Constant vigilance is necessary to catch diseases like breast cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat them.

To increase awareness about the disease, October, every year, is referred to as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here are a few common myths related to breast cancer:

*I won’t get breast cancer.

This is the biggest myth people have. It is not just limited to breast cancer. Constant vigilance is necessary to catch diseases like breast cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat them.

*I don’t have a family history.

There are many factors which determine the development of breast cancer. Some of them are known and there may be other factors which the medical community may not know about. While genetics play an essential role in determining the susceptibility of a person towards breast cancer, it is not the only deciding factor. Environmental factors affect an individual to a large extent. Parabens found in cosmetics are linked to breast cancer, revealed Dr Sidharth Sahni, Sr Consultant, Surgical Oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.

*Contradiction: Save my breast at any cost, the more I lose, the better for me.

There is this misconception where patients expect that they will lose a portion of their breast tissue. It may not be necessarily true. Depending on the stage of the cancer, breast cancer can be treated without surgery as well.

Dr Sahni says, “There are women who implore us to save their breast at all costs, while there are some women who urge us to take away more tissue than necessary just to be on the safer side so that cancer doesn’t come back. It puts us in a precarious position because that is not how the surgical treatment of breast cancer works.”

*Wearing a bra can cause breast cancer.

With so much scientific literature available, there is readily some scientific claim to back one or the other. But Dr Sahni doesn’t agree that wearing a bra has any effect in the development of breast cancer. “Bras provide mechanical support; they don’t cause a physiological change in the composition of the breast tissue,” he says.

*Alternative treatment for breast cancer.

People are scared of breast cancer and they are equally scared of the treatment which can comprise surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These treatments have their own side effects which make people look for alternative medication to treat the disease. Dr Sahni cautions, “Unfortunately, there is no credible research on the successful effects of alternative medicinal techniques like homeopathy on the treatment of breast cancer. But people end up looking for alternative treatment options when they are at, say, stage 1, at which stage it is easier to treat breast cancer. But the chances of success decrease if the people come back at stage 3. This unawareness can be fatal for them.”





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