Saturday, June 6, 2009

It’s Not a One-Size-Fits-All Disease: Breast Cancer Myths

MYTH 1:  Breast cancer is always fatal. fact: The great majority of women with breast cancer go on to live long and meaningful lives.  Ninety-three percent of the women with the most common type, hormone-positive, are disease-free at five years.  

MYTH 2:  There’s always a tumor. FACT:  two types—lobular and inflammatory—may have no lumps.  Women with lobular often have thickening of the breasts; those with inflammatory usually have red, swollen breasts, often with a pitted appearance.  

MYTH 3:  Estrogen is always the culprit. FACT: there’s a form of breast cancer that most often strikes young women, that is not fueled by estrogen.

MYTH 4:  Tamoxifen or Arimidex are for everybody.  FACT: women with estrogen-negative disease get no benefit from these drugs, which are estrogen blockers.   This is especially important, as these drugs have significant side effects, one of which is an increased risk of other cancers.

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