We observe October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The month also marks a popular western holiday called Halloween. And certainly, everyone would agree that when it comes to diseases, nothing is scarier than cancer. The awareness about breast cancer’s details is important, but it does not finish the conversation.
It is, surely, a fortunate thing that discussion on breast cancer is pursued among both citizens and netizens. But communities tend to generate and pass on misbeliefs too. There are scores of misconceptions about breast cancer. These myths become an obstacle towards the correct understanding of a concept.
We spoke to Dr Anusheel Munshi, Head of the Department of Radiation, Oncology Sciences at Manipal Hospitals Dwarka. In our interaction, we asked Dr Munshi to shatter some common myths about breast cancer. Read on to explore.
Common Misconceptions About Breast Cancer
Myth 1: A lump in the breast is surely a sign of cancer.
Fact: This statement couldn’t be any further from the truth. If you see the statistics, almost eight out of ten lumps in breasts are not cancer. So if you feel a lump, please don’t get scared or frightened. Most of the times, the lump is not cancerous.
Nevertheless, whenever you find a new lump, it is always advisable to consult a specialist. Seeing a specialist reassures, that everything is fine. In case the specialist finds something suspicious concerning the lump, he will order the relevant tests.
But every lump, I repeat, does not mean breast cancer.
Myth 2: Mammograms help in spreading of cancer.
Fact: Several misconceptions are floating around. For instance, mammograms or surgery itself spreads breast cancer. These myths have no substantial basis. Perhaps it stems from the fact that in a mammogram, you have to apply a bit of compression onto the breast. That is why people may think that if we press the breast, the cells may dissimilate.
But there is not an iota of truth in this statement. There is no evidence. N number of studies have been done with mammograms. So, this is a big misbelief and it needs to be dismantled.
Myth 3: Deodorants cause breast cancer.
Fact: Again, another big myth that needs to be knocked off right away. There is no evidence to support the statement that the use of deodorants, perfumes, sprays or cosmetics can lead to cancer. So please feel free to use deodorants, there are no restrictions from our (doctor’s) side on using deodorants.
Myth 4: Wearing a bra at night increases the chances of this disease.
Fact: There are several misconceptions in peoples’ minds relating to bras. Some people believe that wearing black bra causes breast cancer. Some others believe that wearing a bra at night causes breast cancer. Again, let me be very explicit and clear that wearing a bra or not wearing a bra has no relation, whatsoever, with breast cancer.
Myth 5: Pregnant women are at zero risks of developing this cancer.
Fact: If you have undergone pregnancy once or twice or thrice, it can be a factor in reducing your breast cancer risk. So if you have been pregnant in the past, especially below the age of thirty years, it can be a factor in reducing your risk of breast cancer. However, it does not mean that you can never have breast cancer. Only the risk of it is reduced.
All these things need to be seen in a proper context. All of us need to realise that risk factors exist for several diseases like breast cancer, cardiac problems or neurological problems. Each of these has a finite risk.
As an intelligent society and individuals, our job should be to minimise these risks. And tips such as dietary regulations or lifestyle modifications like not smoking, not drinking, should be practised. These are some steps to reduce the risk of breast cancer. We should definitely strive and aim to reduce the chances of this cancer to lead a healthy, happy productive life.
Breast cancer impacts the lives of about one in every twenty-eights women in India. It is a widely progressing cancer and the awareness on this subject is of prime importance.
Misleading facts on this disease can cost you a lot. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, encourage discussions and raise questions.
Check out all the article in #CrediTalk series here.
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This write-up was contributed to Credihealth by Dr. Anusheel Munshi.
About The Doctor
Dr. Anusheel Munshi is a Head of the department of Radiation Oncologists at Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi. He has an experience of over 15 years in his field.