Breast Cancer is a life altering health condition. Not only does it have an effect on physical health, but also takes its toll on mental health. Due to this, several misconceptions reside in the minds of breast cancer victims regarding its treatment. Surgery is a major topic of concern, since many myths revolve around it. Here are some of the breast cancer surgery myths that need to be debunked.
Myth: Both Breasts Need to be Treated no Matter Where the Cancer Is
Fact: A breast-conserving surgery, known as lumpectomy is a treatment where only the affected part is treated. The key is to remove the cancer fully, which means that surrounding tissue may also be removed. However, only the cancer specific area is treated, which means that the rest is not removed. Therefore, it greatly depends on the area and size of the tumor present.
Myth: Breastfeeding is Possible After all Sorts of Surgery
Fact: Depending on the type of surgery, unfortunately, some may not allow breastfeeding. This is because the milk ducts or other breast tissue may be removed due to surgery. Radiation therapy can even damage the tissue, causing the milk flow to reduce or stop in the treated breast. Furthermore, mastectomy is a process whereby the entire breast is removed. Therefore, double mastectomy may disable breastfeeding. However, if only one breast is treated, the other breast can still produce milk and a baby can be breastfed by it.
Myth: Surgery May Cause Cancer to Spread in the Open Air
Fact: Metastatic breast cancer is one where the cancer spreads from the breast to other parts of the body. However, this does not mean that it occurred as a result of surgery. Such a cancer is difficult to detect at an earlier stage, which usually means it had already been spread prior to the surgery.
Myth: Other Body Parts Have no Connection with Breast Cancer
Fact: Often times, lymph node surgery may also need to be performed. This is because the cancer is likely to spread to the arm, or part of the under arm. Therefore, there are a few different types of lymph node surgeries that aim to remove the cancer from the under arm area as well.
Myth: Mastectomy is Always the Better Option for Surgery
Fact: This is not necessarily true. Most people, especially women, believe that because lumpectomy is followed by radiation therapy, it is more risky. However, in some cases lumpectomy is more effective. This is because when the tumor is not widely spread and has not traveled beyond four centimeters in surface area, it is safe to be removed by lumpectomy. Furthermore, it is more beneficial since the other breast remains safe is the surgery does not involve complications.
Myth: Breast Cancer is Detected Straight Away
Fact: Breast cancer can be extremely difficult to detect. For this reason, a mammogram or ultrasound may be used to perform wire or needle localization. By this method, a small wire is placed in the cancerous area to act as a guide to the exact spot of the tumor. That is why when a cancer spreads, it is not because of surgery, but because it had already spread and just had not been detected.
Myth: Breast Lumps Should be Surgically Removed Since they are a Sign of Cancer
Fact: Breast lumps are often just localized swellings caused by infections or cysts. They are not always cancerous, which is why they are not always harmful. Furthermore, because they may cause discomfort or pain, it is better to get them treated. However, they do not necessarily need to be removed surgically. They can easily be treated by pain killers or medication.
Myth: A Family History of Breast Cancer Means Lumpectomy is Not the Right Choice for You
Fact: Having a family history of breast cancer does not mean that only the part of your breast cannot be treated by lumpectomy. Your cancer is your own and depends on your disease stage, cancer’s aggressiveness and size of the tumor. Therefore, lumpectomy and radiation may be carried out, proving to be extremely effective.
All in all, it is best to consult a professional surgeon and doctor for any type of surgery.