Myths & Facts

Myths and Facts About Breast Cancer

Famous oncologist in Hyderabad, Dr Geetha busts common myths about breast cancer.

Myth: Breast cancer occurs only in older women.

Fact: Famous oncologist in Hyderabad says advancing age is a risk factor for breast cancer, but it doesn’t mean that younger women are not susceptible to breast cancer risk. The most worrisome trend – as far as breast cancer is concerned – is the age shift; now, an increasing number of breast cancer cases are being detected in women as young as 25 years age. Therefore, breast cancer can be detected at any age, but the risk increases between 45 to 65 years age.

Myth: Breast cancer risk increases after cosmetic breast surgery.

Fact: This is not true because there is no link between cosmetic surgery and breast cancer risk. There are no studies or conclusive evidence to show that women who underwent breast surgery for cosmetic reasons have had developed breast cancer.

Myth: Breast cancer risk increases after abortion and miscarriage.

Fact: At present no research studies indicate that early termination of pregnancy due to abortion or miscarriage can increase breast cancer risk in women.

Myth: Mammogram and ultrasound increase breast cancer risk.

Fact: The best screening modalities for detecting and diagnosing breast cancer are mammogram and ultrasound. Breast cancer risk doesn’t increase with a mammogram as the radiation dose is less than a standard X-ray.

Myth: Antiperspirants can cause breast cancer

Fact: There is no substantial or conclusive evidence to support this claim.

Myth: All breast lumps are cancerous.

Fact: The truth is contrary to this as most of the breast lumps are not cancerous.

Myth: Age is the major risk factor for breast cancer and the next is hormone therapy.

Fact: Age is not a major risk factor rather “being a woman” is the major one and the next is age.

Myth: The best way to detect breast cancer early is breast self-examination.

Fact: Though breast self-examination gives clues about the possibility of breast cancer, but the best way to detect is a mammogram. With a mammogram, it is possible to detect breast cancer even before a woman feels it or develops symptoms.

Fact: The truth is on the contrary as there is no substantial evidence in the form of conclusive research studies or case studies that indicate the link of antiperspirant usage and breast cancer.

Myth: Biopsy can lead to the spread of cancer to surrounding cells and tissues – in other words, the risk of cancer becoming metastatic increases by biopsy.

Fact: A pathologist takes only a very small sample to look for abnormal cells, and then to analyse and evaluate cancer cells. Therefore, there is no risk whatsoever of cancer spreading to other tissues and cells due to biopsy.

Myth: It is not possible to prevent cancer

Fact: Prevention is always better than cure – and, as far as cancer is concerned it is very much possible to prevent it in its track as one in five cancers are related to the lifestyle of a person. Therefore, by making slight changes in the lifestyle such as walking, exercising, doing physical activities, quitting usage of tobacco – all forms including smokeless tobacco and smoking as well; maintaining ideal body weight; adequate vitamins and minerals and also vitamin D levels and reducing alcohol intake one can reduce the risk of all types of cancer. According to a famous oncologist in Hyderabad, all these factors are preventable.

Excessive usage of red meat and meat cooked at high temperatures can increase the risk of gastrointestinal cancers; therefore, avoiding cooking meat at very high temperatures – grilling, broiling, deep frying can help reduce the risk of cancer. Similarly, by reducing intake of processed meats such as lunch meat, hot dogs – one can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Leading a healthy life by making changes in lifestyle can help reduce the risk of cancer manifolds. Furthermore, being diabetic and obese increase the risk of colon cancer.

Myth: If any family member has cancer, then other members are more likely to get that cancer.

Fact: Several types of cancers run in families – and thus show a strong family history as certain genes are often linked to such cancers. It is a fact; however, majority of cancers in both men and women have no predisposition to genes are family history as they tend to occur at some point in the lives of both men and women irrespective of genetic predisposition, a family history or any sort of close family relation. Therefore, it is not always true that if your family member has that cancer you will get it too.

Myth: Artificial Sweeteners can cause cancer

Fact: Currently there is no research-based strong evidence to substantiate this myth as several studies that have been performed have not shown any link between the usage of artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame, sucralose and cancer of any type.

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Dr Geetha Nagasree