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Breast Cancer: Separating Fact from Myth

Women in the United States have a higher rate of breast cancer than any other type of cancer except for skin cancer.

“One myth surrounding breast cancer is that it is a woman-only disease. Men can and do get breast cancer. In fact, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, in 2021 an estimated 2,560 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 530 will die – so it’s important for men and women to be vigilant,” Deepali Patni, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN specialist, cautions.

This is just one of the many myths surrounding breast cancer that Dr. Patni says could mean the difference between life and death when it comes to the early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Other myths include:

Myth: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.

Fact: "This is not true," says Dr. Patni, adding that a mammogram is one of the best tools available for the early detection of breast cancer. Both digital mammography and bone density testing are available at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Downtown at The Shops where Dr. Patni sees patients. She says that having a mammogram cannot cause cancer to spread, nor can the pressure put on the breast from the mammogram.

Myth: No one in the family has breast cancer, so there’s no reason for concern.

Fact: Dr. Patni says the truth is, most women who have breast cancer have no family history.

Myth: Having a family history of breast cancer means you will get it, too.

Fact: While women and men who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, it doesn’t guarantee they’ll get it. “Certainly if you have a mother, daughter, sister, or grandmother who had breast cancer, you should have a mammogram five years before the age of their diagnosis, or starting at age 35,” Dr. Patni urges.

Myth: Only older people get breast cancer.

Fact: This is a potentially dangerous myth because breast cancer can affect women of any age and 25 percent of women with breast cancer are younger than 50. “If you feel a lump – at any age – have it checked out,” says Dr. Patni.

Myth: Having a mastectomy is the best way to cure breast cancer and prevent it from recurring.

Fact: “Few women diagnosed with breast cancer actually need a mastectomy,” says Dr. Patni. “Breast cancer can often be treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and lumpectomy (tumor removal).”

By having regular screenings, including mammograms, you can help improve your chances of being diagnosed for breast cancer at an earlier stage.

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Deepali Patni, MD, FACOG

I believe in providing compassionate and uncompromising care to women in all stages of their lives.​