Myth 1: Family history is present in most women diagnosed with breast cancer.
FALSE. More than 75% of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and less than 10% have a known gene mutation that increases risk.
We know a little about breast cancer risk factors, but why some women develop breast cancer and others do not, is still often a mystery. It is important for all women, regardless of family history, to have annual mammograms beginning at age 40.
Family history of breast cancer refers to having two or more first-degree relatives (such as a mother, sister, or daughter) or second-degree relatives (such as an aunt, niece or grandmother) diagnosed with breast cancer. Those with first degree relatives with breast cancer are at increased risk of developing breast cancer compared with women without affected relatives.
If you have a family history, it does not mean you have an inherited mutation. Women with inherited mutations of the genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 may result in increased risk of breast cancer. The mutations are sometimes (but not always) passed down to relatives and represent only 5-10% of breast cancer cases.
Myth 2: Lumps found on or around the breast are the only sign of breast cancer for which to routinely check.
No. Here are eight more signs and symptoms of breast cancer that could save your life.
- Changes in the skin texture on or around your breast: A lump inside the breast may cause in the breast to shorten and skin to pull inwards resulting in a puckered or dented appearance.
- Changes in the skin texture on or around breast: Dimpling of the skin could suggest that the tiny channels in the breast, called lymph vessels, which help get rid of waste products from the body, have become blocked.
- Thickening of the breast tissue. A lump in the cells within the milk-secreting glandular lobules may cause.
- Developing an eczema-like rash or redness on the nipple or the surrounding area. Although very rare, this redness can be linked to a disease that is associated with breast cancer called Paget’s disease.
- Unusual discharge (such as blood or pus) from the nipple.
- The nipple changes such as inversion or changes in shape and position.
- Visible veins on the breast
- Swelling in the armpit
Myth 3. Men can’t get breast cancer.
Men can get breast cancer. While breast cancer in men comprises less than 1% of all breast cancers, it does occur. Men have breast tissue. Per the American Cancer Society, other factors including age, high estrogen levels, radiation exposure, alcohol consumption, a strong family history of breast cancer, or genetic mutations may increase a man’s risk of breast cancer.