts. Men and women both have breast tissue, but men have lower amounts than women. Men have higher mortality rates than women, possibly because men’s understanding is lower and they are less likely to assume that a lump is breast cancer, which may cause delays in seeking treatment.
Knowing the signs of male breast cancer can create more awareness and can also be detected early for better treatment. The main symptom to detect male breast cancer is to feel a hard lump below the nipple and areola and change in colour in the surrounding area.
Myth # 4 – Finding a lump in the breast means breast cancer
Breast tissue is constantly changing due to fluctuating levels of hormones, especially during menstrual and breastfeeding periods. Understanding how your breasts usually look and feel and what signs to look for is vital.
Nearly 80 per cent of lumps found in a woman’s breast is caused by benign (noncancerous) changes, cysts, or other disorders. Nonetheless, it is advised that women consult a doctor whenever they notice any changes at all because it is extremely important to detect breast cancer early. A mammogram, MRI or biopsy may be recommended by your doctor to determine if a lump is cancerous.
Although not all lumps are signs of breast cancer, it is advised to pay close attention to lumps that change over a period of time and that feel different from the rest of the breast. You should consult a doctor if you notice something unusual.
Myth # 5 – Painful sensation in the breasts means breast cancer
Breast cancer is not necessarily the reason behind soreness, discomfort or pain felt in the breasts. In the week leading up to their mensuration date, most women experience breast pain or discomfort. Certain breast conditions, such as mastitis (a breast tissue infection most commonly occurring during breastfeeding), can lead to sharp pain.
However, it is advised that if you are experiencing serious or prolonged breast pain which is not linked to the menstrual cycle, you should consult a doctor.
Myth # 6 – Women with dense and lumpy breasts are more prone to breast cancer
In the past, women with lumpy, thick, and fibrocystic breasts were believed to have a higher risk of breast cancer, however, there is no proven link. Having lumpy breasts makes it difficult to differentiate normal tissue from cancerous tissue, and hence there are possibilities of encountering false alarms. Women with fibrocystic breasts get an ultrasound done along with their mammograms.
Myth # 7 – Wearing an underwire bra can cause breast cancer
Claims that underwire bras compress the breast’s lymph system, trigger contaminants to build up and cause breast cancer, have been widely debunked as unscientific. The misconception is that wearing your bra every night or too long every day stops your pores from breathing. Sweat accumulates and builds up toxins that are thought to cause cancer of the breast. However, there is no link to breast cancer risk in neither the type of bra you wear nor the tightness of your underwear or other garments.
Debunking breast cancer myths create awareness about breast cancer and can guarantee better treatment and early detection. Being well-informed about breast cancer and the types of treatment options available adds as a morale boost to women to know that they are not alone and that there is a way to successfully defeat breast cancer.
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