Ten Breast Cancer Myths Debunked

Sara Suchy | June 10, 2013

1 of 11
1 of 11
Credit: iStock

Studies show that breast cancer is one of the most prominent fears of women at large. Check out these breast cancer myths to set your mind at ease.

2 of 11

Breast Cancer is a death sentence

Credit: iStock

A breast cancer diagnosis, indeed, any cancer diagnosis, is not an automatic death sentence.  The vast majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer display no signs of the cancer spreading beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes.  Furthermore, 80 percent of women diagnosed live at least five years and most live longer.

3 of 11

You don't need a mammogram until age 50

Credit: iStock

Despite recent studies, most medical professionals highly recommend that women have annual mammograms screenings starting at age 40, or earlier if the woman is at a heightened risk of breast cancer.  Despite some controversies around mammograms, they are the single best screening tool available for early detection of breast cancer.

4 of 11

Only people with a family history are diagnosed

Credit: iStock

Every woman has some risk of developing breast cancer.  About 80 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

5 of 11

It's your fault you have cancer

Credit: iStock

Some people believe that you develop breast cancer from eating too much fat and not exercising enough.  While lifestyle factors might play a role in risk, no one knows exactly what causes breast cancer.  Both perfectly healthy people and people with high-fat, sedentary lifestyles are diagnosed every day.

6 of 11

All treatments are the same

Credit: iStock

Treatment plans vary widely from patient to patient depending on the type of cancer they have, the size of the tumor, age of the patient and their stage in the disease.  Some women need surgery, radiation and months of chemotherapy, while others will only require surgery or a chemo regimen.

7 of 11

Breast cancer is one disease

Credit: iStock

Breast cancer is a name given to at least a half-dozen diseases, defined by more than just their location in the body. For example, hormonal activity, genetics and basal-type cancer are all forms of breast cancer.

8 of 11

Mastectomy is more effective than lumpectomy

Credit: iStock

For women with breast cancer at one site, with a tumor smaller than 4 centimeters, and with clean margins achieved during surgery, lumpectomy with radiation has been proven to be as effective as mastectomy.

9 of 11

Removing lymph nodes makes the arm swell

Credit: iStock

Lymph node surgery can lead to discomfort, numbness and swelling, which is called lymphedema.  However, proper care of the arm and physical therapy usually alleviates these symptoms or completely avoids them.

10 of 11

Using deodorant causes breast cancer

Credit: iStock

There is no conclusive evidence that antiperspirants influence your risk of developing breast cancer.

11 of 11

Surgery can cause cancer to spread

Credit: iStock

Cancer that has spread to other parts of the body can be silent for some time before it is discovered.  No evidence supports surgery causing cancer to spread.