NBCC Myths and Truths About Breast Cancer

Myth: an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution.
Truth: a true or actual state; verifiable; congruent with reality.

Over the last 25 years, pink ribbon culture has developed into its own social institution. Like all institutions, it has social norms that regulate it, beliefs that uphold it, and structures to disseminate and preserve it. No surprise that many of the collective beliefs supporting pink ribbon culture, upon close inspection, turn out to be false, unverifiable, or incongruent with reality.

Based on the current body of evidence and its mission, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC)  compiled a list of “31 myths and truths about breast cancer.” Much of this information is missing from mainstream breast cancer awareness campaigns.

NBCC is a nationwide advocacy organization founded in 1991 as a broad-based network of grassroots supporters and member organizations that included both breast cancer groups as well as groups focused on all cancers. Member organizations would maintain their own agendas for support, education, and advocacy. But as a coalition, they share the goals of shaping public policies, fostering empowered and evidence-based decision-making, and engaging administrative agencies, scientists, and health care professionals around a new breast cancer agenda.

Click the links below to read what NBCC has to say about of these common myths about breast cancer.

Myth #1: Monthly breast self-exams save lives

Myth #2: Mammograms can only help and not harm you

Myth #3: MRI is better than mammography because it finds more cancer

Truth #4: When breast cancer shows up on a mammogram, it may have been in your body for 6-10 years

Truth #5: Breast cancer mortality rates are declining

Myth #6: Mammograms prevent breast cancer

Truth #7: We don’t know how to prevent breast cancer

Myth #8: Most women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease

Myth #9: Men don’t get breast cancer

Truth #10: Risk of breast cancer increases with age; 50% of breast cancer occurs among women aged 62 years or older

Truth #11: Most people think they have a higher risk of breast cancer than they actually do

Myth #12: Everyone’s breast cancer is the same

Myth #13: Everyone who has a positive BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 test result will get breast cancer

Truth #14: The mortality rate from breast cancer is higher for African American women than for Caucasian women

Myth #15: In terms of survival, removing the entire breast is better than just cutting the cancer out and getting radiation

Myth #16: There are drugs that can prevent breast cancer

Myth #17: Once diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s very important to make treatment decisions immediately

Myth #18: Second opinions are only for treatment options. Once I know I have breast cancer, I can get a second opinion on how to treat the disease

Truth #19: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases your risk of breast cancer

Myth #20: With new treatments we can now cure breast cancer

Truth #21: You should question your doctor

Myth #22: If I am not a scientist, then I won’t be able to understand breast cancer research

Truth #23: Your tax dollars fund a significant amount of breast cancer research

Myth #24: My Senators and Members of Congress have no role in what happens in breast cancer

Myth #25: The media accurately reports breast cancer science

Myth #26: All breast cancer research is good because it moves us toward prevention and a cure

Myth #27: Breast cancer survivors are too close to the issue to participate in how research money is spent

Truth #28: Less than 3% of adult cancer patients participate in clinical trials

Truth #29: I can educate myself

Truth #30: I can influence what happens in Washington D.C. about breast cancer

Truth #31: I can make a difference


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