You may think you know the basics about breast cancer -- but you're most likely completely wrong.
It’s breast cancer awareness month, and despite all the efforts to publicize it, some big myths keep getting passed around.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation has put up a list of some persistent myths, which for most people may be quite educating.
Myth #1: All lumps in the breast end up being cancer.
Did you know it’s possible that the lump in your breast is actually nothing to worry about? It’s true. Many people freak out for no reason after finding something in their breast and thinking immediately that they have breast cancer. The reality is that no one can tell you but a doctor, so get yourself checked out right away — you’ll sleep easier than if you constantly worry about it, and it’s always good to ask a doctor on the off chance that it is breast cancer.
Myth #2: Breast cancer is only a problem for women.
Sorry guys, you’re not as likely to get breast cancer as a woman, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune.
About 2,200 men each year will get breast cancer, and 410 will die from the disease. That’s nowhere near the numbers for women, but it shows that there are certainly plenty of men in the United States who are affected by the disease, so it’s best to periodically do a breast self-exam even if you’re male. If you notice a hard lump beneath the nipple and areola, see a doctor as soon as you can. Also: men tend to have a higher mortality rate than women, so when they get it it’s more concerning, probably because they’re less likely to spot it early since they’re not expecting it.
Myth #3: Mammograms will hasten the spread of cancer.
Believe it or not, some people think mammograms are actually harmful. Despite the fact that mammograms use x-rays, and x-rays are a form of radiation that can cause cancer in large doses, mammograms have been designed in such a fashion that there is no danger to people. Furthermore, mammograms can spot breast cancer early, making them a critical life-saving tool — certainly worth even a small chance of cancer, if it even exists.
Myth #4: A family history of breast cancer makes you very likely to have breast cancer.
Surprisingly, genes aren’t a big factor in breast cancer. While those with a family history do get placed in a higher risk group, the majority of women who get breast cancer had no family history. In fact, only about 10 percent of those who get breast cancer had a family history of it. So rest easy if your mom had to go through this fight — that doesn’t mean you’ll get it.