Six deadly mis­con­cep­tions about the dis­ease de­bunked

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1. If I don’t have a fam­ily his­tory of breast can­cer, I don’t need screen­ing: Fewer than 10% of peo­ple di­ag­nosed have a fam­ily his­tory and fewer than 5% have a hered­i­tary gene. Most peo­ple di­ag­nosed have no fam­ily his­tory of breast can­cer.

2. Mam­mo­grams are dan­ger­ous: Mam­mo­grams are a source of ra­di­a­tion, like any X-ray. How­ever, these have never been proved to cause breast can­cer. Through many stud­ies and tri­als, it is thought that out of 1 mil­lion women, hav­ing an­nual mam­mo­grams from 30 to 40 years, only one or two will de­velop a can­cer as a re­sult of the mam­mo­gram. 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.

3. Only some women can de­velop breast can­cer: Based 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 women.

4. Breast can­cer af­fects only women: Men can also de­velop it but the oc­cur­rence is low – at less than 1%.

5. I don’t need a mam­mo­gram un­less I feel a lump: The aim of a mam­mo­gram is to di­ag­nose breast can­cer as early as pos­si­ble, be­fore signs or symp­toms de­velop. By the time a lump is felt, the breast can­cer might have spread. Early breast can­cer is eas­ier and more suc­cess­ful to treat.

6. Breast can­cer can­not be treated: It is treat­able and can be cured. There are many new and im­proved meth­ods of treat­ment – sur­gi­cal and/or through the use of hor­monal ther­apy, chemo­ther­apy and/or ra­di­a­tion. The ear­lier breast can­cer is treated, the more likely it is to be suc­cess­fully erad­i­cated – but more ad­vanced can­cers can also be suc­cess­fully treated. – Source: 1st for Women

PIC­TURES: SUP­PLIED

THEN AND NOW: Yavi Madu­rai re­flects on her can­cer jour­ney.

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