Breast Cancer: Oncologist Sheds Light On Common Myths That You Must Stop Believing
Breast cancer: It is a myth that breast cancer only affects middle-aged and older women. Find the truth here!
Family history of breast cancer can increase your risk of developing the condition as well
- Breast cancer may show no symptoms at early stage
- A lump in your breast may not always be cancerous
- Breast cancer can occur because of reasons beyond lifestyle
According to the National Health Portal [NHP] of India, breast cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer, accounting for 14% of all cancers in Indian women. It can affect women at any age but the prevalence rates in India has begun to rise among women in their early thirties.
Breast cancer is developed when breast cells mutate and cells divide and multiply in an uncontrolled way. Predominantly, the cancerous cells form in either the breast lobules or the ducts. Lobules are the glands that are responsible for producing milk, and ducts are the path that milk flows from the glands to the nipple. Cancer can also be found in the fatty tissue or the fibrous connective tissue inside the breast.
The uncontrolled multiplication of cancerous cells often attacks the other healthy breast tissue. These cells use lymph nodes under the arms as a primary pathway to spread across other parts of the body.
Early symptoms of breast cancer
In early stages of breast cancer, there might be no evident symptoms but if there are any signs of breast pain, slight redness around the breast region and unexplained change of size or shape of the breast are all cause for alarm. In a few cases, a tumor may be too small to be caught during physical diagnosis, but an abnormality can be diagnosed through a mammogram.
There are various forms of the cancer and produce specific symptoms. But some of the most common symptoms related to all kinds of breast cancer are discharge of blood from the nipples, flaking and peeling of the skin around the breast, inverted nipple and a presence of lump or swelling under the arm.
Breast cancer if caught in early stages is a very treatable form of cancer. The only way to bring down the mortality rate with respect to breast cancer is to create enough awareness of breast cancer among women and reduce the stigma attached by consistently addressing the myths about the disease.
Common myths associated with breast cancer
- A lump in your breast is always cancerous: Not all lumps are cancerous, some of them are benign and harmless. At the same time it's important to be aware of the changes your body goes through and seek medical attention to dismiss any potential complications
- Breast cancer can be contagious: Breast cancer is a non-communicable disease which is a result of mutation of uncontrolled cells in the breast tissue. It can be neither caught from someone nor can be transferred to another person through any form.
- A mammogram can spread breast cancer: A mammogram or X-ray of breast is used for early diagnosis of breast cancer. As for mammography, a very small dose of radiation is used and the exposure time is also very limited. Hence, the risk of breast cancer caused by the radiation is extremely minimal.
- Breast cancer only affects middle-aged and older women: Although age plays a vital role in the progress of this disease there are no studies that confirm that women in their 20s are immune to breast cancer. Having a history of the medical condition in the family can make women at an early age a high-risk candidate for breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is solely a lifestyle disease: Having a decent lifestyle with maintaining healthy weight, eating right and controlling alcohol intake can lower your risk of breast cancer but it cannot prevent it. While a number of lifestyle habits can make you more prone to the disease, they cannot be the sole factor responsible for development of cancerous cells in your body
Hence, it is always advisable to consult a doctor when some early signs are noticed and get a diagnosis to determine the cause and decide on a right treatment plan to treat it.
(Dr Nanda Rajaneesh, Surgical Oncologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospitals, Koramangala, Bangalore)
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