My husband and I recently had the privilege of participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Chattanooga. I listened as my husband told the audience about how his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was nine and how she died from the disease when he was fourteen. As a child, my husband didn’t understand what breast cancer was. Unfortunately, he did understand what it was like to lose his mother.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to refresh your knowledge of the disease. As more research is done and advancements are made, it can be difficult to determine the latest and most trusted information on breast cancer. Please take the time to learn some common myths and facts about the disease, and share these with your mother, your daughters, your friends, and the other women in your life.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women: Fact.
In the United States, an estimated 252,710 women (and 2,470 men) are expected to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2017. In the state of Tennessee alone, an estimated 5,510 women will be diagnosed and 920 will die of the disease. The positive news is that if breast cancer is diagnosed and treated early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 99 percent.
If your mother did not have breast cancer, you are not at risk: Myth.
Although a family history of the disease does increase your risk, anyone can develop breast cancer. In fact, some women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. Regardless, it is important to know your family history and talk to a health care professional about your risk to determine when and how often you should get screened.
Obesity can increase your likelihood of developing breast cancer: Fact.
Studies show that obesity increases the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, possibly due to high estrogen levels found in fat tissue. Exercising regularly and eating a nutritious diet can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer: Myth.
No clear scientific evidence has been found to support this claim.
The more you know about breast cancer, the more you can do to reduce your risk of the disease. To learn more about risk factors, symptoms, and screening for breast cancer, visit www.preventcancer.org/breastcancer.
Brenda Fleischmann is a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, and the spouse of U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann. Statistics are provided by the American Cancer Society.