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Myths and Facts About Breast Cancer You Probably Didn’t Know

Myths and Facts photo
By Claudette Forbes

When it comes to National Breast Cancer Awareness in the month of October, there’s much more to it than wearing a pink ribbon in support of survivors. The point of the month is to remind your friends and family to get a screening, to spread awareness about the seriousness of the disease, as well as little known facts. And in addition, the month is dedicated to raising money to further research and advancements in the field that help in detecting and treating the disease itself. So, this month, we wanted to give you some information that helps to set the record straight when it comes to breast cancer. There are at least some myths floating around out there that we would like to bust with facts about breast cancer that you probably didn’t know.

Myth #1 – Breast Cancer Happens in Your 60s

Fact – the risk for breast cancer only increases with age, and 1/3rd of the breast cancer diagnoses that happen in the United States occur after the age of 70. About 7% of all diagnoses that occur happen in women under the age of 40. Your age doesn’t make you safe from breast cancer, and the older you get, the more likely you are to develop it. With the exception of skin cancers, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women. As a matter of fact, 30% of women with cancer have breast cancer. The average age of diagnosis is 62 years old. Sadly, a woman’s lifetime risk for acquiring breast cancer in the United States is about 13% which is a 1 in 8 probability of development.

If these statistics seem a little frightening, then it’s time to take them into consideration and make sure that you get screened. Early detection leads to more treatment options and better chances for survival.

Myth #2 – Breast Cancer Starts with a Lump in Your Breast

Fact – any change in breast size, shape, texture, and even color can be a sign that breast cancer is present. Breast cancer doesn’t always start with a lump, there are many symptoms that occur in many different places including the armpits and collarbone. These include:

  • Swelling, lumps, or masses in the breast, armpit, or collarbone area
  • Unusual breast pain or discomfort in the chest or armpit areas
  • Nipple discharge or pain, usually spontaneously and from the affected side only
  • Inverted nipple or scaly or pitted skin on the nipple

Make certain that when you perform a breast self-examination you are looking for symptoms both visually and physically. Regular self-exams, as well as exams by your physician at your yearly well-woman visit, and your annual mammogram should help you notice any changes. If you notice anything at all that is abnormal, contact your physician immediately.

Myth #3 – Breast Cancer is Hereditary

Fact – only about 15% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have someone significant in the family who also has the condition. Instead of focusing on the genetics, remember that 1 in 8 women end up diagnosed with breast cancer. This should remind you that screening is important regardless of whether your mother, grandmother, or aunt had breast cancer. On the other hand, if you have a close family member who ended up with a breast cancer diagnosis, you should inform your physician so that they can help you determine if you need to schedule more than 1 mammogram a year to keep an eye on it, especially as you get older.

Ensuring that your physician has an accurate description of your family medical history is an important part of being proactive when it comes to your health, but it isn’t everything. You can have a higher chance for breast cancer due to a number of environmental factors, so keep that in mind.

Myth #4 – A Breast Cancer Diagnosis is a Death Sentence

Fact – early detection and treatment is the key to the higher survival rates. Actually, the statistics state that an early diagnosis coupled with treatments received immediately puts survival at 96% for most individuals. The earlier you are able to detect, screen, and diagnose breast cancer, the more likely you are to beat it. This means that the best thing you can do to ensure survival is to make sure that you’re getting your annual screening.

Myth #5 – Only Women Get Breast Cancer

Fact – almost 2,500 men a year are diagnosed with breast cancer. When it comes to men, the first sign is almost always a lump or mass found in the chest, usually directly behind the nipple. When it comes to survival of breast cancer for men, the same rules apply, early detection and treatment leads to a higher survival rate.

Don’t forget that if you have a loved one who has currently been diagnosed with cancer of any kind that as a family caregiver, you need to do the best that you can to stay healthy! Don’t forget to take time out of your caregiving schedule for your yearly well-woman visits and mammograms. If you have a hard time getting free from your caregiving responsibilities, contact us for respite care services, we can take over for a few hours so you can take care of yourself. Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Woodbridge is here for you. It is always a privilege to provide our clients with compassionate and professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.

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