Pink_ribbon_svgIf you’re like me, you have one or more friends or family members who have been affected by breast cancer.

Every October a nationwide campaign increases awareness of the disease, but myths persist.

Below are seven such myths and the facts to debunk.

MYTH: Finding a lump in your breast = breast cancer.

The Facts: Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. However, if you discover a persistent lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, do NOT ignore. See a physician. He can assess the risk through breast imaging tests.

MYTH: Men cannot get breast cancer.

The Facts: Each year approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 410 will die. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less, which causes a delay in seeking treatment.

MYTH: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.

The Facts: A mammogram is the current gold standard for the early detection of breast cancer. Breast compression during a mammogram cannot cause cancer to spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low.”

MYTH: A family history of breast cancer means you are likely to develop breast cancer.

The Facts: A family history of breast cancer places you in a higher risk group, but ten percent of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.

The Risk Factor Correlations:

  • If you have a mother, daughter, or sister who developed breast cancer below the age of 50, you should consider some form of regular diagnostic breast imaging starting 10 years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis.
  • If you have had a grandmother or aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk increases slightly, but it is not in the same risk category as those who have a first degree relative with breast cancer.
  • If you have multiple generations diagnosed with breast cancer on the same side of the family, or if there are      several individuals who are first degree relatives to one another, or several family members diagnosed under age 50, the probability increases that there is a breast cancer gene contributing to the cause of this familial history.

MYTH: Breast cancer is contagious.

The Facts: Breast cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that begin to spread into other tissues within the breast.

MYTH: The gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2 detected in your DNA means you will definitely develop breast cancer.

The Facts: According to the National Cancer Institute, “not every woman who has a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast and/or ovarian cancer. But, a woman who has inherited a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have such a mutation.”

MYTH: Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer.

The Facts: Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.

Material in this blog from the National Cancer Institute and the National Breast Cancer Organization.


  • Take charge of your health. Perform routine breast self-exams, get an annual clinical breast exam, and schedule your routine screening mammograms.
  • Go Pink to show your support: Now through October 31, 2013, CafePress is donating 10% from the final purchase price of their breast cancer awareness products.
  • Give to Breast Cancer Research: Click this link to donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation