Considered to be the most common cancers in women globally, breast cancer is a serious health issue that can happen to almost anyone. We may be more educated about the condition now but there are still breast cancer myths that can mislead and scare us unnecessarily. Here, the team at UEX debunk some of these myths, plus tell us how screening and treatment can be covered by health insurance.
Breast cancer myths
#1 Wearing a bra increases my chance of breast cancer.
There’s no scientific evidence that shows that wearing any kind of bra causes breast cancer. Breast cancer usually arises due to numerous factors such as pre-existing conditions and lifestyle.
#2 Staying fit and eating ‘clean’ will make me unlikely to have breast cancer.
While keeping in shape lowers your risk of cancer, boosting your immune system is not a guaranteed way of preventing it. Even the fittest of us can get breast cancer! There’s no foolproof method of preventing breast cancer, which makes regular checkups and self-awareness even more important.
#3 Only women can get breast cancer.
One of the most common breast cancer myths is that only women can have it. Men also have breast tissue (their chests or “pecs”!), so they’re susceptible to the illness as well. The signs and symptoms of breast cancer in men and women are similar.
#4 Radiation from mammograms can cause breast cancer.
While you’ll inevitably be exposed to a certain level of radiation during a mammogram, it is within a low and non-harmful range. Mammograms are basically x-rays of the breast, so some exposure to radiation is unavoidable.
It’s key to note that the benefits of going for a mammogram far outweigh the risks of remaining unchecked. According to the American Cancer Society, the amount of radiation that one is exposed to during a mammogram is the same as taking a flight from California to New York.
#5 If the lump in my breast is painless, it cannot be cancerous.
One of the breast cancer myths that many tell is that a painless lump is usually not cancerous. During its early stages, the lump that breast cancer produces is actually often unnoticeable and less painful. So if you feel a lump in your breast, it’s extremely important to have it checked out.
#6 A mastectomy (removal of the whole breast) is the only way to treat breast cancer.
There are various ways to treat breast cancer, not just a mastectomy. Depending on the individual and severity of cancer, doctors will recommend different breast cancer treatments.
Besides a mastectomy, other options include immunotherapy (which boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer through natural substances), hormonal therapy (adding or removing hormones from the body) and lumpectomy (removing a portion of the breast).
#7 Nobody in my family has it, so I won’t get it either.
Only 5 to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary. The other 90% is largely due to lifestyle and environmental factors.
Genetic testing can help you understand your inherited risk and allow you to make choices about your future care. Those at high risk can choose to have a prophylactic mastectomy to decrease their chances of getting cancer.
#8 Everyone diagnosed with breast cancer will require chemotherapy.
Treatment depends on the constituency and stage of cancer. Chemotherapy essentially uses drugs to kill tumour cells but it may not be suitable for everyone.
#9 Pregnant women cannot get breast cancer.
Despite the myth, breast cancer is sadly the most common cancer in pregnant and postpartum women. It’s difficult to detect existing or new lumps as breasts are enlarged and more tender after childbirth.
#10 Breast cancer always forms a lump.
Another perception among breast cancer myths is that a lump is the only way to tell if you could have breast cancer. Red flags include inward-turned nipples, dimples in the skin, discharge, tenderness, itchy, scaly and swollen skin on the breast and changes in breast size or shape.
As breast cancer can be curable when treated at an early stage, spotting symptoms early is important. You should do a monthly breast self-examination and go for regular ultrasounds or mammograms (from 40 years and above).
Covering breast cancer screening and treatment with UEX
UEX offers flexible health insurance plans that cover preventive health check-ups and treatments for breast cancer.
Prevention is at the core of UEX’s outpatient benefits. They strongly believe that early detection is the best way to avoid major illnesses.
- Hospitalisation-only plan: Mammography and pap smears are covered for up to $300 (All levels).
- Hospitalisation and outpatient plan: Mammography and pap smear coverage is $300, $500 and full coverage for Level 1, 2 and 3 respectively. You’ll be covered up to $1000 (Level 2) and $2500 (Level 3) for other preventive tests and vaccinations.
UEX’s international health insurance plans fully cover treatment costs under “Hospital and Surgery”. These include specialist consultations, diagnostic scans and tests, medicine and drugs, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
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