Its time that I dispel the myths of breast cancer that we have as black women which prevents early detection and treatment options.
#1 - I don't have to worry about getting breast cancer because no one in my family has it. Wrong! (95% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are the first one in their family to have it. Familial breast cancer/genetic breast cancer in seen in about 5-10% of all cases")
#2 - Mammograms cause cancer. (Wrong! The amount of radiation you receive from a mammogram is equal to what you are exposed to when you are in a airplane. In other words minimal.)
#3 - Breast cancer is a dealth sentence. (Wrong! Early stage breast cancer is curable. 98% of women with Stage 1 & 2 will be survivors.)
#4 - All women will get chemotherapy. (Wrong! You are unique, your cancer is unique to you, and your treatment will be unique to your cancer. There are other medicines that we can use to treat and prevent cancer recurrence other that chemotherapy. We can use a tool called Oncotype Dx to determine if chemotherapy will be helpful for you).
#5 - Underwire bras cause cancer. (Wrong! It has not be proven that any clothing items causes cancer).
#6 - Breast pain means I have cancer. (Not necessarily. Breast pain is extremely common. Only 10% of women with breast cancer report pain. Breast pain can be secondary to hormones, Fibrocystic breasts, caffeine, cysts, costochondritis, Muscle strain, neck problems or a thrombosed vein in the skin.
#7 - A negative mamogram means I can't have cancer. (Not exactly!) Mammograms are the best exam we have to detect cancer, however they can miss masses 10% of the time that can be cancer. 25% of invasive cancers will be missed on a mammogram in women 40-49 and 15% will be missed in women 50-59. Some cancers will display clues (calcifications or a mass) on a mammogram and some cancers will not.
#8 - If I need a biopsy that means I have cancer. (Wrong!) 80% of core biopsies will be for benign (not cancerous) problems. 20% will be for cancer.