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With an abundance of information on breast cancer at women’s disposal, safeguarding themselves against incorrect or inaccurate information is imperative. According to Breast Imaging Specialists, Dr. Shirley Lipschitz and Dr. Liat Malek, from the Breast Wellness Centre, in Johannesburg, misconceptions around breast cancer attribute to late or misdiagnosis, which can ultimately result in death.

 “We urge women to be discerning in the information they consume regarding breast cancer, and the decisions they make based on it,” says Casey Rousseau, Marketing Manager of 1st for Women Insurance.

The Breast Wellness Centre highlights six misconceptions about breast cancer and debunks them with the facts:

  1. If I don’t have a family history of breast cancer, I don’t need screening.
    Less than 10% of people diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history, and less than 5% have a hereditary gene. The majority of people diagnosed have NO family history of breast cancer.

  2. Mammograms are dangerous.
    Mammograms are a source of radiation, much like any X-ray, however these have never been proven to cause breast cancer. Through many studies and trials, it is thought that out of one million women, having annual mammograms from 30 to 40 years, only one or two women will develop a cancer as a result of the mammogram itself.

    In fact, the dose of a single mammogram is comparable to the radiation one would be exposed to on a flight to London.

  3. Breast cancer is a white woman’s disease.
    Based on 2014 statistics, in South Africa, breast cancer is the most common cancer in white, Asian and coloured women, and the second most common cancer in black women. The first most common cancer in black women is cervical cancer.  

  4. Breast cancer affects only women.
    Men can also develop breast cancer but the occurrence of this is low at less than 1%.  

  5. I don’t need a mammogram unless I feel a lump
    The aim of a mammogram is to diagnose breast cancer as early as possible even before any signs or symptoms develop. By the time a lump is felt, the breast cancer may have already progressed and started spreading outside the breast. Early breast cancer is easier and more successful to treat.

  6. Breast cancer cannot be treated
    Breast cancer is treatable and can be cured. There are many new and improved methods of treatment, both surgical and/or through the use of oral therapy, chemotherapy and/or radiation. The earlier breast cancer is found and treated, the more likely it is to be successfully eradicated – but more advanced cancers can also be successfully treated. 

To provide further clarity on the subject of breast cancer, the Breast Wellness Clinic provides answers to some frequently asked questions.

*This article was first published in the October 2018, 1st for Women press release.