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WI Breast Cancer Experts Looking to Do Some “Myth-Busting”

October 16, 2007

Milwaukee, WI – With Halloween just around the corner, Wisconsin breast cancer experts are trying to put some "spooky" myths about the disease to rest. October is "Breast Cancer Awareness Month," but there's a lot of misinformation circulating about the disease. In part, it's because of the lightning speed of the Internet, both in communication -- and miscommunication -- of healthcare information.

Dr. Judy Tjoe is the Medical Director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Program at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee. First, she debunks the idea that a breast cancer diagnosis is always fatal news.

"Unlike many of the other types of cancers we hear about, breast cancer has a 98 percent survival rate when we catch it early and treat it early."

Tjoe says, while extensive research is being conducted on potential causes of breast cancer, women can wear underwire bras and use antiperspirants safely. The persistent rumors that either type of product can cause the disease are just two of many with no scientific basis in fact.

Another myth she hears often is that a woman only has to worry about breast cancer if someone in her family has had it.

"In fact, 80 percent of breast cancers diagnosed in women have no association with hereditary cancer syndrome. So just because you don't have a mom or sister diagnosed with breast cancer doesn't mean that you are free and clear."

And here's a critical misconception: that mammograms are unaffordable for women who don't have health insurance coverage. Dr. Tjoe explains that free and/or low-cost screening is available through the "Wisconsin Well Woman" program, which also includes cervical cancer screening.

Rob Ferrett/John Robinson, Public News Service - WI