Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

ABC News Covers Dr. Val’s Top 4 Breast Cancer Myths

1. Myth #1: Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family, so I’m less likely to get it.

A strong family history predicts breast cancer in only 5-10% of women in the US. In fact, 80% of breast cancer cases occur in women with no known family history of breast cancer whatsoever.

2. Myth #2: A lump in my breast means that I have breast cancer.

Lumps are usually (80% of the time) not breast cancer. Breast tissue can be fairly lumpy in normal breasts, and these normal lumps often come and go with hormonal changes in the monthly cycle. A lump that doesn’t come and go – or is hard to move around when you touch it, is more concerning.

Some breast cancer (inflammatory breast cancer) looks like a swelling with skin changes, not necessarily a painless lump. In those cases, a swollen, reddish or purplish breast with skin dimpling or nipple changes may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.

3. Myth #3: My mammogram showed an abnormality, so I must have breast cancer.

Actually, radiologists use the word “abnormality” in a very general sense. It could mean that the image doesn’t show the entire breast, that there is a shadow on the film, or that there could be a cyst present. Of course you should follow up immediately on any “abnormal” mammogram – but don’t worry too much about the result until you have follow up tests to confirm what the “abnormality” is.

4. Myth #4: I won’t get breast cancer.

This is the most common myth. I actually created a mini-documentary, thanks to a grant from Johnson & Johnson, about the life of Hester Schnipper. She is a breast cancer social worker, and devoted her life to counseling women with breast cancer. Her husband is a breast cancer oncologist. Imagine her surprise when she herself got breast cancer – twice. It’s an amazing story of two breast cancer experts living through the realities of being a patient. I’d encourage everyone to watch the video on the J&J YouTube Health Channel.

Here are the three parts of the documentary:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqwDrvwO82U

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6rCJmjpTyo


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »