Breast Cancer Awareness Month: MYTHS VS. FACTS

Jessica Pizanie
Breast cancer warriors

Every October, all month long, you’ll see pink. Pink ribbons adoring cash registers at the grocery stores. Websites with backgrounds turned a pretty shade of pink. Pink bracelets adorning the wrists of people everywhere you look. Guys sporting pink ties. Preteen girls and grandmothers alike with clipped-in pink hair extensions. Department stores shelves packed with pink gear.

It is, after all, Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month was created in 1985 to increase awareness of breast cancer and to remind women, and men, about the value of early detection. The month has, in recent years, become an international event for many breast cancer related organizations and non-profits to raise funds and promote awareness, research, and education.

Did you know?

Breast cancer is one of the two most common cancer types among American women, with skin cancer being the other type of the two. All types of cancer occur due to mutations in the genes specifically responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy. Therefore, uncontrolled growth of breast cells causes breast cancer

In 2019, approximately 271,270 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 62,930 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed according to the American Cancer Society. However, deaths caused by breast cancer have been declining since 1990 for a multitude of positive reasons including increased awareness, early detection, better screenings, and new treatment options. 

Myths vs. Facts 

It is very important to know the facts about breast cancer in hopes to stop the spread of the false information. Spreading false information, or myths, about breast cancer hurts yourself and others.

  • MYTH: I will not develop breast cancer if I do not have a family history of it.
  • FACT: Most people who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no known family history.

• Only 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary.
• 85% to 90% of breast cancer cases are caused by genetic abnormalities that come about due to the aging process.
• If you do have a strong family history of breast cancer, this is a risk factor that should be taken seriously.

  • MYTH: Wearing a bra can cause breast cancer.
  • FACT: There is no actual evidence to support that bras cause breast cancer.

• The myth goes that wearing a bra could restrict the flow of lymph fluid out of the breast causing toxic substances to build up – this is not true due to the lack of evidence to support the claim.

  • MYTH: Annual mammograms guarantee that breast cancer will be caught early.
  • FACT: While a mammogram is the best tool for early-detection, it does not always find breast cancer at the early stage.

• Having regular breast screenings done in-between annual mammograms can help catch breast cancer sooner.
• Breast self-exams are essential for early breast cancer detection, but they are not substituting for regular breast screenings with health care professionals or annual mammograms.
• Follow this link to find out how to properly self-examine your breasts for possible cancer.

  • MYTH: Breast cancer only effects women.
  • FACT: Breast cancer can form in both women AND men.

• Although breast cancer mainly occurs in women, men can get it, too.
• Men have breast tissue that can develop breast cancer.
• A man’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is 1 in 1,000. 

MemorialCare Breast Care Centers

One out of eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime, so it is important to keep up with preventative care. MemorialCare offers hospital-based breast care centers as well as ten additional satellite breast screening centers throughout the Southern California. We are scheduled to open four more ambulatory locations over the next six months: Los Alamitos next month, Rancho Mission Viejo in February, Newport Beach early in the first quarter of 2020, and Huntington Beach will open a few months later. Along with breast care centers, MemorialCare offers other resources such as breast care podcasts, events, classes, and more. 

Other Important Campaigns in October

Breast Cancer may get the bulk of our attention in October. That’s why it’s important to spread the word that there are a few other important events that happen in October:

  • National Mammography Day is the third Friday of October (October 18)
  • Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week is the third week of October (October 21-25)

How Can I Help Spread Awareness?

  • Encourage women 20 years of age and older to have a clinical breast examination every 1 to 3 years.
  • Encourage women 40 to 49 years of age to have an annual mammogram screening and women 50 to 74 years of age to have a mammogram every 2 years.
  • Use social media to talk about National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and share breast cancer facts.
  • Learn more about the disease and share the information with your community.
  • Wear the symbolic pink ribbon.
  • Participate in a local fundraiser to support breast cancer research. Some well-known non-profit organizations that put together fundraisers include American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, National Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
  • Organize your own fundraiser event.

No matter how you decide to spread awareness, you will make a difference!

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