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16 Common Myths About Breast Cancer

y it on the spot and proceed to mastectomy if it showed signs of cancer. Today, it does not happen that way. Women have many more treatment options and a surgeon will always discuss these options with patients after a biopsy.

13. My breast lump is painful, so it must not be cancer since cancerous lumps are supposed to be painless. Generally breast cancers are painless, but pain alone cannot rule out cancer. Some women also believe that a painless lump must not be cancer. Again, not true. There’s no correlation between whether the lump is painful and whether it’s cancerous. Any lump should be checked by a doctor.

14. If cancer is exposed to air during surgery, it will spread. Surgery will not cause the cancer to spread. “The only thing that will promote cancer spread is a delay in diagnosis and failure to treat the cancer,” says Lisa Newman, M.D., MPH, director of the U-M Breast Care Center.

15. Radiation therapy is dangerous and will burn my heart, ribs and lungs. Current radiation techniques are safe and effective for treating breast cancer, with few complications. Methods used today minimize exposure to the heart, ribs and lungs. Women may experience a darkening of the skin during the course of treatment or a sunburn-like reddening. This will clear up after treatment is through.

16. Participating in a clinical trial is fine for others but not for me. Clinical research can offer high-quality care for everyone. In all clinical trials, the minimum any woman would receive is standard treatment. In some trials, participants receive standard treatment plus a new approach, such as a new drug or a new way to use an old drug. In other studies, researchers are seeking more answers about the biology of the cancer or the effects of the treatment, so that new ideas can be generated. In these cases, patients’ participation may be as simple as having an extra tube of blood drawn or answering a survey.

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