Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


9 breast cancer myths you should know

29 October 2015, 11:14Professor Justus Apffelstaedt

Are mammograms really painful? Do smokers actually run a higher risk of developing breast cancer? 

Professor Justus Apffelstaedt, Associate Professor at the University of Stellenbosch and Head of the Tygerberg Hospital Breast Clinic in South Africa, helps to set the record straight. 
Myth 1
The incidence of breast cancer in younger women is increasing.


Breast cancers in younger women who are of celebrity status is resulting in increased media coverage of their cases, but typically, breast cancers develop in women between the ages of 50 and 70.
The contribution of chemotherapy to reducing mortality is significant.


A multidisciplinary approach that combines a number of treatment options that include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal and biologic agents is most effective. Specialist centres, which see more than 150 cases of breast cancer per year will achieve the best results as here the most accurate diagnosis will be made and the most appropriate treatment options chosen.
Myth 3
Smoking increases your risk of breast cancer.


Breast cancer is one of the few cancers where risk is not increased due to smoking.
Myth 4
A mammogram is a mammogram.


The accuracy of mammographic diagnosis in screening, which forms the bulk of all mammography performed in South Africa , is dependent on:

1. Optimal equipment used to produce the mammogram – these days full-field digital mammographic equipment is regarded as state of the art.
2. The optimal image as produced by a radiographer specialised in mammography.
3. The optimal reading of the image is usually provided by doctors who specialise in breast imaging and who have possibly received overseas training in mammography interpretation.
4. A process of rigorous quality control, where all outcomes are recorded and regularly analysed.

Only where all of these conditions are met, will the promise of lowering the mortality rates from breast cancer and the increase in breast conservation be realised.
Myth 5
It doesn’t make a difference where you are treated. 


A very important, but often overlooked factor is where a patient is treated. It has been shown that dependent on where the woman is treated for breast cancer, the risk of death within 5 years can be up to 60% higher in environments where only few breast cancers are treated versus environments where more than 150 breast cancers are treated per year. This effect is larger than any chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and radiation.
Myth 6
Removing the entire breast is better than breast conservation.


Breast cancer metastasizes to places outside of the breast. The tumour in the breast will not kill you – the spread of the cancer to the brain, lungs etc. will. As breast cancer often does that early in the course of the disease, a mastectomy will not guarantee you better survival than breast conserving therapy.

Should a radical mastectomy be necessary, breast reconstruction can take place during the same session that the mastectomy is performed. A multidisciplinary treatment approach involves: The oncologic surgeon, a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist and a plastic surgeon to optimally time and sequence the individual treatments.

In a well-run multidisciplinary breast clinic, out of 100 women with breast cancer, 60 will have breast conserving therapy, 35 will have a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and only 5 will leave the theatre with neither their own breast nor a reconstructed breast.
Myth 7
My breast cancer wasn’t detected by mammography.


High quality mammography will detect about 95% of all breast cancers. Breast cancers that do not image are rare if the above criteria of a breast imaging centre are met.
Myth 8
Mammograms are painful.


If the breasts are painful, a mammogram should not be done until the reason for the tenderness has been addressed. Well trained mammographers should be able to assist you in relaxing. When you are relaxed, the pectoral muscles behind the breast relax, which should result in a painless mammogram.
Myth 9
If you have breast augmentation, breast cancer is harder to detect and you are more at risk.


Breast augmentation does not constitute an increase in glandular tissue, therefore you are not more at risk. It is necessary that an experienced mammographer takes your mammogram as special techniques are needed to demonstrate all breast tissue.

- Woman24


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...