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Debunking Breast Cancer Myths – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Even with all of the information available regarding breast cancer, there are still misconceptions and fears among women.

Breast Cancer Myths (Flickr: Dixie Bell Cupcake Cafe)Here are some of the most common myths about breast cancer:

MYTH: A lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.

TRUTH: Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. However, it is important not to ignore any persistent lumps or changes in breast tissue. Women should perform routine breast self-exams in addition to getting annual clinical breast exams.

MYTH: Lumps are the only sign of breast cancer.

TRUTH: There are various other signs of breast cancer such as skin irritation or dimpling, pain or redness of the nipple, or nipple retraction, according to the American Cancer Society. It is important not to ignore any of these changes. Be sure to get them checked by a doctor.

MYTH: Only women can get breast cancer.

TRUTH: Because men also have breast tissue, they are at risk for developing breast cancer. While breast cancer is rare in men, it does happen. See Men at Risk for Breast Cancer As Well for more information.

MYTH: Family history of breast cancer means you will develop breast cancer too.

TRUTH: According to the University of Michigan’s Cancer Center, 80 to 85 percent of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. That being said, it is important to get a yearly mammogram, regardless of family history.

MYTH: There is nothing you can do to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.

TRUTH: All women can take steps to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer, including regular screenings and a healthy diet. See Breast Cancer Prevention for more information.

MYTH: If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, you’re going to die.

TRUTH: When caught early, up to 98 percent of women survive at least five years, according to the University of Michigan Cancer Center. Advancements in treatments have increased the survival rate to 10 years for 85 to 90 percent of women.

MYTH: Mammography is perfect.

TRUTH: Mammography will detect, on average, about 80 to 90 percent of breast cancers in women without symptoms, according to the American Cancer Society. Most experts agree that mammography saves lives and recommend annual mammography starting at age 40.

MYTH: Breast cancer only occurs in older women.

TRUTH: Breast cancer does not discriminate based on age. While the disease is more common in post-menopausal women, 25 percent of women with breast cancer are younger than 50, according to University of Michigan Cancer Center.

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