10 Things You Didn’t Know About Breast Cancer
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Breast Cancer
You've heard the statistics surrounding breast cancer before. It's the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian women, one in nine women will develop breast cancer...the numbers and stats roll on. But there is still so much we don't know about the disease. There are myths that need to be dispelled and more information to be shared. October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month and W Dish has teamed up with the Canadian Cancer Society to share stories that educate and inspire.
To kick things off, here is a list of 10 things you probaby didn't know about breast cancer.
1. Wearing a bra does not cause breast cancer.
Who hasn’t seen a web article or received an email that says wearing a bra might cause breast cancer? Fortunately for women, there is no reliable, scientific evidence that shows a link between wearing a bra and developing breast cancer
2. The use of deodorant does not cause breast cancer.
Similar to the bra-giving-you-cancer stories, there have been reports, emails and websites that say using antiperspirants might cause breast cancer. These reports and emails incorrectly state that:
• the lead cause of breast cancer is the use of antiperspirants
• antiperspirants stop the body from perspiring (sweating), which keeps toxins inside the body
• nearly all breast cancers are in the upper outside quadrant of the breast area where the lymph nodes are located
• men are less likely to develop breast cancer because most of the antiperspirant is caught in the hair and not directly applied to the skin
There is no scientific evidence that antiperspirant or deodorant cause, or increase, a man's or woman's risk of breast cancer.
3. Breast implants do not cause breast cancer.
Studies show that women with breast implants are diagnosed with breast cancer at a similar stage and have a similar prognosis as women who do not have breast implants.
4. Men can get breast cancer.
Since breast cancer starts in the breast tissue, and men have breast tissue just like women, they can also develop breast cancer. It is, however, very rare; less than one per cent of all breast cancers occur in men . About 200 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in men in Canada every year. Men with a mutated BRCA gene have an increased risk of male breast cancer, or a five to 10 per cent chance of developing breast cancer in his lifetime.
5. Angelina Jolie’s situation is actually quite rare.
Angelina Jolie made headlines when she decided to have a preventative double mastectomy and removed her ovaries and fallopian tubes after testing positive for the BRCA gene mutations. The BRCA gene mutations put women at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
A woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she has a BRCA mutation, compared to women who don’t have a BRCA mutation. Women with a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have a 40 to 85 per cent chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.
But it’s important to note that the BRCA gene mutations account only for about five per cent of all breast cancers. Genes are not the only factor that affects cancer risk, so not every woman who inherits a BRCA gene mutation will develop breast or ovarian cancer. Undergoing preventative surgery for cancer is a very personal decision.
6. Both men and women can inherit a mutated BRCA gene from either their mother or father.
Both men and women can have the BRCA gene mutations and can pass it on to their children. If one parent has the mutation in one of the two copies of the BRCA gene, a child has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the gene mutation. Just like with any probability, this also means there is a 50 per cent chance that a child will not inherit the gene mutation.
7. Physical injury to the breast does not cause breast cancer.
Though one study suggests a link between physical trauma to the breast and breast cancer, the study was very small and there were many problems with how it was conducted. A diagnosis of cancer can happen soon after a physical injury — but this is because the exam or test for the injury leads to the discovery of a cancer.
8. A pregnant woman cannot pass on breast cancer to their unborn baby.
Although breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed during pregnancy, it is rare. About one out of every 3,000 pregnant women is diagnosed with breast cancer. There is no evidence that a pregnant woman can pass the breast cancer cells to her baby.
9. Mammograms can save your life.
Picture an apple seed and a cherry tomato — a cherry tomato is much larger. Mammograms can detect cancer early when the lump is small, about the size of an apple seed, at a stage when it’s most treatable. The average size of a lump found through breast self-exams is comparable to a cherry tomato, so at a stage when it’s larger and less treatable.
10. Pregnancy after breast cancer
Many women are concerned that they will not be able to have children after treatment for breast cancer. Some chemotherapy drugs used for breast cancer can cause fertility problems, especially in women who are over the age of 30 at the time of treatment.
Women who have had breast cancer during pregnancy are also concerned that another pregnancy will cause their breast cancer to recur. Most studies have shown that women who become pregnant after successful treatment for breast cancer do not have a higher risk of recurrence or a worse prognosis than women who chose not to have more children. However, most doctors will suggest that a woman wait two years after treatment has finished. Breast cancer that recurs within two years of treatment may be more aggressive, and a new pregnancy may make it more difficult to treat a recurrence.