Information about breast health is widely promoted in healthcare settings; the goal is to increase breast health awareness. While it is a common concern for many people, information can be confusing.
Here are some misconceptions we clarify:
- Having any lump doesn’t mean breast cancer. Don’t panic if you find any lump in your breasts, having lumps doesn’t mean you have cancer! It can be a non-cancerous breast condition such as cysts (fluid-filled sacs). However, any persistent lump in your breasts should not be ignored. Make sure you talk to your doctor about your case.
- Premenstrual breast swelling, tenderness, and lumpiness. You may feel swelling, tenderness, or lumpiness in your breasts around 10 days prior to your period. These are common symptoms that are caused by normal hormonal changes of your menstrual cycles; however, it shouldn’t be persistent. Knowing your own menstrual cycles can help you predict these temporary changes in your breasts. Warm compresses and Tylenol also can help relieve these discomforts. However, in most cases, breast cancer doesn’t cause pain.
- Having a family history of breast cancer does not mean you will develop breast cancer. Having a family history of breast cancer is one of many risk factors. In fact, most patients with breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer. Understanding your risks of breast cancer allows you to take preventative actions. (Learn more about risk factors for breast cancer.)
- The breast self-exam is no longer recommended. However, it is replaced by breast self-awareness since no one else is more familiar with your own body! You should know how your breasts normally look and feel, make sure to report any changes to your healthcare provider.
If you are not sure about any changes in your breasts, it is important that you communicate with your healthcare provider. Depending on your case, your doctor can get you the right screenings and advice to find out if you are at risk of any breast conditions.
The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center offers comprehensive, high-quality primary care services at convenient locations in Manhattan and Queens. The Health Center is open seven days a week and serves all patients regardless of their ability to pay. To learn more about the Health Center’s family planning services, please call (212) 966-0228 (Manhattan), (718) 886-1287 (37th Avenue, Queens) and (929) 362-3006 (45th Avenue, Queens), or by visiting out OB/GYN webpage.