Breast Cancer is a disease which is caused when cells in the breast grow out of control. Breast cancer is more common in women but can also occur in men. According to GLOBACAN, female breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world in 2020.
The Center for Disease Control says, breast cancer screening means checking a woman’s breast for cancer before there are signs and symptoms of the disease and one of the most effective methods of screening for breast cancer is through mammography.
In Nigeria one of the major problems with the outcomes of breast cancer disease is late presentation and this is responsible for the poor 5-year survival rate from breast cancer which is less than 10% in Nigeria. Late presentation is attributable to low breast cancer screening uptake, because of relatively low awareness when compared to developed countries, as well as some wrong myths surrounding screening.
In this article, we will be bursting some of the myths surrounding breast cancer screening.
- Nobody in my family has ever had breast cancer so I am not at risk: The chances of getting breast cancer are higher if your mother, daughter or sister had breast cancer but majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have family history of the disease. Therefore once a woman is over the age of 50 should get screened.
- I have lived this long and I don’t have breast cancer so I cannot get it: Not true, your risk for breast cancer actually increases with age and most cases of breast cancer are diagnosed after the age of 55, so it is important to keep getting screened.
- If I get screened they will find cancer: There is no need to be afraid that you will surely have cancer if you get screened. Most mammograms come back normal and if something of concern is found, it does not mean it is surely cancer. Cancer can only be confirmed with further testing through biopsies.
- Mammograms hurt: Well, mammograms may feel slightly uncomfortable. To lessen the discomfort during mammograms, it is best to schedule it after you have had your period. Be sure to let the technologist know if you feel any pain.
- Mammograms are expensive: The cost of treating cancer when caught at a late stage is more expensive. Chances of surviving breast cancer when caught early through regular screening is higher. Make the right choice!