Debunking misconceptions about cancer

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are a lot of misconceptions what could be contributing factors to cancer. Dr. Dennis Citrin helped debunk some of the misconceptions.

Question #1: Eating soy can minimize one's chances of getting breast cancer - fact or fiction?

This is fiction. Soy does not have any impact one way or the other. Some say it increases the risk of breast cancer because of the estrogen, but this is not true. However, when consumed, it should be natural (not processed) soy, and soy supplements are not recommended. Just make sure your overall diet is balanced and nutritious, whether or not it includes soy.

Question #2: Breast size does not impact your susceptibility to the disease - fact or fiction?

The answer is fact. Women with breasts of any size can be diagnosed with breast cancer. Obesity however can play a role in breast cancer risk, so women with larger breasts due to obesity may be at a slightly higher risk of developing the disease.

Question #3: Women only need to see a surgeon when being diagnosed with breast cancer - fact or fiction?

This is fiction. Historically, surgery was the first step for women diagnosed with breast cancer. We have moved into a new paradigm of breast cancer treatment in which every woman should meet with a surgeon and a medical oncologist prior to beginning any treatment. Surgery and drug treatment will still be the major treatment options, but the sequencing will depend upon the specific details of the woman's individual cancer type.

Question #4: There are other physical signs of breast cancer besides the presence of a lump - fact or fiction?

This is fact. Other signs and symptoms for breast cancer may include:
  • Skin dimpling in the breast

  • A bloody nipple discharge

  • Or, there could be no symptoms at all, but something is found in a mammogram

Question #5: Getting a mastectomy provides a better chance of getting rid of breast cancer over a lumpectomy - face or fiction?

This is fiction. Surgery is an integral part of breast cancer treatment. Limited surgery, such as the lumpectomy, has been proven to be as effective as mastectomy in most cases. In general, the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not require a mastectomy. Long term studies have shown little or no survival benefit to a double mastectomy when the remaining healthy breast is removed- the cure rate is exactly the same. In fact, unnecessary mastectomy poses a greater risk to women's long-term health. Yet, many women consider this option for fear of the cancer developing in the second breast. They believe by removing the other breast, they will never have to deal with cancer again. Breast cancer in the second breast is typically not a recurrence of the original cancer.

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