Busting common breast cancer myths: What you need to know

What you don’t know may put your health at risk

Breast cancer is common -- and so are myths about how you can get it, how to know you have it, and how to treat it. We're debunking some common myths about breast cancer -- here's what you need to know.

Breast cancer is fairly common, but so are myths about how you can get it, how to know you have it and how to treat it.

Breast cancer impacts one in every eight women in the U.S., and some men, as well. Thought there’s a lot of awareness around breast cancer, there’s also a lot of false information floating around.

We’re debunking some common myths to help keep you well informed.

Myth: You must have a lump to have breast cancer

This is false.

The truth is, many cancers are found on mammograms that may not be felt.

Sometimes, the first sign of breast cancer is not a lump. You should also look out for these signs:

  • Swelling, thickening or dimpling of the breast;
  • Redness or irritation;
  • Nipple changes or discharge; and/ore
  • Breast or nipple pain.

Myth: You won’t get breast cancer if no one in your family has it

This is false.

Only about 5%-10% of breast cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations. Most women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

Myth: Mammograms always catch breast cancer

This is not true.

Studies show that mammograms miss about 20% of breast cancers at the time of screening. Having dense breast tissue makes breast cancer more difficult to spot with a mammogram alone.

“It just makes it more difficult for the radiologist to pick up a smaller tumor if it’s present there,” said Dr. Tricia Morino, an oncologist and hematologist.

Myth: A mastectomy is always better than a lumpectomy

This is false in many cases.

Recent studies have shown that survival after a lumpectomy combined with radiation is equivalent to that of a mastectomy for most early stage breast cancers.

Myth: Bras with underwire, nipple piercings and deodorant can cause breast cancer

There is no scientific proof that bras with underwire, nipple piercings or deodorant will increase your risk of getting breast cancer.


Related: Know the risk: Here are some surprising facts about breast cancer


About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.