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5 Common myths about breast cancer

Kendra Y. Mims is a freelance writer and online content editor in the Chicagoland area. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in journalism. Her passions include writing, reading, and traveling.

truth behind popular misconceptions

According to the Avon Foundation for Women, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the world, with one woman diagnosed every three minutes in the U.S.
Woman wearing pink bra

From underarm products to bra cup sizes, there is a lot of information circulating about breast cancer that can cause anxiety and make it hard to decipher fact from fiction. Dr. Marc Hurlbert, the executive director of the global breast cancer programs of the Avon Foundation for Women and the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, reveals the truth about five popular breast cancer myths below.

True or false: Breast cancer only occurs in elderly women

False: Research may show that older women are much more likely to get breast cancer, but Dr. Hurlbert points out that approximately 25 percent of new breast cancer cases each year are women under the age of 40. The National Breast Cancer Foundation encourages adult women of all ages to perform a breast self-exam to become familiar with how their breasts look and feel. Click here to learn how a breast self-exam should be performed.

True or false: No one in your family
has breast cancer so you won't ever get it

False: Dr. Hurlbert says that 85 percent to 90 percent of breast cancers arise in women with no family history, and very few (<15 percent) have breast cancer in their families.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening guidelines for most adults.

  • Yearly mammograms, starting at age 40, are recommended, and should continue for as long as a woman is in good health.
  • A clinical breast exam (CBE) should be done every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women 40 and over.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.

True or false: Finding a lump on the breast
doesn't automatically mean it is cancerous

True: The National Breast Cancer Foundation states that only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancerous. Benign (non-cancerous) breast conditions are very common. However, lumps are not to be ignored if they are new and/or accompanied with other symptoms .

"Every woman should become familiar with her breasts, how they feel, look, and what changes they notice when they go through their monthly cycle (if still menstruating). Learn what is normal. Any changes, such as new lumps, pain, drainage from the nipple, should be reported to a nurse or doctor right away," says Dr. Hurlbert.

True or false: Underarm antiperspirants
and deodorants can cause breast cancer

False: According to Dr. Hulbert studies have shown that antiperspirants or deodorants do NOT cause breast cancer. The American Cancer Society states "there are no strong epidemiologic studies in the medical literature that link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, and very little scientific evidence to support this claim."

True or false: Your cup size does not decrease
or increase your risk of breast cancer

True: Dr. Hurlbert says it is a myth that breast size plays a role in breast cancer risk. There is no link between breast size and breast cancer. Regardless of your cup size, take control of your health today by maintaining your routine checkups.

quiz

Many misconceptions and myths surround breast cancer. Don't fall victim to misinformation; get educated and informed. Let's debunk some of the common breast cancer myths. Click here to take the quiz!

More on breast cancer

Mammogram controversy
Breast cancer tips women should know
Breast cancer in men

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