With an abundance of information on
breast cancer at women’s disposal, safeguarding themselves against incorrect or
inaccurate information is imperative.
Misconceptions around breast cancer attribute
to late or misdiagnosis which can be deadly, according to Breast Imaging
Specialists, Dr. Shirley Lipschitz and Dr. Liat Malek, from the Breast Wellness
Centre, in Johannesburg.
Women are encouraged to
get as much correct information about breast cancer as they can.
“This Breast Cancer Awareness Month,
we urge women to be discerning in the information they consume regarding breast
cancer, and the decisions they make based on it,” says 1st for Women’s Casey
The Breast Wellness Centre highlights
six misconceptions about breast cancer and debunks them with the facts:
- If I don’t have a family history of breast
cancer, I don’t need screening.
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.
- Mammograms are dangerous.
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, for example, London.
- Only some women can develop breast cancer
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
- Breast cancer affects only women.
can also develop breast cancer but the occurrence of this is low at less than
- I don’t need a mammogram unless I feel a lump
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.
- Breast cancer cannot be treated
cancer is treatable and can be cured. There are many new and improved methods
of treatment, both surgical and/or through the use of hormonal 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.
provide further clarity on the subject of breast cancer, the Breast Wellness
Clinic provides answers to some frequently asked questions:
- When should I start having regular mammograms?
should start regular screening mammograms at the age of 40. Research has shown
that when women start screening from the age of 40, more lives are saved. Women
at high risk for breast cancer should consult a breast specialist as they may
need to be monitored differently.
- Who is at higher risk for breast cancer?
are multiple factors that may contribute to a women being at higher risk for
breast cancer, including: family history, genetic factors (BRCA1 and BRCA2 –
sometimes referred to as the Angelina Jolie gene), personal history, and
hormonal factors. If you think you are at a higher risk to develop breast
cancer, please consult a physician.
- How often should I have a mammogram?
should be done annually or every two years.
- What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
- A lump or thickening in the breast, or in the
- Skin dimpling and/or redness of the skin.
- Nipple changes such as a nipple discharge, nipple
inversion, discoloration or eczema-like changes.
- Shrinkage of the breast or increase in size of
- What is 3D mammography?
mammography or Tomosynthesis is an advanced, relatively new technology, which
scans small sections of the breast. This allows the radiologist to look through
the breast tissue, improving the detection of small breast cancers. When
combined with the correct software, 3D mammography or Tomosynthesis uses less
or the same amount of radiation as regular 2D mammograms.
to accurate information, from reputable sources, is critical to seeking and
receiving the correct diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer – but so is
being prepared with relevant insurance. 1st for Women’s All Women Dread
Disease Cover provides cover for female cancers, including breast cancer –
ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of should the unthinkable happen,”