7 Little-Known Facts About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. But there are still some things you may not know about it.

Women are raised to be conscious of our breasts, for many reasons. Often, they give us the first symptoms of pregnancy, our menstrual cycles, cancer. Which is why we immediately jump to the fear when there is a lump in our breast. We know that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, and that lump could mean little else.

In knowing this, we want to share a few surprising breast cancer awareness facts you may not know.

1. Breast cancer is also known as “Nun’s Disease

Did you know that nuns are more likely to get breast cancer than other women? Due to their religious practices requiring celibacy, nuns do not have children. As a result, they experience a greater number of menstrual cycles as compared to mothers and thus face an increased risk of dying from breast, ovarian and uterine cancers. 

2. Most Women Now Survive Breast Cancer.

Thankfully, the survival rate for female breast cancer patients has gone up to a whopping 98.8% if the cancer is caught in the early stages. As approximately 62.5% of cases are caught in the early stages, most women survive. Even five years after diagnosis, the survival rate still remains high, at about 90%.

3. Staying hydrated is essential to cancer prevention and treatment.

It turns out the clichéd saying ‘Drink 8 glasses of water a day’ holds some water to it after all! Staying well-hydrated is a key part of cancer prevention as water is necessary for the healthy growth and reproduction of your body’s cells. 

During treatment, it becomes even more important to drink water as chemotherapy and other cancer medications are severely dehydrating. Hence, replenishing your body’s water stores is a key part to recovery. 

As a general guideline, you should be drinking around eight 8-oz glasses of water a day. 

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4. Men Can Get Breast Cancer Too

There is a misconception going around that as men don’t have breasts, they can’t get breast cancer. This is definitely misinformation! Men do have breast tissue and though it is rare, cancerous tumours can form in said tissue. This rarity works against their favour, as breast cancer in men is usually detected only in the later, malignant stages, which results in a higher mortality rate for male patients as compared to female patients.

5. Breast Lumps Do Not Necessary Equate to Cancer

You’ve probably heard this everywhere – a lump on your breast must mean Cancer, right? This myth isn’t helped by the vast variety of shows and films that depict, without fail, the inevitable conclusion of a character being diagnosed with breast cancer after feeling an awkward lump on her breast. 

However, 80% of the time, such lumps are caused by other causes, namely :

  • Cysts

  • Fibrocystic Breast Changes, where breast tissue feels lumpy or rope-like in texture

  • Fibroadenomas, or solid, noncancerous breast lumps

  • Infection or injury leading to swollen lymph nodes

6. Your left breast is more likely to get cancer than your right breast

Why is this so? Nobody knows. But according to multiple studies, your left breast is 5-10% more likely to get cancer than your right. This information might not seem very useful now, but it could be in the future. For example, according to an investigation into Left and Right Sided Breast Cancer by Tulinius H, Sigvaldason H, and Olafsdóttir G, it was discovered that cancer of the right breast was much more likely to be genetic than that of the left breast. This is very useful information if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer on the right side, or have a history of breast cancer running in your family. 

7. Shift work may increase the risk of breast cancer

Though most studies are inconclusive on this topic, the International Agency for Research on Cancer recently found out that women who worked 30 years or longer on night shifts were twice as likely to develop breast cancer. Though there isn’t substantial research on this topic, it is best to take preventative measures and avoid working night shifts for years on end. 

In general, critical thinking and caution are advised when following any scientific studies or purchasing any products that make assertions about curing cancer. Make sure to do the proper research and cross-referencing before deciding to follow any papers or studies. If you’re still uncertain about a topic, consult with your GP. 

And last but not least, do remember that the most effective way to prevent cancer is to live a healthy lifestyle! Ensure that you are mentally well, following a balanced diet, and generally just taking care of yourself.