Community Magazine

Breast Cancer Myths and Facts

By Jean Campbell

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I want to take this opportunity to share what I know about breast cancer.

breast cancerMy knowledge is both personal and professional. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor who owes being here today to annual mammograms that found my cancers when they were still small and easy to treat.

During my years as the director of the American Cancer Society’s NYC Patient Navigator Program, I  met with thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer. Many believed the myths I share below.

In 2010 I began publishing a breast cancer blog This experience continues to bring me in contact with women and men newly diagnosed with breast cancer, many of whom also believed they were safe from best cancer for one or more of the myths listed below.

Sometimes we embrace myths about breast cancer rather than deal with the realities of the disease. Unfortunately myths can paralyze us and put us in danger.

1. Breast Cancer Doesn’t Run in My Family, I’m Safe – Eighty to eighty-five percent of women who get breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

2. I’m Too Young for Breast Cancer – Breast cancer can affect women of any age. While the disease is more common in post-menopausal women, 5% of women diagnosed are between the ages of 20 and 39 years.

3. Breast Cancer Is a Death Sentence – When caught early, up to 98 percent of women survive at least five years.

4. All Breast Lumps Are Cancerous – Most breast lumps are not cancer , but all lumps should be checked thoroughly by a doctor.

5. Herbal Remedies and Dietary Supplements Can Help Treat Breast Cancer – No herbal remedy, dietary supplement or alternative therapy has been scientifically proven to treat breast cancer.

6. My Breast Lump is Painful, So it Must not be Cancer – Not true; there’s no correlation between whether the lump is painful and whether it’s cancerous. Any lump needs to be checked by a doctor.

7. Breast Cancer is a Punishment from God- no, it is a disease

8. Stress Causes Breast Cancer – it doesn’t

9. Breast Cancer Jumps from one Breast to the Other – it doesn’t

10.Touching yourself in performing a breast exam is wrong- no, it can save your life

11. Men don’t get breast cancer- yes, they do

12. Mammograms hurt-not as much as childbirth

The American Cancer Society’s statistics for breast cancer in the United States for 2012:

  • About 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women (spread beyond the lobules or ducts)
  • About 63,300 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 39,510 deaths from breast cancer (women)
  • Less than 2,000 new cases in men
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer
  • One in eight women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36. Breast cancer death rates have been going down.
  • Today there are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

Until we can prevent breast cancer, early detection is critical to surviving this cancer!

  • If you are under 40, with no known risk factors, get a comprehensive breast exam when you get your annual pap test. If you are over 40, get an annual mammogram. Make it digital!
  • Don’t let being uninsured keep you from getting a mammogram or a pap smear. Call your local Dept. of Health and ask them to guide you in accessing services from the Federal Center for Disease Control’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP),

Please share these myths and facts about breast cancer with the women in your life.

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