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Reality Check: Common Myths Regarding Breast Cancer

- Dr. Navneet Tripathi

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide as well as in India. Various lifestyle related as well as non-modifiable risk factors are associated with increasing incidence of breast cancer. Factors like increasing age, genetics, radiation, lack of breastfeeding, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and smoking add to risk of suffering from breast cancer. Over the years, women have become more aware about their breast health, leading to detection of breast cancer in early stages and subsequent increased cure rates with proper treatment.

At the same time, there are some myths regarding risk factors and the treatment of breast cancer. This misinformation leads to delay in starting treatment and undue fear psychosis among women 

The worst part about cancer in India is that most people are unable to find a good dedicated hospital to get appropriate treatment. If you are looking to get expert and comprehensive breast cancer treatment and are unable to find one, you can prefer to consult Dr Navneet Tripathi, a breast cancer surgeon at Health City super speciality Hospital Lucknow.

Now let us know about some of the common myths regarding breast cancer

Myths Related to Causes of Breast Cancer

  1. Women will undoubtedly have breast cancer in case of family history of the same: This is not factually correct. Majority of women who have breast cancer had no family history of breast cancer. At the same time, women having a family history of breast cancer may not develop breast cancer inspite of being at higher risk.
  2. Breast cancer occurs in elderly women: According to latest statistics, more than 25% of women who have breast cancer are less than 50 years of age. Over the last decade, incidence of breast cancer in younger women has increased drastically, more so in Indian women. Breast cancer in younger women is biologically more aggressive and difficult to treat (triple negative breast cance
  3. Perfumes and deodrants are the reason behind breast cancer: There exists no such relation between perfume and breast cancer. People have claimed that chemicals released from deodrants can cause cancer, but in actuality this isn’t the case.
  4. Wearing a wired bra increases the risk of cancer: There is no such scientific evidence supporting this fact. On the contrary, not using a brassiere can aggravate symptoms like breast pain and heaviness
  5. Caffeinated products increase the risk of breast cancer: Caffeinated products like tea, coffee, dark chocolates and cola drinks do not increase the risk of breast cancer. But they indeed are associated with breast pain and fibrocystic breast changes.
  6. Higher mobile phone usage increases breast cancer risk: There is no scientific proof that claims this fact to be true.
  7. Silicone breast implants can cause breast cancer: Breast implants are not related to breast cancer. However, rarely they can lead to development of lymphoma. 
  8. Females whose breasts have undergone fibrocystic changes are more prone to breast cancer: Fibrocystic changes do not result in breast cancer, and there is no supporting evidence.

Myths related to tests for diagnosing breast cancer

  1. Getting a FNAC or biopsy can lead to development or spread of breast cancer: In a word, the answer is “NO”. Some people believe that FNAC test or core needle breast biopsy can lead to lump formation or spread of tumour in other parts of breast. But this is not the truth. The main reason behind performing a FNAC or biopsy is to know the exact nature of the breast lump. With the help of this test, diagnosis is confirmed first and then treatment plan is decided accordingly. Breast cancer treatment should not be started without confirming the disease as cancer treatment can be more radical with potential side effects. 
  2. Digital mammography can lead to breast cancer: This is not correct. Infact, digital mammography helps to pick up breast cancer in early stage, thus increasing the chances for a curative treatment

Myths regarding breast cancer treatment


  1. Mastectomy is better and safer than lumpectomy: This is not true in case of early-stage tumours that are less than 5cm in size. Patients who undergo a breast conserving surgery fare similar to patients who have undergone mastectomy (removal of whole breast) in long run. Infact breast conserving surgery is preferred over mastectomy in view of better cosmetic results and psychosocial factors.
  2. In case of a strong family history of breast cancer, lumpectomy plus radiation isn’t meant for you: Having a strong family history of cancer doesn’t indicate that you have more life-threatening cancer. The type of surgery depends on the extent of the disease only and not on family history.
  3. Immediate breast reconstruction will delay my cancer treatment and is better avoided at time of breast cancer surgery: It has been shown that immediate breast reconstructive surgery is very well tolerated and does not adversely effect other adjuvant treatments. Women can opt for immediate or delayed breast reconstruction as per personal choice.
  4. Breast cancer chemotherapy is painful and very toxic: Modern chemotherapy is given as day-care service in a very comfortable environment and is very well tolerated. It is totally painless and side effects of modern chemotherapy drugs are minimal. A device known as chemoport (BARD port or TIVAD) can be inserted in some patients for easy chemotherapy administration.

 

Dr Navneet Tripathi, is a well-known breast surgical oncologist in Lucknow. His team at Healthcity hospital, can provide the best possible breast cancer treatment in Lucknow. If you have any doubts of concerns regarding your breast health, you can prefer to consult him, for a breast health check-up. Diagnostic tests like ultrasound, mammography, FNAC and core biopsy are available. They are done as and when required on individual basis. 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. You can prevent it with the help of regular check-ups and adopting healthy lifestyle. Always consult a breast specialist in case of any breast related issue, and not blindly follow prevalent myths in society.

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