Except for skin cancer, breast cancer has become the most common cancer in American women. While its position at Number 2 has prompted an increase in overall awareness, there is still some confusion of how breast cancer affects us on a micro level. Breast Cancer Awareness is much more than pink attire, well organized walks, and witty slogans regarding mammograms. While these are all great and do their part in providing support, while serving as a brilliant way to keep the conversation going, we cannot afford to stop there. Awareness is more than simply knowing that it exists, it is educating yourself and others on the facts and how it potentially affects you and those around you. Awareness is a state of consciousness, and true consciousness ignites change.
Turning awareness into action is fairly simple to do. It starts with getting our facts straight and challenging what we think we know about breast cancer. For every piece of factual information, there are also myths that limit our perspective and cloud our judgement. Therefore, We have compiled a short list of myths and corresponding truths, so that you move forward well-informed, and ready to do your part in the fight against breast cancer.
Myth #1 Breast Cancer is an Older Woman’s Disease.
While it is true that most women are diagnosed with breast cancer after 50, 11% of all breast cancer cases occur in women under the age of 45. According to the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, increased exposure to radiation, close relatives who were diagnosed at a younger age, dense breasts, and changes in breast cancer genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are some reasons why even young women can be high risk too.
Myth #2 Breast Cancer is hereditary, so there is nothing that I can do.
It is true that there are breast cancer cases linked to family history, specifically those involving first-degree relatives. However, there are various factors to consider when determining breast cancer risk. There are also actions that you can take to reduce the risk, such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol, getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and even breastfeeding your children, if applicable are all things that you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Myth #3 If I had Breast Cancer, I’d feel it.
Not necessarily. While it is commonly, and accurately, stated that finding a lump in your breast should prompt a visit to your doctor, it is not the only symptom. There are some women who show no signs at all! This is why it is critical to work with your doctor to determine your risk level and create a plan of action.
Myth #4 Breast Cancer is a Death Sentence.
False. Yes, breast cancer can be deadly but it does not have to be. There are several treatment options available that will aid in the fight against breast cancer. In fact, there have been significant reductions in deaths associated with breast cancer. Early detection plays a vital role in increasing rates of survival.