Last updated: Jul 30, 2008
needle-biopsy-illustration
(BELIEFNET.COM)
16. Myth: Needle biopsies can disturb cancer cells and cause them to spread to other parts of the body.


Reality: There's no conclusive evidence for this claim. Despite some previous concerns, a 2004 study found no increased spread of cancer among patients undergoing needle biopsies compared to those who did not have the procedure.

17. Myth: After heart disease, breast cancer is the nation's leading killer of women.

Reality: Breast cancer kills roughly 40,000 women a year in the United States but stroke (96,000 deaths), lung cancer (71,000), and chronic lower respiratory disease (67,000) are each responsible for more deaths annually.

18. Myth: If your mammography report is negative, there is nothing else to worry about.

Reality: Despite their importance for breast cancer screening and diagnosis, mammograms fail to detect around 10% to 20% of breast cancers. This is why clinical breast exams and, to some extent, breast self-exams are crucial pieces of the screening process.

woman-straight-hair
Getty Images
19. Myth: Hair straighteners cause breast cancer in African-American women.

Reality: A large 2007 study funded by the National Cancer Institute found no increase in breast cancer risk due to the use of hair straighteners or relaxers. Study participants included African-American women who had used straighteners seven or more times a year for 20 years or longer.

20. Myth: Removing the entire breast gives you a better chance of surviving cancer than having a lumpectomy with radiation therapy.

Reality: Survival rates are about the same for women who have mastectomies and for women who choose the breast-conserving option of removing only part of the breast and following the surgery with radiation treatments. However, there are some cases—such as with extensive DCIS disease, the presence of BRCA gene mutations, or particularly large tumors—when lumpectomy and radiation may not be an appropriate treatment option.

Read Myths 21–25