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Ten Cancer Myths

1. Breast cancer is preventable.
There is no known prevention for breast cancer. Early detection, followed by prompt treatment, offers the best chance against the disease. However, certain lifestyle changes may help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.

2. If there is no breast cancer in your family, you’re not at risk for the disease.
All women, and some men, are at risk for breast cancer. About 85 percent of women who develop breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease.

3. Wearing a bra increases your risk of breast cancer.
It’s not true that wearing a bra, especially an underwire bra, traps toxins by limiting lymph and blood flow in your breasts. The wrong bra size may be uncomfortable, but it won’t lead to breast cancer.

4. The pill increases your chance of getting breast cancer.
Studies show that the use of birth control pills has no effect on lifetime breast cancer risk. A 2002 study showed that neither the length of time women had been on the pill nor the dose of estrogen in their contraceptive of choice could predict the disease. Birth control pills have many potential health benefits, including protection from ovarian cancer.

5. Mammograms expose you to dangerous radiation.
Early detection is the most important way to treat breast cancer. Getting an annual mammogram allows your doctor to find a lump when it’s smaller and better treatment options exist. Modern mammogram equipment uses very low levels of radiation, and does not significantly increase the risk of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The risk is offset by the fact that a mammogram can detect a tumor as tiny as a pinhead—which is up to two years before you and your physician can feel it.

6. A lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.
Most women have lumps in their breasts and most lumps are not cancerous. Having lumpy or fibrocystic breasts does not increase your chances of developing breast cancer. A monthly breast self-exam, done at the same time each month, can help you become familiar with your own breasts and how they feel. A lump that is soft and moveable is more likely benign. A hard and immobile lump may be cancerous. Your physician should examine your breasts during a clinical breast examination and all new and unusual lumps should be evaluated as soon as possible.

7. An injury to your breast can cause breast cancer.
While trauma to the breast may result in the detection of breast cancer, it is not due to the injury. Discovering breast cancer following an injury is just the result of the breast being examined more closely than usual.

8. You don’t have to worry about breast cancer until you’re through menopause.
While the odds of getting breast cancer do increase as you age, breast cancer can develop at any age. All women should be vigilant in performing self-exams and begin yearly mammograms at age 40.

9. Stress can trigger breast cancer.
Studies show there is no link between stress and cancer. Nor is there a link between the classic type-A personality traits, such as ambition, competitiveness and aggressiveness, to cancer risk.

10. If you get breast cancer, you are going to die.
Most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not die from the disease. Breast cancer is highly curable for women—and men—who are diagnosed early.

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