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Fact vs. Fiction: Three Breast Cancer Truths You Need to Know

October 09, 2019

When it comes to breast cancer there’s a lot of information – and misinformation – out there, making it difficult for patients to distinguish fact from fiction. Here to set the record straight is Jennifer Snow, D.O., who specializes in breast cancer surgery at Texas Breast Specialists and sees patients in Granbury and Southwest Fort Worth.

Part of my job as a breast surgeon is to talk to patients and their caregivers about their concerns and answer questions about their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment options. These conversations are so important and, naturally, provide an opportunity to address misconceptions about breast cancer. Here are some of the most common myths I hear from patients. 

Fiction: I don’t have a family history of cancer, so I can’t get cancer.
Fact: You do not have to have a family history to develop breast cancer.  

The most common myth I encounter is that most people believe if they do not have a family history of breast cancer, they are not likely to get it. What people should know is that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, regardless of their family history. 

Fiction: Men don’t get breast cancer.
Fact: A man’s breast cancer risk is much less than a woman’s, however it can still happen.   

The American Cancer Society estimates 2,670 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States in 2019. One of the most emotionally challenging cases at my practice was a male breast cancer patient who had a mass in his breast for three years. He was afraid to discuss it with his physician and didn’t believe he could get breast cancer. By the time he was diagnosed, the breast cancer had spread to other parts of his body.

Breast cancer is not just a woman's disease, and men need to check their breast tissue on a regular basis just as women need to do self-breast exams.”

See your physician if you’re concerned, and don’t be afraid to speak up. It could save your life.

Fiction: Mastectomy is my only option.
Fact: Options for breast cancer surgery include mastectomy or lumpectomy (partial mastectomy), also known as breast conserving surgery.  

Although some patients require mastectomy, this is not the case for all patients. Most breast cancers are diagnosed at earlier stages and can be treated with breast conserving surgery, such as a lumpectomy. Other treatments may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, proton therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or hormonal therapy, or a combination. Multiple factors go into making a surgical decision. Ultimately, the decision for which surgery is best depends on many factors and requires open and honest conversation between patients, their caregivers, and their breast surgeon. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Texas Oncology wants men and women of all ages to stay informed about screenings, prevention, and risk factors. Download the breast cancer fact sheet and share it with others.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.