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Breast Cancer: Separating Fact from Myth
There are many myths surrounding breast cancer that could mean the difference between life and death when it comes to the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.
“One myth surrounding breast cancer is that it is a woman-only disease,” says Deepali Patni, MD, FACOG, a board-certified OB/GYN at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “Men can and do get breast cancer. In fact, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, each year it’s estimated that approximately 1,700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 450 will die – so it’s important for men and women to be vigilant.”
Dr. Patni also helps dispel other common myths surrounding breast cancer.
Myth: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.
Fact: "This is not true," says Dr. Patni, adding that a mammogram is one of the best tools available for the early detection of breast cancer. She says that having a mammogram cannot cause cancer to spread, nor can the pressure put on the breast from the mammogram.
Myth: No one in the family has breast cancer, so there’s no reason for concern.
Fact: Most women who have breast cancer have no family history.
Myth: Having a family history of breast cancer means you’ll get it, too.
Fact: While women and men who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, it doesn’t guarantee they’ll get it. “Certainly, if you have a mother, daughter, sister, or grandmother who had breast cancer, you should have a mammogram five years before the age of their diagnosis, or starting at age 35,” Dr. Patni urges.
Myth: Only older people get breast cancer.
Fact: This is a potentially dangerous myth because breast cancer can affect women of any age, and 25% of women with breast cancer are younger than 50. “If you feel a lump – at any age – have it checked out,” says Dr. Patni.
Myth: Having a mastectomy is the best way to cure breast cancer and prevent it from recurring.
Fact: “Few women diagnosed with breast cancer actually need a mastectomy,” says Dr. Patni. “Breast cancer can often be treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and lumpectomy (tumor removal).”
By having regular screenings, including mammograms, you can help improve your chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier stage.
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