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BREAST CANCER- MYTHS AND FACTS

October 31, 2020

Shalby Hospitals

Oncology

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In these times of COVID pandemic, another dreaded 'C' disease is CANCER. The treatment for Cancer cannot be delayed even in pandemic. Cancer patient needs immediate investigation and staging of cancer so that appropriate treatment can be started as soon as possible.

Breast cancer has become the commonest cancer in women in India, accounting for nearly 14% of cancers in women. Incidence of breast cancer is increasing in younger age group, so greater awareness is required in the general population regarding the symptoms of breast cancer. As with all diseases, certain myths have become associated with breast cancer in the general population. These myths are further strengthened by lot of misinformation being shared on various social media platforms.

We would like to burst certain widely prevalent myths associated with breast cancer through this article, so that people can take timely advice and treatment.

  • Most common myth is that all lumps in breast are cancer. Scientific evidence has proven that 85-90% of lumps in breast are non-cancerous, especially in younger age group. But all lumps need to be examined and investigated by breast surgeon before one can label them as non-cancerous.
  • Second common myth is that pain in breast is a sign of breast cancer. Various studies have proven that breast cancer causes pain in only 10-11% of patients. Nearly 90% of patient's pain is due to hormonal change or some kind of infection in breast. However, before labelling the pain as harmless, one should obtain opinion of a breast surgeon. Most patients with pain in breast can be treated with counselling and painkillers.
  • Third common myth is that, if one gets needle test (FNAC/Tru-cut biopsy) of the breast lump, it will lead to spread of the cancer. So some patients avoid it and delay the diagnosis and treatment. It should be emphasized that needle test of breast lump is very essential to diagnose the nature of the lump (cancerous/non-cancerous) and to plan treatment accordingly. There is no risk of spread of the disease from needle; rather delay in diagnosis increases the risk of spread of cancer.
  • Another myth which may make a patient complacent is that normal mammogram means that there is no cancer. One should be clear that 10-15% of cancers are not picked up on mammograms due to various reasons like dense breasts, small size of the tumor, etc. So an opinion of the breast surgeon should be sought along with mammogram.
  • People often believe that breast cancer is hereditary and if they have no family history of breast cancer, they are safe. It should be stressed that only 5-10% of breast cancers are hereditary and 90-95% occur in people with no family history of cancer. So one should not ignore any lump in breast and get it properly examined and investigated.

One should do regular monthly breast self-examination to pick up any new change in breast and take treatment at the earliest. Mammography should also be done regularly as advised by your doctor.

These little measures will help keeping one healthy.

Source: Shalby Times

By Dr Preetinder Brar,(Consultant Breast and Laparoscopic Surgery,)

Shalby Hospitals, Mohali, Punjab.


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