Debunking the Myths: Who Can Get Breast Cancer?

Myth: I’m too young to get breast cancer.

One of the risk factors for breast cancer is advancing age, which means that breast cancer is more common in older women. However, even young women in their 20s or 30s can develop breast cancer. It’s important for all women to get regular clinical breast exams and practice breast self-awareness. In addition, women should begin annual mammograms at age 40.

Myth: None of my relatives have had breast cancer, so it is impossible for me to get it.

One of the factors that increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer is a family history of the disease. However, the majority of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have any family history of the disease.

Myth: Only women can get breast cancer.

While the majority of breast cancers are found in women, men can develop it as well since they have breast tissue. Overall, the risk of a man getting breast cancer is very low.

Myth: I eat healthy and exercise so there is no way I can get breast cancer.

Maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise and cutting back on alcohol are some ways to help lower the risk of developing breast cancer. While these things can be controlled, there are other things that cannot be controlled that could increase one’s risk.

In many cases, it’s not always clear what causes breast cancer in an individual. There are some individuals who develop breast cancer even though they have very few risk factors. On the other hand, there are individuals who have several risk factors who never develop breast cancer.

What symptoms should I look for?

If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s important that you see your health care provider right away.

  • A lump, hard knot or thickening in or near your breast or under your arm
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash of the nipple
  • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts
  • Nipple discharge (fluid that is not breast milk)
  • New pain in a spot that does not go away