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MUSC doctor dispels common myths during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Amid Breast Cancer Awareness Month, one doctor from the Medical University of South Carolina is...
Amid Breast Cancer Awareness Month, one doctor from the Medical University of South Carolina is debunking some common misconceptions about the disease.(Live 5 News)
Published: Oct. 24, 2021 at 7:44 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2021 at 11:49 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Amid Breast Cancer Awareness Month, one doctor from the Medical University of South Carolina is debunking some common misconceptions about the disease.

One common falsehood: just because you don’t feel a lump doesn’t mean you don’t have breast cancer, Dr. Rebecca Leddy, the director of MUSC’s breast imaging division, said.

“We want to actually detect breast cancer before it gets to that lump stage, and that’s why we recommend screening mammography, which you do when you’re not having symptoms,” Dr. Leddy said. “But breast cancer can prevent with a variety of different symptoms.”

Some of those symptoms include breast swelling, color changes and size changes. Leddy said people don’t have to be over 40 to be diagnosed with the disease either.

“We’re recommending screening starting at age 40, but we do sadly see some women younger than 40 that do get breast cancer. They’re most often detected through being aware of your own body,” she said.

The biggest myth Leddy has seen has to do with family history: “Women saying I don’t have a family history of breast cancer so I don’t need to worry about it. And I would say that’s the biggest myth. (It’s) more likely we diagnose breast cancer in women that don’t have a family history.”

Leddy said there have been no studies that have linked day-to-day activities like wearing a bra or using deodorant to an increased risk of breast cancer.

“While there’s been no studies that have linked deodorant to breast cancer, there have been some studies looking at aluminum products which are still ongoing,” she said. “We have no found any studies yet that have linked cell phone usage to cancer detection. That is still being evaluated in some areas but so far there’s been nothing linking to it.”

Leddy said there are factors that can increase your risk for getting breast cancer.

Some of them can be controlled -- like weight, alcohol consumption, and activity level -- while others -- like family history, age, genetic mutations and hormonal status -- cannot.

The most important thing a person can do to protect themself, Leddy said, is to screen for cancer early.

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