Breast Cancer: What's Myth and What's Fact

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month continues, there are so many messages and sponsorships that face us daily. Companies everywhere are flying the pink flag but how many of us know enough about the disease that is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Jamaican women and is responsible for 12% of the preventable deaths in Jamaica?

To make sure that we are all on the right page, so to speak, let’s run through 5 common myths about Breast Cancer.


Myth 1: “If I don’t have a family history of Breast Cancer, I’m not going to get it.”

Fact: You don’t have to have a family history of the disease to be diagnosed for it. While family history is one of the risk factors for Breast Cancer, the vast majority of those who are diagnosed have no family history.


family history
Family history may increase your risk but that doesn't mean that you will get the disease.

Myth 2: “If I have a family history of Breast Cancer, that means that I’m going to get it.”

Fact: While a family history of the disease may increase your risk, that does not mean that you will necessarily get Breast Cancer. If you are concerned about your risk and you have a family history of the disease, you can do further genetic testing to assess your risk. Talk to your physician about further screening.


Myth 3: “I have to have a lump in my breast for me to be diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Fact: Besides a lump in the breast, there are seven other warning signs of Breast Cancer; in fact, some are just visual! Examples include nipple discharge, a change in the look and feel of the breast, or a change in the look or feel of the nipple.


Myth 4: I’m young, I don’t have to worry about Breast Cancer

Fact: According to Dr. Sheray Chin (UHWI), 60 percent of Breast Cancer diagnosed in Jamaica is among women aged 25 to 59 and only 25% of the cases are for women over 60. In fact, the disease tends to be more aggressive and harder to treat in younger women.




mammography
Mammograms don't prevent cancer; they are screening tests

Myth 5: Having a mammogram will prevent me from getting Breast Cancer

Fact: Mammograms are screening tests and they will identify cancer that is already present in the breast. According to Dr. Chin, “the aim of a mammography is to detect cancer early before the appearance of any symptoms.” It’s important to remember that women should get their first annual mammogram starting at 40 years of age. Women under 40 should continue to do their self-checks and make sure that they consult with a doctor if they feel or see anything out of the ordinary.


Breast Cancer is usually managed by a general surgeon and to a certain degree, by your family physician.


Sources: jis.gov, jamaicaobserver.com, breastcancer.org, ww5.komen.org

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