October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In reality, every month should be breast cancer awareness month due to the unfortunate reality that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
What exactly is breast cancer? It is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the breast. Sometimes, the process of cell growth goes wrong and new cells form when the body doesn’t need them and old or damaged cells do not die as they should. These damaged cells typically invade surrounding tissue and organs, but with early detection and treatment many people continue to live a normal life.
So, if many people continue to live a normal life then why is National Breast Cancer Awareness so important? Because breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women and there is no cure – yet. Additionally, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year. This month dedicated entirely to the men and women who have had any contact with this disease is also a vital opportunity for education and awareness. Below are some Breast Cancer Myths debunked from the National Breast Cancer Foundation:
Myth #1: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.
The truth: only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. But if you do discover a persistent lump, it should never be ignored.
Myth #2: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.
The truth: A mammogram, or x-ray of the breast, currently remains the gold standard for the early detection of breast cancer. Mammograms require very small doses of radiation and the benefits undoubtedly outweigh any potential harm.
Myth #3: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you are likely to develop breast cancer as well.
The truth: While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer actually have no family history. Only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of the disease.
The good news? Research has seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among those aged 50 and older. Recovery rates are increasing due to screening and early detection, increased awareness and continually improving treatments. Hopefully, Breast Cancer Awareness Month spreads beyond October and the depth of awareness and contributions leads to a cure.
For more breast cancer facts and information on how you can help visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.