Every year this month, a lot of campaigns take place to raise awareness about breast cancer, its symptoms, early diagnosis, and treatment options. Much progress has been made to manage breast cancer, assess its risks, prevent it, and treat it by a combination of surgery, radiation, and other treatment. The past decades witnessed heightened awareness, and no doubt, breast cancer, at the moment, makes its way in discussions openly. A lot is available on the Internet and books to help people living with it to gain proper knowledge about cancer and cope with cancer. However, while some try to pass credible pieces of information, there are a few who become a source of false information dissemination. Several myths and false notions are prevalent in the air that misguides people, leaving them vulnerable and mislead.
Here are some of the myths and misconceptions revolving around breast cancer.
Breast cancer always forms a lump.
For a woman to get diagnosed with Breast cancer, there should be lumps in the breasts is the biggest myth. A lump or mass in the breasts is just one of the signs that depict the chances of breast cancer. Besides lumps or accumulation of mass in the breasts, there are other symptoms that indicate the probability of breast cancer, such as bloody nipple discharge, skin discoloration, scaly skin around nipples, nipple retraction, dimpling, swelling, changes in skin textures, and others. However, a proper confirmed diagnosis is only made after proper diagnostics tests.
Men don’t get breast cancer.
Every human being is born with some breast cells and ducts beneath the surface of nipples. Upon puberty, in women, female hormones facilitate the development of breasts. In males, the development of breasts does not occur due to the absence of the hormones responsible for it. Even then, males can develop breast cancer. Although it is a rare phenomenon, around 1% of all breast cancer in the US develops in men.
Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer.
Antiperspirants and deodorants have aluminum-based ingredients in their composition, and they are usually sprayed under the armpits or areas that are relatively close to the breasts. The chances of getting diagnosed with breast cancer increase with the use of antiperspirants and deodorants; however, is a misconception. Epidemiological studies have shown that there exists significant evidence that can establish any form of link between the use of deodorant and antiperspirant and breast cancer.
Injury or trauma to the breast can cause breast cancer.
Injuries due to accidents, physical force, or restraints can cause trauma to the breasts and can result in severe side effects such as tearing, scarring, and straining of mammary ducts; however, the injury can lead to breast cancer is one of the biggest myths. There is no available evidence or link that states the relationship between injury and breast cancer. A lump after a physical injury can mean fat necrosis or hematoma.
If a lump is cancerous, mastectomy is the only option.
Research has advanced to magnanimous levels and has opened doors to several treatment options to treat breast cancer. So, mastectomies are not the only option for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Women generally opt for mastectomy in hopes of getting rid of cancer with its chances of relapsing 0%. However, it is crucial to calculate all the available options such as chemotherapies, radiation therapies, and other forms of surgeries (breast-conserving surgeries or lumpectomy) available that help in clearing out cancer. Chemotherapies are a broad approach; radiation therapy is
Having silicone breast implants increases the chance of breast cancer.
Breast implants, neither saline nor silicone-based, cause breast cancer. No evidence proves that breast implants raise the risks of getting breast cancer in women. However, according to research by Hoshaw SJ, and colleagues published a meta-analysis of several studies and found the lack of carcinogenic activity attributable to breast implants. However, there is evidence stating the risk of getting diagnosed with Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare tumor of the immune system, due to breast implants known as breast implant-associated ALCL (BIA-ALCL). The USFDA has identified possible risks and estimates demonstrated BIA-ALCL inflicting 1 in 3,817 to 1 in 30,000 women with breast implants.
Stress can cause cancer.
It is a popular myth among women that stress and anxiety cause breast cancer. However, there is no scientific rationale that proves a link between psychological stress and breast cancer. The same was demonstrated by a study that investigated the role of psychological stress in causing breast cancer in a cohort of 106,000 women in the United Kingdom by Minouk J. Schoemaker et al. The study revealed no consistent evidence for an association of breast cancer risk due to perceived stress levels or adverse life events.
Staying informed is necessary. Having access to credible information regarding everything that goes around the world is vital. It is equally important to distinguish between information and misinformation. In the age of the Internet, it is relatively easy to know about recent happenings; however, it is also common to get mislead and misinformed. Sometimes some websites and social media platforms become a source of false information and myths that spreads ablaze. And in the age where everyone has access to global platforms at their fingertips, it is not easy to put out the blaze of rumors and gossips. Now to why does it happen is something that varies widely. People tend to improvise and manipulate information based on their needs and gains, such as political agendas, communal hatred, and gossip-mongering. The recent instance of rumors that did rounds was associated with the coronavirus pandemic. So, it becomes necessary to bash such rumors and always make wise, informed decisions after consultation with experts and credible sources.