Misconceptions about Breast Cancer
Only those with a family history of breast cancer are at risk.
Only 10–15% of breast cancer patients have a family history of the disease in a first-degree relative, whereas about 10% of patients carry cancer genes such as BRCA 1 and 2. 75% of breast cancer cases occur due to other factors. Being a woman and advanced age are the main risk factors for breast cancer.
If you have a lump in your breast, you have cancer.
The most common cause of a breast lump is fibrocystic or normal tissue, and fibroadenomas, which are benign. Fibroadenomas and fibrocysts pose no risk of developing into cancer. However, they can cause pain in the breast or enlargement and tightness.
A cancerous mass in the breast causes no pain.
Most cancerous masses are painless, but pain should not cancel out the possibility of cancer. A doctor’s opinion must be sought in all cases.
A double mastectomy is the only option.
A double mastectomy is only recommended for high-risk patients. Having cancer in one breast does not necessarily mean you are in the high-risk group. There is no difference between breast-conserving surgery, followed by radiotherapy in these patients, and mastectomy, in terms of the risk of recurrence of the disease and survival. However, a patient’s feelings are more important than anything. If it is going to make the patient feel more comfortable and secure, the removal of both breasts may be considered or it may not be considered at all, even if it is necessary, if the patient so wishes.
Breast cancer is a disease that women get.
Though a small amount, men also have breast tissue, and in rare cases men may get breast cancer too. The most common symptom is a lump in the breast, accompanied by other symptoms which are also seen in female patients, such as discharge from the nipple, bleeding, shrinking, deformities, and swelling under the armpit.
Pregnancy increases the risk of breast cancer.
Pregnancy does not increase the risk of breast cancer, it lowers it. However, diagnosing cancer can be difficult due to the physiological changes in the breast during pregnancy.
Aesthetic surgeries increase the risk of breast cancer.
In recent years, silicone implants used in breast augmentation surgeries have been thought to cause cancer. However, there is no data available showing that silicone implants cause cancer.
Mammographies causes cancer.
There is also a belief that mammographies themselves cause cancer because of the radiation they emit. In fact, the radiation emitted by mammography was much higher in the past when we had older technology. Studies were published reporting that mammography causes cancer, but thanks to modern technology, the radiation from mammography is no more than the radiation you get exposed to from natural sources within the timeframe of a few weeks. Given the benefits it offers in the early detection of cancer, we really shouldn’t refuse a mammography when it’s required.