WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer, resulting in 685,000 deaths worldwide. By the end of 2020, 7.8 million women had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five years, making it the most prevalent cancer globally.
Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the breast. Various types of breast cancer exist, depending on which cells in the breast become cancerous.
Most breast cancers originate in the ducts or lobules. Breast cancer can spread beyond the breast through blood vessels and lymph vessels. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is said to have metastasized.
TYPES OF BREAST CANCER
The most common types of breast cancer are—
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – This type of cancer develops when abnormal milk duct lining cells transform and spread into nearby breast tissue. Once this occurs, cancer cells can spread to lymph nodes or the bloodstream, resulting in metastatic breast cancer.
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma – Invasive cancer occurs when cancer cells have expanded beyond the lobule of origin and can potentially spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
Less common types of breast cancer include Paget’s disease, medullary, mucinous, and inflammatory breast cancer.
HOW CANCER GROWS?
Cancer initiates when abnormal cells form within specific body tissues, such as the bladder lining or breast ducts, leading to tumour development. These cancer cells have the ability to breach the protective basement membrane, marking them as invasive cancer. As tumours grow, cancer cells can infiltrate nearby tissues, causing local invasion. Additionally, they may release enzymes that break down normal cells.
Moreover, cancer can metastasize, with cells breaking away from the primary tumour and travelling through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to establish secondary growths in distant parts of the body.
8 MOST COMMON MYTHS OF BREAST CANCER
There is a lot of misinformation out there, which leads to common breast cancer misconceptions. Make sure you understand the breast cancer myths and facts and have a clear understanding of both.
Myth 1: Wearing tight bras with underwire can cause breast cancer
Wearing any type of bra, including underwire or black bras, does not cause breast cancer. Some individuals worry that underwire bras might obstruct the flow of lymph fluid in the breast, leading to a toxin buildup, but there is no solid evidence for this. The key is to find a bra that fits comfortably and suits your lifestyle. Many department stores offer bra-fitting services to help you find the right fit.
Myth 2: Deodorants cause breast cancer
Using deodorant or antiperspirant does not lead to breast cancer. Some claims have suggested that these products could increase the risk of breast cancer by harmful chemicals being absorbed into the lymph nodes and affecting breast cells. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting this link. It is safe to use antiperspirants and deodorants.
Myth 3: Breast cancer only affects older women
While most cases of breast cancer occur in women aged 50 and older, it’s important to know that breast cancer can affect people of any age. As you get older, your risk of breast cancer does increase, but that doesn’t mean young women and men are immune.
It’s crucial for women of all ages to regularly check their breasts for signs of breast cancer. These signs include feeling a lump or mass in the breast, nipple discharge, changes in breast color, redness or flakiness in the skin around the breast, alterations in breast size or shape, and inverted nipples. Early detection is key, regardless of your age.
Myth 4: Only women get breast cancer
It’s a common misconception that only women can get breast cancer. The truth is, though it’s rare, men can also develop breast cancer because they have breast tissue too. While it’s more common in older men, it can happen at any age. Men may experience similar breast cancer symptoms to women, such as a lump or swelling in the breast, nipple discharge, or changes in the skin’s appearance, like redness or flakiness.
Just like women, men’s breast cancer risk factors can include an unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, family history, excessive alcohol consumption, and age. Additionally, certain prostate conditions can also increase a man’s chances of developing breast cancer. So, it’s essential for everyone, regardless of gender, to be aware of these risks and symptoms.
Myth 5: A breast lump indicates that you have breast cancer.
Some people believe that breast cancer always creates a noticeable lump that can be felt when doing self-exams. This belief may lead them to skip mammograms, thinking they can detect any issues by touch alone. However, breast cancer doesn’t always produce a lump, and by the time one appears, the cancer might have already spread to the lymph nodes or beyond. While performing self-exams is important, it shouldn’t replace the regular screening provided by mammography.
Myth 6: If there is no history of breast cancer in your family, you are safe.
The majority of individuals with breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease. Breast cancer isn’t solely passed down through genes. In fact, a significant portion of breast cancer cases aren’t inherited. Many people diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have any family background. Only a small percentage, around 5-10%, of those with breast cancer have a familial link to the disease.
There are various other risk factors, such as obesity, smoking, and alcohol use, that can increase the chances of developing breast cancer. Interestingly, two people with similar lifestyles may not both develop breast cancer. Doctors don’t have a precise understanding of the causes of breast cancer. However, if there’s a history of breast cancer in your family, it’s crucial to perform regular self-examinations and undergo cancer screenings.
Myth 7: Sugar intake can cause Breast cancer
No, there’s no evidence to suggest that consuming sugar directly worsens cancer or that quitting sugar will cause cancer to shrink or vanish. However, it’s worth noting that a diet high in sugar can lead to weight gain, and being overweight is linked to a higher risk of developing various types of cancer.
Myth 8: Can breast cancer be transmitted through breastfeeding?
The simple answer is NO!. Breastfeeding is a protective factor, with women who have breastfed their children carrying a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Women are exposed to certain hormones in their life due to their menstrual cycles. These hormones can increase the risk of developing certain cancers. The months of pregnancy and breastfeeding decrease their menstrual cycles thus reducing their exposure to these hormones. Although the risk of developing breast cancer is low, women should always consult their doctors if they have concerns about their breast health.
There are many myths about breast cancer, and we’ve aimed to debunk the most common ones in this blog. We encourage you to share this correct information with your loved ones, empowering breast cancer warriors with knowledge. Raising awareness and detecting breast cancer early are crucial steps in winning the battle against it.
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