In the time of information overload, it is very easy for people to look up their symptoms about any health issue on the internet and self diagnose them. But the problem starts when they fall prey to misinformation and rumors.
October is a breast cancer awareness month. Breast cancer is one of the better-known cancers that have been subject to various awareness campaigns. But still there are many myths and misconceptions about breast cancer which need to be addressed.
According to Dr. Usha Raina, Gynaecologist at Gurgaon, “Most of the time, women get scared when they feel any kind of lump or malignant in their breasts, and come to a conclusion that it can be cancerous. Through, self-examination is very essential, but you should go for an ultrasound if you feel anything uncommon. In such cases, it’s good to have a slight suspicion.”
“I have seen my patients getting sacred after seeing any kind of discharge, especially after delivery, which is common but still one has to be very careful about it. Only those who have experienced breast cancer closely can understand the problem”, she said.
Many tend to fall into the trap of myths and rumors, and might not truly realize the underlying reasons and risks of the disease.
Here are some common myths about breast cancer:
Myth: Keeping a Cellphone in the bra can cause breast cancer
Fact: Dr. Raina said, “Many studies are going on, however, so far, there is no evidence or proof found in any connection between carrying a cell phone in bras with breast cancer. Though people worry that radiant from cell phones can cause cancer but there has been no such record that supports this claim.”
“Although there is no evidence regarding this but I always suggest my patients to not keep mobile phones in their bra as it is not a place to keep mobile phones, for safety reasons,” she further said.
Myth: Men can’t get breast cancer
Fact: Though rare, but even men can develop breast cancer underneath the nipple and areola.
This is considered to be a myth around male breast cancer as this arises from an improper understanding of human biology. We all have breast cells and tissues. Even if they do not develop milk-producing parts, breast cells and tissues can develop cancer.
According to reports, one in 1000 men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer, and it is usually detected as a lump underneath the nipple and areola.
Myth: Wearing a bra can cause breast cancer
Fact: Dr. Usha said, there is no evidence that bras cause breast cancer but yes tight bras can indeed be a cause. We should avoid wearing very tight or unfitting bra, especially after delivery. Bras are only to give support to the breasts and should not be too much tight and uncomfortable.”
There are rumors and misinformation on the internet about a particular variety of bra. These rumors suggest that underwire bras can cause breast cancer. However, there is no scientific proof to support this claim.
In a study of 2014, conducted on the 1,500 women, no link was found between bra-wearing and breast cancer.
Myth: Only older women get breast cancer.
Fact: Dr. Raina said, “This is a myth that only older women can develop breast cancer. Younger women can also develop breast cancer. It is true that breast cancer is rare in ages below 40, and only makes up a small portion of the total number of cases, but at the same time, it is also the most common cancer for women between the age group of 20-40.”
Even though in rare cases, breast cancer in younger women is as cataclysmic as for women under 40, and it is often diagnosed in its later stages when it tends to be more aggressive. Due to this, the survival rate for the age group is low.
Myth: Family history of breast cancer can cause breast cancer
Fact: “There is one type of breast cancer that happens to be in the genes, and if you have a family history of that type of breast cancer then you need to get tested,” said Dr. Raina.
But even a family history of some types of cancers does not mean that you are going to get cancer.
If your family has a history of breast cancer, it doesn’t mean that you will get it too. However, it is important to be aware of the causes and risks, and therefore, you should undergo tests regularly.
Also, reports show, most women with breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease. Only about 13% of women with breast cancer have a close relative with breast cancer.