Myths and Facts
Breast Cancer

Myth: Breast cancer leads to death

Fact: if breast cancer is discovered and treated early, the cure rate can reach up to 98%. Breast cancer is one of the cancers that can be diagnosed early by mammography which is an x-ray of the breast. Due to improvement in screening procedures and treatment of breast cancer, the number of breast cancer survivors is increasing. For each disease, God has created a cure and He All Mighty has commanded us to seek steps and strive and not be lazy, we therefore must take the initiative to be regular in our check-ups and seek the doctor’s guidance and be committed to proper treatment if needed. 

Myth: Breast cancer is a curse or punishment from God.

Fact: breast cancer is a disease and anyone can be at risk of developing breast cancer especially if they may have risk factors which increase their risk. It is more a test to our faith in God and His ability to guide us to overcome hardships and seek cure and not only bear us with hardships. 

Myth: getting breast cancer depends on the size of your breast. The larger the breast, the easier it is to get breast cancer.

Fact: getting breast cancer is not related in any way to the size of the breast. All women are at risk of developing breast cancer. Breast cancer usually develops in the milk- producing cells and ducts which is present in every woman. The difference in the size of the breast depends on the amount of fat surrounding the ducts. The extra fat may make a breast self-exam or clinical breast exam or mammography a little more difficult, but there are advanced methods and techniques that allow specialists to easily examine larger breasts. It is also very important that examination of the breast is done routinely to be able to compare a new exam result with the previous.

Myth: Breast cancer is an infectious disease.

Fact: Breast cancer (and most cancers) cannot be transmitted by air from someone with cancer or by touching them or through sexual contact with someone who has cancer. Breast cancer results from uncontrolled division of breast cells to produce a tumor that pushes the surrounding tissue in the breast or spreads to other parts of the body affecting the function of the body. There is no need for caution when mixing with other women who have breast cancer who are in much need of support from family, friends and relatives during the diagnosis and management of their disease.

Myth: Women who have large breasts are at higher risk to developing breast cancer.

Fact: All women are at risk to developing breast cancer and it is not related to the size of the breast. The milk ducts which is usually where breast cancer develops is present more or less the same in women. Difference in the size of the breast is due to the amount of fat surrounding the milk ducts and not due to the increase in number of milk ducts. Larger breasts may be a bit more difficult in conducting a self-breast exam, a clinical breast exam or a mammography, but updated techniques have overcome this issue. Moreover, it is of vital importance that women routinely examine theirselves and conduct clinical breast exams so that she herself or the experts will be better able to identify any changes compared to the previous exam.

Myth: Breast cancer is related to wearing bras especially tight bras or wired ones because they press on the breast and cut off the blood supply and lymph drainage.

Fact: Breast cancer has not been found to be associated to any type of bra or garments worn by a woman.

Myth: Using deodorants can cause breast cancer.

Fact: among the many studies conducted on possible causes of breast cancer, no association relating development of breast cancer to any type of deodorant or chemical compounds used in deodorants has been proved or verified.

Myth: Direct trauma to the breast can cause breast cancer.

Fact: there is no proven association between developing breast cancer and trauma to the breast or force applied to the breast. A discoloration after trauma or bruise to the breast may trigger the examining physician to examine the breast and find an already existing lump not related to the trauma simply by chance.

Myth: Drinking water or any fluid from plastic cups can cause breast cancer.

Fact: Some women mistakenly believe that plastic cups can cause breast cancer due to the exposure of a chemical which may be used in making them named Dioxin to the sun. Dioxin is rarely used in making plastic cups which are made of materials safe for human use. There are studies that have shown that plastic cups when exposed to heat may release a compound known as Bisphenol-A (BPA) which may have an estrogenic effect but the amounts are very minute. Furthermore, no studies have shown that BPA in such minute amounts can increase the risk to developing breast cancer. For the purpose of safety, it is advised to use recyclable plastic cups and to check the tags on the bottom of the cup to make sure they carry the numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5.

Myth: Mammography can cause breast cancer.

Fact: Exposure to high levels of radiation may be a risk factor for developing cancers; however the amount of radiation emitted during mammography, especially when using the updated digital mammograms is very little equivalent to 0.1-0.2 RAD for each view. The amount of radiation a woman will be exposed to during mammography is equivalent to the amount of natural background radiation any woman can be exposed to over a period of 3 months. Furthermore, the benefits of screening greatly outweigh the risks of being exposed to such minute radiation. No study has shown a relationship between developing breast cancer and conducting a mammogram or pressing of the breasts during mammography to properly view the breasts.

Myth: A breast biopsy can cause breast cancer or spread cancer cells already in the breast.

Fact: If a lump is found in a woman’s breast and she refuses biopsy, the doctor will not be able to give her a full diagnosis and will not be able to inform her of the stage of the disease if it is cancer. It is not incorrect for a woman to expose herself to surgery she may not need nor to multiple other surgeries should the lump be found to be cancer. New techniques using smaller needles are present nowadays.

Myth: Treatment of infertility can increase the risk to developing breast cancer.

Fact: Many scientific studies conducted until now have not documented an increase risk to developing breast cancer and the use of fertility promoting medications.

Myth: Breast cancer does not occur in men.

Fact: Both women and men are at risk of developing breast cancer but the chances in women are 100 times more than men. It is important to mention here that if a father or brother of a woman develop breast cancer, she will carry the same risk to developing breast cancer as if her mother had developed breast cancer which requires routine, comprehensive exams.

Myth: I am too young to get breast cancer.

Fact: All women are at risk of developing breast cancer but the risk increases with increasing age. Breast cancer is more common after the age of 40 (87%). Young women are advised to conduct routine monthly breast self-exam after her monthly cycle and to see her doctor if she notices any changes in her breasts immediately.  It is worth mentioning that in young women, the majority of changes are due to benign causes but only her doctor can make sure.

Myth: Breast cancer only occurs in women who have a family history of breast cancer.

Fact: studies have shown that 85% of women who have breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer. And on the contrary, having a family history does not necessarily mean a woman will always develop breast cancer. Any woman who has a family history of breast cancer needs to see her doctor regularly and conduct routine tests as advised by her doctor.

Myth: Any lump in the breast is breast cancer.

Fact: 80% of lumps in the breast are benign in nature. They may be fibroadenomas or simple cysts or other benign conditions. Many changes that occur are due to hormonal changes that accompany a woman during her lifetime as she matures, pre and post menstrual cycle changes, gets pregnant or breastfeeds. Conducting a routine monthly self-breast exam after her monthly cycle will help the woman to be knowledgeable and familiar with the normal nature of her breasts and will provide her with the ability to feel any early changes that may occur upon which she should visit her doctor to clarify what these changes may be. It is also recommended that she conducts a clinical breast exam every three years from 20 -39 years of age and once a year if 40 years or older and to conduct a screening mammogram every 2 years after the age of 40 or as advised by her doctor if she is of the high risk category to developing breast cancer like having a family history of breast cancer. The earlier a cancer is found the higher the chances of survival.