As a rule of thumb, the sooner a woman discovers breast cancer, the more likely she is capable of winning her battle against that deadly enemy. That is why it is imperative for every woman to be proactive and follow her doctor`s recommendations for regular breast cancer screenings.
There are certain emotional pressures and worries about potentially serious results that can cause a woman to be in distress and delay going to the doctor and ignore screenings. This state of anxiety is totally understood and respected, yet unfortunately it may be flared by some widespread misunderstandings and mistaken beliefs about breast cancer symptoms and related screening efforts.
Accordingly, it’s time for the light to penetrate through the clouds, it`s time for all women to know some true facts and shake off these long-standing myths. They should take charge of their health:
Myth 1: All breast lumps are malignant!
The majority of breast lumps women feel aren’t cancer. It’s more common for them to be a benign lesion (for example, a cyst or a fibroadenoma; an abnormal growth that is not cancer). Some lumps come and go during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
If a woman feels a lump in her breast, it’s understandable to be concerned. But she should not panic or jump to conclusions. Instead, she should take a positive action. Any breast lump should be ruled out for breast cancer—for the woman`s own peace of mind, and to ensure she receives expert medical assessment and opinion. Calling her trusted doctor to find out what is this could be among the wisest decisions ever taken in life.
Myth 2: If a Lump is detected while breastfeeding, It can’t be a cancer!
Though breastfeeding is believed to reduce the risk of contracting breast cancer, it can still happen. If a woman notices a lump while she is breastfeeding, she should not ignore it. Calling her trusted doctor to find out what is this could be among the wisest decisions ever taken in life.
Myth 3: A breast lump is the only sign of breast cancer!
Breast cancer can present its ugly face with various symptoms like changes in breast shape or size; redness, irritation or thickening of skin on the breast or nipple; an orange peel-like texture on the breast; an inward-turning of the nipple; nipple discharge; pain (breast cancers aren’t always painful) and swollen lymph nodes in the armpit. All these symptoms are not conclusive of having cancer, but definitely their presence should raise suspicion. Accordingly, if a woman is in doubt about any of these symptoms, she should pay her trusted doctor a visit to find out what’s causing her symptoms.
Myth 4: Breast pain means there is a cancer!
There are several non-malignant reasons for breast pain, such as the hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, menopause, and menstrual cycle. Also inflammation (e.g. Mastitis) can induce breast pain. If a woman is suffering from a persistent breast pain, or if the breast pain is associated with other symptoms, such as nipple discharge, a recently-discovered breast lump, breast tenderness or breast skin redness, again calling her trusted doctor to find out what is this could be among the wisest decisions ever taken in life.
Myth 5: A breast lump is most likely harmless if there’s no family history of breast cancer!
Many women have the misconception that they’re not at risk for breast cancer if no one in their family has had it. Regretfully this is not true. Less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a family member who’s had the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
One sincere yet adamant advice; all discovered breast lumps should be checked by a doctor, whether or not breast cancer runs in the family.
Myth 6: Large breasts make it harder to detect cancer on a mammogram!
There is a lot of research that support the accuracy of mammography of large breasts. If a woman has large breasts, the mammogram technician may need to take more images, because the amount of tissue to be examined is more. With large breasts, it may be difficult sometimes to manually feel a lump that may turn out to be a cancer. Mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by detecting breast cancer as early as possible, when it’s most treatable. Therefore, it’s imperative to have regular mammograms whatever is the breast size.
Myth 7: Cancer surgery or a breast biopsy can cause cancer to spread in the body!
The chance that surgery will cause cancer to spread to other parts of the body is extremely low. Following standard procedures, surgeons use special methods and take many steps to prevent cancer cells from spreading during biopsies or surgery to remove tumors.
Myth 8: There`s no difference between a breast self-exam and a clinical breast exam?
A clinical breast exam is performed by a healthcare professional who is trained to recognize many different types of abnormalities and warning signs. This in-clinic exam will most likely be completed by the gynecologist during the annual health assessment recommended for all women. The breast self-exam is something every woman should do averagely once a month at home. Clinical Breast exams are an important part of early detection. Although many lumps are discovered through breast self-exams, an experienced professional may detect a suspicious area that fails to register as a threat in the woman`s mind.
Dr. Amaya Carreras
Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialist
University of Barcelona – Spain
Obstetrician In-Charge at Avivo Clinics – German Medical Center DHCC