Myths and Facts About Breast Cancer

facts and Myths about breast cancerDuring my years as a patient navigator, I met and spoke with several hundred women and a few men with breast cancer. Sometimes we met immediately after the doctor had shared a breast cancer diagnosis. Others I met privately with  in  the chemo or radiation waiting areas. Being a survivor gave me instant credibility. Even the most resistive to talking would eventually open up because they wanted reassurance from someone who had “been there.”

Time and again patients would share what they believed about breast cancer. Some of these myths kept them from getting medical care when their cancers were small. Some of the myths more often heard were:

  • No one in my family ever had breast cancer. I don’t need to get mammograms…every woman is at risk for breast cancer as she ages. Most woman who get breast cancer have no known family members who had breast cancer
  • Men don’t get breast cancer… although rare, men do get breast cancer
  • Breast cancer is a punishment from God…breast cancer is a disease, not a punishment
  • Touching myself to do a breast exam is wrong…no, it can save your life
  • Breast cancer is a shame in my culture…there is nothing to be ashamed of, you did not give yourself breast cancer
  • I got breast cancer because I am so stressed…stress doesn’t give you breast cancer
  • Young women don’t get breast cancer…they do; not as frequently as older women, but they do
  • Breast cancer jumps from one breast to the other…not true
  • If I take radiation, I can’t be around anyone because I will be radioactive…not true
  • I got breast cancer because I wore bras that had under wires…not true
  • If I get chemo my hair will fall out and not grow back…your hair will grow back

We need to address the fears associated with getting mammograms. While I know there are some horror stories out there about mammograms that didn’t find a cancer, people like me, who went for annual mammograms, had our cancers caught early when they were easier to treat.

 

This entry was posted in Blog, Breast Cancer, Monday's with Jean Campbell, Navigating Breast Cancer and tagged , , , , , .