Family history of breast cancer, lumps mistaken for tumours, and other myths

5 May 2016

Can someone with no family history get breast cancer? Does the type of bra you are wearing affect your risk? What about having implants? If a lump is found, is it definitely cancer? And, does breast cancer affect women only?

 

“Breast cancer only affects women”

Where does the myth come from?

This is by far the biggest breast cancer myth of all, as it is reasonable to think that men cannot get breast cancer. It is also true that breast cancer in men is a rather rare disease. As a result, a lot of the information and the majority of breast cancer campaigns focus on women.

The reality behind the myth

Although breast cancer occurs mainly in women, men get breast cancer too. Given the fact that they also have breast tissue, they can also develop cancer in that part of their body. It is estimated that more than 2000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the US, and 300 in the UK every year. Male breast cancer is uncommon, yet still happens.

 

“If I do not have family history of breast cancer, I am not at risk”

Where does the myth come from?

As family health history is an important factor which affects a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, there are women who think they are not at risk, as they do not have a close relative with breast cancer. As a result, these women may neglect relevant screenings and exams.

The reality behind the myth

Most women diagnosed with breast cancer (almost 70%) do not have identifiable risk factors. It should be noted that there are indeed risks associated with family history of cancer. In particular, a woman’s risk approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (i.e. a parent, sibling, or a child) who has or had breast cancer.

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“If I wear underwire bras, I have a higher risk of developing breast cancer”

Where does the myth come from?

This myth began with the publication of a book in the mid-90s, which claimed that women who wear tight-fitting bras with underwire have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who do not. The authors based their findings on a 1991 study which indicated that women who did not wear bras had a lower risk of breast cancer than women who did. The study suggests that bras can compress the lymphatic system of the breast, “trapping” toxins in the breast tissue, and causing cancer.

The reality behind the myth

Researchers have dismissed any claims that the type or tightness of any clothing affects the risk of breast cancer, because their analysis indicates that such claims are largely unscientific.

 

“If a breast lump is found, it means I have cancer”

Where does the myth come from?

It is true that a lump may be a sign of breast cancer.

The reality behind the myth

Lumps may indeed be due to a malignant (cancerous) condition, but not necessarily. Clearly, it is important that you perform self-checks according to the recommended schedule based on your age and risk level, and report any changes you find. In that case, doctors will examine the finding and, if necessary, recommend the right way to determine whether the lump is benign or malignant. Such tests include mammograms, ultrasound, biopsy and others.

 

“I should not get breast implants because I will have a higher risk of breast cancer”

Where does the myth come from?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified a possible association between breast implants and the development of a very rare form of cancer. As a result, breast implants may be linked to a rare type of lymphoma called “anaplastic large cell lymphoma”. So far, though, there have been too few cases to help scientists determine whether the risk of this lymphoma is really higher in women who have implants.

The reality behind the myth

Researchers haven't yet determined whether the surface texture of an implant could affect the risk of this rare type of cancer, or whether the association is higher depending on the type of implant — saline or silicone. Consequently, the FDA does not recommend special care for women with breast implants (nor does it recommend removing implants). It is important to note that if you have breast implants, you should inform your doctor know before a mammogram or other routine examination, in order to ensure that the right approach and procedure is followed.

 

 

 

Other sources include Health.com & VeryWell.com

 

Source: CareAcross