By Edward C. Geehr, MD
Breast cancer is a woman’s bogeyman. Most women know others who’ve had the disease or died from it. And most are confounded that their breasts, which nurtured their children, can also offer up illness, disfigurement and even death. Such feelings make it easy to believe incorrect information that can heighten fear. Below are common breast cancer myths and the facts that debunk them…
Myth #1: Breast self-examination is the best way to detect breast cancer.
Getting a high-quality mammogram read by an experienced radiologist is the most reliable way to detect breast cancer. For starters, a mammogram can detect breast cancer before a woman is likely to feel a lump. And because more and more women are getting mammograms – two-thirds of women over age 40 have had a mammogram in the last two years – most cases are diagnosed at early stages of the disease.
A doctor may also recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if:
Are breast exams worthless? Not in the least. Breast exams still reveal about 25% of breast cancers; mammography about 35%; and a combination of examination and mammography about 40%. So performing routine breast self-examination remains important.
Myth #2: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you will probably get the disease.
Myth #3: Birth control pills cause breast cancer.
Myth #4: High-fat foods cause breast cancer.
Myth #5: A diet full of fruits and vegetables will help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer.
Myth #6: If I didn’t inherit the breast cancer gene, I won’t get breast cancer.
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