Fact or Fiction? Breast Cancer

Fact or Fiction? Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

You probably know someone who’s had breast cancer — maybe that someone is even you. Breast cancer is, after all, the
second most common cancer (behind skin cancer) among women in the United States. About 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

The (very) good news is that regular screening can help find breast cancer in early stages when it’s most treatable. Let October be a reminder to schedule your yearly mammogram. And after you check that off your to-do list, take this quiz to see how much you know about breast cancer symptoms, screening, risk factors and other important facts.

1. The best way to screen for breast cancer is a self exam.

Correct

Wrong

fiction. The best way to screen for breast cancer is a mammogram. Mammograms are X-rays that can show lumps and signs of cancer that you may not be able to feel. Even women who have no symptoms of breast cancer should have a mammogram every year to help catch breast cancer as early as possible. Of course, if you notice any lumps or changes in your breasts, tell your healthcare provider (HCP) right away.

2. People assigned female at birth (AFAB) should start getting mammograms at age 40.

Correct

Wrong

fact. If you’re not at high risk for breast cancer, meaning you have no strong family history, no personal history and no genetic mutation like the BRCA gene, you should start getting annual mammograms at 40. If you’re at high risk for breast cancer, you should start getting mammograms when you’re 30. Note: If you’re worried about cost, free or low-cost mammogram services are available through the American Cancer Society.

3. A lump or swollen lymph node under the armpit can be a sign of breast cancer.

Correct

Wrong

fact. Breast cancer can spread to the nearby lymph system without showing any noticeable signs in the breast. Lumps that are hard and painless are more likely to be cancer.

4. A lump felt in your breast is — more often than not — something other than breast cancer.

Correct

Wrong

fact. Most lumps and bumps in your breast are not breast cancer. There are several conditions that can cause a lump, including a clogged milk duct, fibrosis or a cyst. But you should talk to your HCP about all lumps, bumps or changes in your breasts right away to rule out something more serious like breast cancer.

5. Non-Hispanic white women have the highest rate of breast cancer.

Correct

Wrong

fact. Non-Hispanic white women have a slightly higher chance of developing breast cancer than women of any other race or ethnicity. However, Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer due to social determinants of health like lack of access to advanced technologies, inadequate health coverage and delays in treatment. Black women also have a higher rate of triple negative breast cancer, which has fewer effective treatment options.

6. Most cases of breast cancer are linked to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 inherited gene mutation.

Correct

Wrong

fiction. BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations only account for 1 out of 10 breast cancer cases. But if you do have a family history of BRCA1/BRCA2 gene mutations, ask your HCP about testing and options available to you.

7. If you start menopause later than the average woman, you have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Correct

Wrong

fact. Late menopause is one of many factors that can increase your risk of breast cancer, along with starting your period before the age of 12. But that doesn’t mean you will definitely be diagnosed with the disease. Other factors include being assigned female at birth, age, genetics, radiation exposure and postmenopausal hormone therapy.

8. Metastatic breast cancer is a specific type of advanced breast cancer.

Correct

Wrong

fiction. Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is a stage of breast cancer, not a type. It’s also called stage 4 or advanced breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage, meaning the cancer has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body (often bones and major organs). About 6 out of 10 women have MBC when they are first diagnosed. For many women, it’s a recurrence from a previous breast cancer diagnosis.

9. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare type of breast cancer.

Correct

Wrong

fact. Inflammatory breast cancer cases make up less than 5% of all breast cancers. The most common type of breast cancer is invasive ductal carcinoma, which starts in the cells that line the milk duct in the breast. About 8 out of 10 breast cancer cases involve invasive ductal carcinoma.

10. About 1 in 5 new breast cancer diagnoses will be in the early stages and can be cured.

Correct

Wrong

fact. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is also called stage 0 breast cancer. It is a non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer inside a duct, meaning the cancer cells are still within the walls of the duct and have not spread outside the wall yet.