We dispel the myths surrounding breast cancer
Because of the intimate nature of breast cancer there are many myths surrounding the disease. However the news is generally good and here we try to tackle some of the more common ones:
Younger women have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than older women.
False: Younger women often over-estimate their likelihood of getting breast cancer whilst older women under-estimate their risk. In fact, the risk of breast cancer increases with age. But it's never too early to be breast aware.
All breast lumps are cancerous
False: In fact, nine out of ten breast lumps are not cancerous. But lumps are not the only sign of breast cancer. There could be other changes such as dimpling and puckering of the skin or changes in the nipple.
Be breast aware and see your GP as soon as possible if you have any concerns. Check your breasts regularly and, if you are over 50, keep your screening appointments.
More than 1,000 women lose their lives to breast cancer every month in the UK
True: However, the number of people dying from breast cancer each year is going down. This is probably due to improvements on all fronts - the national screening service, better treatments and general breast awareness. Early detection and prompt treatment can save lives.
More women are being diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK now than 10 years ago.
True: The number of women being diagnosed with breast cancer has increased by around twenty-five per cent in the last decade.
This may be largely due to better detection of breast cancer. However, more than 35,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year.
You can prevent yourself from getting breast cancer
We don't know what all the risk factors are for breast cancer. Some are well established (such as age), but the picture is less clear for other factors such as diet, exercise and environment.
Many theories are reported, but the reality is that more research is needed to establish whether they are valid. That is why Breakthrough Breast Cancer is calling on the government to focus more on the issue of breast cancer prevention.
Only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk
False: Five to ten per cent of breast cancer cases are linked to hereditary genes. The fact that someone in your family has had breast cancer doesn't mean that you will get it, although you may be at higher risk. Equally, just because nobody in your family has had breast cancer doesn't mean that you won't. Remember to be breast aware.
Men can't get breast cancer
False: Men can get breast cancer too. The most recent figures show 279 cases diagnosed in men and 80 deaths per year in the UK.
If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she will have her breast removed
False: Having breast cancer doesn't always mean losing a breast. Thanks to research, treatments are continually improving. Some types of cancer can be treated by removing the lump, possibly followed by other treatments such as radiotherapy or drug treatments. It's worth remembering that early detection and prompt treatment saves lives.