Debunking misconceptions related to breast cancer

Unless people experience breast cancer in their own lives, or they’re close to someone who does, they might not be able to separate myth from fact when it comes to this disease: who gets it and why, for example, or what treatment involves. True, breast cancer is one of the better-known and more-talked-about cancers, but there are still so many misconceptions out there. Clarification will lead to better understanding, and better health. Below are a few of the most common misconceptions which we have debunked

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To prevent serious consequences, it is important to debunk them and shed light on science-based facts. Here are a few common myths about breast cancer you may have come across:

Only women are at risk of developing breast cancer

Men are born with a small amount of breast tissue which means they are also at risk of developing breast cancer. The likelihood is, of course, much lower compared to women who have a higher amount of breast tissue – men account for less than 1 – 2 per cent of all breast cancers.

As per Dr Sanjay Dudhat, head of Surgical Oncology at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, the most common misconception about breast cancer is it’s limited to women-hood.

He informed, “1% to 2% of all breast cancer cases are male breast cancers and many are completely unaware of it. As per our observation, the incidence rate is gradually increasing and we are treating more male breast cancer cases than in past.  This (the statistical increase in cases) is alarming for the society because breast cancer in men is relatively more aggressive than in women. Hence, once diagnosed, the treatment needs to start immediately and more aggressively,” said Dr Dudhat.

He added that more awareness needs to be created about breast cancer in men to encourage early clinical detection and easy self-diagnostic practices such as Self-Breast Examination.

Breast cancer can only affect older women

The truth is all women are at risk of breast cancer! Although rare, young women can get breast cancer, even in their 20s!

“Only older women, of 45 years and above are at the risk of breast cancer is the second most common misconception,” stated Dr Dudhat. He said the age bar for breast cancer detection has dropped with recent years witnessing women as young as 25 years and above undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Using antiperspirants could increase the risk of cancer

The National Cancer Institute (USA) states that there is no scientific evidence to link antiperspirant use and breast cancer.

Aluminium, an ingredient found in antiperspirants, can be toxic in high doses – but the amount you are exposed to when using antiperspirant is too minimal to have any such effect, especially given that your body does not absorb it.

“Your skin is biologically designed to keep all the bad things out, and it actually does a great job at that. It’s a really good barrier,” Teri Greiling, an associate professor of dermatology at the Oregon Health & Science University, told Tonic.

Breast cancer is contagious. And can spread from one person to another.

A breast cancer patient has to remove the entire breast after diagnosing from the diseases.

Every patient has to undergo chemotherapy.

Dr Sandeep Bipte, a consultant oncologist at S L Raheja Hospital, Mahim, said, “People have a lot of misconceptions in their minds when it comes to breast cancer. One of the most common is one is that it is contagious. It is absolutely not true. Actually, when the patient is with his/her relatives, their confidence gets a boost to fight with cancer.”

He added, “Doctors always try for breast conservative surgery to save the breast of the patient. Unless it is absolutely necessary, the breast is removed.”

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.

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.