A little knowledge is a dangerous thing! Here's busting breast cancer myths

  • Soumya Vajpayee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 28, 2014 14:08 IST

From family history to X-rays to the use of antiperspirants, there are a lot of myths about breast cancer. We bust the most common ones.

A lump in the breast means cancer
This is a common myth. In fact, most of the lumps, that is 8 out of 10 lumps are benign, or not cancerous. You should take immediate opinion of your doctor to relieve your anxiety.

Breast cancer is a communicable disease
Breast cancer can't be transferred by touch or proximity to patient or by living with the patient. X-ray of the breast (mammogram) can cause breast cancer to spread. Truth is that, X-ray and the compression on the breast from the x-ray machine cannot cause cancer to spread.

Surgery for breast cancer means removal of the whole breast (mastectomy)
It has been proved in several trials that breast conservation surgery is equally safe and as effective as mastectomy, and the cosmetic results are excellent.

Men do not get breast cancer
While the percentage of men who are diagnosed with breast cancer is small, men should also check their chest area regularly and should take doctor's advice in case of finding of a lump.

Taking birth control pills can cause breast cancer
This is a misconception. Currently, birth control pills have been modified to reduce estrogen content to lowest. Several studies have concluded that taking birth control pills may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer later in life. This theory is still being tested, and as of now, there is no definite answer.

Having a family history of breast cancer means you will get breast cancer
While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Genetically determined breast cancers form very small number of patients.

Using antiperspirants or wearing a bra can increase the risk of breast cancer
There is no evidence to prove that using deodorants or antiperspirants, or wearing a bra can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Pregnancy after breast cancer treatment can increase chances of recurrence
Truth is that pregnancy after early-stage breast cancer has not been shown to impact breast cancer recurrence or survival. It is often recommended that you wait for some time after completing all cancer treatments.

Compiled by Soumya Vajpayee (with inputs from Dr Abhijit Thakur, oncologist, Cumballla Hill Hospital)

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