7 breast cancer misconceptions

7 breast cancer misconceptions

Our nation spends more money on breast cancer research than any other type of cancer. Still, many women are confused about the basics, like the signs, symptoms and treatments.

“With the deluge of information, tips and advice about breast cancer these days, it’s easy to get lost,” says Dr. Heidi Memmel, a breast surgeon at Advocate Health Care. “It’s more important than ever that women have a clear understanding of the issues.”

Dr. Memmel shares 7 of the biggest misconceptions to separate fact from the fiction:

1. Fiction: If I have no family history of breast cancer, then I am not at risk.

Fact: Approximately 70 percent to 75 percent of women who develop breast cancer have no family history.

2. Fiction: There is nothing I can do to reduce my risk of developing breast cancer.

Fact: We can’t completely prevent cancer, but we can reduce the risks by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, quitting smoking, and reducing our alcohol consumption.

3. Fiction: My mammogram was normal, so I don’t have to worry about getting breast cancer.

Fact: Mammograms are a good annual screening tool, but they do not detect all breast cancers.  It is still important to perform a self-breast exam once a month and have a doctor’s exam once a year.

4. Fiction: Underwire bras can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Fact: Underwire bras or trauma to the breast do not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

5. Fiction: Cancer cells can spread during a biopsy.

Fact: Cancer cells do not spread from a biopsy. A biopsy can confirm that cancerous cells are present.

6. Fiction: I’ve been cancer-free for five years from my diagnosis, so there is no chance of it returning.

Fact: There is less risk of a cancer returning in the breast or elsewhere in the body after five to 10 years, but there is still a slight risk. It’s important to see a doctor regularly and have regular mammograms.

7. Fiction: My weight and the size of my breasts do not affect my risk of breast cancer.

Fact: Obesity significantly increases the risk of developing breast cancer.  Obese women are more likely to be diagnosed with more aggressive tumors and diagnosed at a more advanced stage.

For more information on breast health, visit www.Storiesofthegirls.com.

Related Posts



  1. Breastfeeding also significantly reduces a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/breast-cancer-prevention/WO00091

  2. FICTION: American Cancer Doctors are Gods you should trust COMPLETELY with their version of the best cancer treatment. TRUTH: Non-toxic unpatentable cancer cures and prevention work BETTER than their over priced chemicals. You aren’t taught about them because they OWN the mainstream media and eventual death by cancer (number one cause of death in America) is incredibly powerful and profitable to medical cartels.

  3. Actually, the USPTF now discourages even self-exams due to the lack of evidence that they help to prevent death from breast cancer. Bottom line, if you’re not doing a self breast exam every month, don’t feel guilty!!

  4. Sorry, the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force)…

  5. I found a lump myself that was breast cancer by doing a self breast exam. It does not matter who recommends them or not. Do yourself a favor and do them regularly because we can only get a mammogram once per year. What about the other 11 months of the year?

  6. I found my lump through self examination….so I’d be ver wary about telling women not to check!.

  7. My breast cancer story: Had one mastectomy and then needed a second one. After that Doctor recommended Radiation and Chemo. I went to get my appointment date and he had his back to me at the desk when he said: “Radiation and Chemo would do you no good.” I left feeling as though a death sentence had been given to me. So, the next day he disappeared — never to be seen again and no one knew where he went. I had no Radiation or Chemo and lo and behold many, many years later I am cancer free. Could he have “known something?” Who knows?

  8. I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. I had a mammogram on a Friday that detected nothing. I found the lump on Sunday. By the time I got the report from the mammogram indicated “nothing significant” I was diagnosed. I am very concerned about the focus on mammograms without conversations about futher screening tools and very concerened about the current information that self exams are not necessary. The bottom line is know your breasts and your risk. I had dense breast tissue which greatly increased my risk and also made it very difficult for the mammo to detect it. By all means get mammos, but don’t stop there if you at higher risk.

  9. Very sad for those who have Breast cancer.. reciently a friend of mine have it and I start to do some research in it. I learn some chemo drugs for HER2 breast cancer …. Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Taxol, Herceptin, Perjeta…. the question is how effective are these drugs? I sometimes wonder if breast cancer is real or the drugs company pushing these drugs with these doctors for a quick buck?

  10. Iodine and selenium deficiencies need to be addressed for prevention of breast cancer. Women have an especially high requirement for iodine. Breast tissue is high in this mineral because it is need for infant brain development. (and this also makes me wonder if iodine deficiency is a factor in autism) The current RDAs are too low, and most people don’t even get that much.

  11. Lat November,I went through 1 biopsy a week,ultrasounds,mri guided biopsy,than a lumpectomy. Dx…Lobular Carcinoma in Situ. Was sent to an oncologist,he suggested,fervently,I take Tamoxifen for 5 years. I said no….I have Multiple Sclerosis and I do not trust these medications. Has anyone has this odd diagnoses?

  12. so I have to “solve an equation” before I submit my comment. does that mean if I am not good at math, my opinion does not have value?


Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.