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Myths about Breast Cancer - Oncology

From deodorant to bras, even cell phones, when it comes to breast cancer doctors say these are some of the most common items patients ask about. “As far as I know there is no documented evidence that any of these factors increase the risk of breast cancer,” said Dr. Lea Blackwell, a breast surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Health. But there are things that can put patients at risk for breast cancer. “The risk factors for breast cancer are typically hormonal, so the first main risk factor for breast cancer is a woman. So if you are a woman you have an about a 12 percent lifetime risk of having breast cancer,” said Dr. Blackwell. But men are also at risk for developing breast cancer. “One percent of the population of breast cancer patients is men. Typically a male presents with nipple discharge, and usually they will have a mass behind the nipple,” she said. Many patients also assume that if they have breast cancer, a mastectomy will prevent cancer from coming back—but doctors say that too is a myth—the cancer can come back in the armpit or near the incision. “A lot of people assume that if you remove the breast, the breast cancer can’t come back but it can come back even if you’ve had a mastectomy,” said Dr. Blackwell. To lower your risk of breast cancer, doctors encourage women to get yearly mammograms starting at age 40. “I think there’s a lot of hesitation about people getting mammograms because they are worried about the radiation and the cumulative radiation risk of getting breast cancer, but you get about the same amount of radiation from an airplane flight as you get from a mammogram,” she said. Maintaining a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and having regular mammograms after the age of 40 can all lower your risk for breast cancer. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care. Visit