Breast cancer: Myths vs reality
New research into DNA analysis has allowed scientists to test how likely women are to develop breast cancer and give them a rate of prognosis, while a recent report from the US has found that over $4 billion is spent in America every year due to incorrect mammography results and subsequent breast cancer over diagnosis.
Both reports have put breast cancer back into the spotlight, and as the most common cause of cancer in women in the UK, it’s important to understand the disease and separate facts from fiction.
The recent US report illustrates that women must come to terms with the fact that mammograms do not definitively discover the disease and it is not a prevention method. It is important rather to become familiar with the breasts as opposed to relying on this annual check-up.
In medical testing, false positives also raise chances of false negatives, which will not find cancerous tumours. There are also no long term studies of the effects of exposure to mammography, but consequently there is little else as effective for early diagnosis of breast cancer.
Without a definitive success rate it is important for women to consider the shortcomings of mammograms and to consult their doctor more frequently for clinical breast examinations. Knowing what is normal for your breast is also crucial in the screening process.
A common myth with breast cancer is that it comes in the form of a lump. However, a lump may never appear in a breast cancer patient. Women should be on the alert for any change in their breast such as swelling, skin irritation, pain, nipple retraction, redness, or discharge.
A relatively unknown fact is that no two breast cancers are the same. There are many sub-types and they respond to different types of treatment. Learning about these differences will allow women to make informed decisions about treatment for their sub-type. If a particularly small lump forms it should not be unconsidered due to size, as some forms of breast cancer are so aggressive they cannot be effectively treated with the remedies currently available.
A popular consensus is that most women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease. While family history allows for an increased risk of the disease, large number of women who develop breast cancer do not have an affected close relative.
Underwire bras have been blamed for stimulating cancer-causing toxins in women but scientists disapprove of this theory. The type of underwear, or tightness of an undergarment, is believed to have no connection to breast cancer risks.
Breast injury has been linked with breast cancer, although there is no evidence to support this. Experts deem injuries lead women to focus on their breasts and ultimately discover a tumour that had already been there.
Breast cancer not only affects women but also rare men. In the UK 73 men died from breast cancer in 2012. Lack of awareness is believed to cause men to ignore breast lumps until the cancer has spread too far to be cured.