Dedicated to the care of breast cancer and all breast conditions
+27 (0)11 484 0334
info@raynebreastcare.co.za
Parklane Hospital Women’s Wellness Centre
Waterfall Hospital (North): Rooms 210, South Block
 
I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer- help!
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I’ve noticed a lump in my breast
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I have breast pain               
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I need advice about breastfeeding
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Mythbusting!  
Truth and Lies in Breast Cancer
I originally wrote this for a website called ‘A New Uprising’ that is meant to teach and inspire young South Africans to live with better choices and fulfil their dreams. Check it out at www.anewuprising.co.za

All women are at risk from breast cancer but every woman has an individual risk. The greatest risks are simply being female and getting older. Often you will hear people talk about their beliefs around breast cancer- which are true and which are not?

Remember not every breast problem could be breast cancer but every problem can be treated. Whether you have pain in the breasts, a lump, a nipple discharge or your breasts are simply painful and heavy, have a chat to a specialist who can help you.

I’m not at risk because no one in my family has had breast cancer
Breast cancer only happens in old women
Breast cancer is painful
If you have breast cancer you’ll feel a lump
I can't have reconstruction- it will cost too much time and money
Will regular mammograms prevent cancer?
Will eating a healthy diet prevent breast cancer?
Radiation and mammograms cause breast cancer
Breast Self-Examination (BSE) isn’t worth doing regularly

I’m not at risk because no one in my family has had breast cancer
Even though there is a lot of information available about breast cancer risks and reducing your risk, up to 75% of women who get breast cancer have no history in the family of breast cancer, and none of the risk factors we know about. The lifetime risk of breast cancer in South Africa is not known but worldwide it is 1 in 8, however only 1 in 100 women will develop breast cancer before the age of 50.
 
Breast cancer only happens in old women
Everyone who has breasts has a risk of breast cancer. The youngest woman we have treated in Johannesburg was 9 years old! It is true that your risk of breast cancer increases with your age, but 25% of cancers occur in women under the age of 50 and 5% of breast cancer happens to women in their 20s and 30s. It is tragic to see a young women diagnosed late because no-one thought it could happen to them, so every women needs to be breast aware and examine themselves.
 
Breast cancer is painful
Unlike most cancers, breast cancer does not present with pain. That doesn’t mean that if you have a painful lump it can’t be cancer, but it is unusual for pain to be the first thing a women with breast cancer notices. The most common way that women find a breast cancer is when they feel a lump in the breast or notice a discharge from the nipple. In the future, we want breast cancer to be found on mammogram, before there is even a lump, because we know that the earlier a cancer is detected, the better it can be treated.
 
If you have breast cancer you’ll feel a lump
Approximately ten percent of breast cancers present without a lump, and in fact when you do feel a lump in your breast, around 80-85% of those are benign. Most lumps felt in the breast are not cancers but might be cysts or masses known as fibroadenomas.

Cancer can show up without a lump, and if you experience some of these other symptoms you should also get checked out:
  • Change in the size and shape of the breast
  • Thickening of the skin of the nipple or ulceration
  • Eczema of the nipple, itching or scaly patches
  • Nipple turning inwards
  • Thickening or dimpling of the skin of the breast
  • Lumps noticed under the arm
 
I can’t have reconstruction- it will cost too much time and money
Breast cancer treatment has changed so much in the last thirty years. The days of having a mastectomy and ‘considering yourself lucky’ are long gone. Every women who is treated for breast cancer today, has the right to reconstructive surgery. Commonly the surgery can be carried out using Breast Conserving Treatment (BCT) which means not the entire breast is taken away, or reconstruction can be carried out at the same time as a mastectomy. Sometimes reconstruction is delayed, but it is very very rare that it is not possible at all. Reconstruction is also designated a Prescribed Minimum Benefit by Medical Aids in South Africa which means even the medical aids recognise how important it is and that it should be covered in your care plan.
 
Will regular mammograms prevent cancer?
Regular mammography provides a method of early diagnosis and allows doctors to investigate worrying areas of the breast before they develop into cancer, but it does not prevent a patient from getting cancer. We have not developed any method of doing that yet. We only know how to reduce the risk of getting cancer.
 
Will eating a healthy diet prevent breast cancer?
This is difficult because eating a healthy diet is good for you, and can reduce your risk of other cancers such as colon cancer. It is also good for your heart to eat healthily and exercise regularly. There is no known way to prevent breast cancer however, and there is no diet (despite some being marketed) to prevent or reduce breast cancer. It is a good idea to lose weight however, because we know that increased weight can increase your risk of breast cancer after the menopause.
 
Radiation and mammograms cause breast cancer
The radiation used for a mammogram is at a very small dose. Over the years of developing better medical care, this dose has got even lower (fifty times less). The benefit of detecting cancer early and treating it through having a mammogram is really worth it At present mammogram and ultrasound (with occasional MRI on high risk patients) are the only proven methods of picking up breast cancer. Other tests such as thermography, electrical waves or touch machines have no scientific evidence to show they work. They are not recommended by any international breast health guidelines.
 
Breast Self-Examination (BSE) isn’t worth doing regularly
We know that the best way to detect breast cancer is a mammogram and ultrasound (before there is a lump to feel), but does that mean that BSE is a waste of time? The answer is no! Of course it is better to pick up cancer as early as possible, and part of that is learning to be breast aware. That means learning to love your breasts, and getting to know your body. You may be the best person to pick up when something is wrong with your body if you learn what is normal for you and what is not.
 
 
 
 
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