MANILA, Philippines — Breast cancer is the number one cancer in the Philippines in terms of prevalence and is the third leading cause of cancer deaths.1 In fact, a global survey reported that among 15 Asian countries, the Philippines has the highest breast cancer mortality rate.2 This may be attributed to the fact that almost half of the patients are diagnosed in the locally advanced or metastatic stages.3

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the main thrust of the medical community is to increase people’s awareness of the disease. With the advent of technology, any person can access various data about breast cancer on the internet. But unless you or your family has experienced breast cancer and has been able to consult an oncologist, it may be difficult to separate fact from fiction.

Here we discuss the 5 most common breast cancer myths encountered in the clinics:

MYTH 1: Young women don’t get breast cancer

While it is true that age is one of the most important risk factors for breast cancer, it can occur in younger women. In fact, we are seeing more and more patients in their 20s or 30s being diagnosed with breast cancer and these are usually of the more aggressive type.4-5 Thus, younger women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and should consult a doctor if they notice any changes.

MYTH 2: I won’t get breast cancer because it doesn’t run in my family

Only 5-10% of breast cancer diagnoses are thought to be hereditary, which means that it is caused by abnormal mutations in some genes passed on from parents.6 Majority of patients with breast cancer have no family history, suggesting that other factors like lifestyle and environment are involved.

Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcoholic drinks and smoking may lower your risk of developing breast cancer.7-8 For those with a strong family history of breast cancer, feel free to consult an oncologist to discuss the different preventive options available.

MYTH 3: Trauma or getting hit in the breast causes cancer

Trauma to the breast may cause some bruising or swelling which can make it painful to the touch, however, there is no evidence that this leads to cancer.9

Sometimes, the injury can lead to a benign lump known as “fat necrosis” which is like a scar tissue that can form as part of the body’s natural healing process. Also, an injury to the breast may draw a person’s attention to that area, making it easier for a mass or tumor to be noticed but that has actually been present for some time already.

MYTH 4: Wait until the end of a pregnancy before having a lump checked since it might just be pregnancy hormones in effect

Breast cancer is actually the most common cancer in pregnant and postpartum women.10

It is harder to find a lump in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding since their breasts are naturally tender and enlarged. Thus, it is highly advised to consult a doctor when changes are noticed, or if a breast mass is palpated so that a clinical breast exam can be done, and ancillary tests are performed when needed.

MYTH 5: Breast cancer only happens in women

Although the incidence of breast cancer is significantly higher in women, men can be affected since they also have breast tissue.11

Furthermore, some studies show that mortality rates are higher in men because of delays in seeking treatment.12 Thus, men are also advised to consult a doctor when a hard lump is palpated or any other change in the surrounding area of the nipple and areola is noted.

The most important instrument in dealing with breast cancer is awareness. Knowing the common myths and discerning the truth about them has the potential to save lives. Make time to consult your doctor for regular health screenings and for any unexpected changes in your breasts. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better are the outcomes.

Remember that in today’s era of modern therapeutics, breast cancer is just a diagnosis and not a life sentence. There is always hope!

Pfizer Philippines joins the country in observing Breast cancer Awareness Month in October. 

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Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with their responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, they collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world.

For more than 150 years, they have worked to make a difference for all who rely on them. They routinely post information that may be important to investors on their website. 


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1 GLOBOCAN. 2018. Available at: Accessed October 4, 2020

2 Pfizer. The burden of cancer in Asia; 2008. Available at: Accessed October 4, 2020

3 Ngelangel CA, Wang EH. Cancer and the Philippine cancer control program. Jpn J Clin Oncol 2002; 32 (Suppl) S52-S61

4 Carey K. Anders et al., “Breast Carcinomas Arising at a Young Age: Unique Biology or a Surrogate for Aggressive Intrinsic Subtypes?,” Journal of Clinical Oncology 29, no. 1 (2011): e18-e20.

5 Carey K. Anders et al., “Young Age at Diagnosis Correlates With Worse Prognosis and Defines a Subset of Breast Cancers With Shared Patterns of Gene Expression,” Journal of Clinical Oncology 26, no. 10 (2008): 3324-3330.

6 American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2019-2020. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2019.

7 World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007.

8 Moore SC, Lee IM, Weiderpass E, et al. Association of leisure-time physical activity with risk of 26 types of cancer in 1.44 million adults. JAMA Internal Medicin.e 2016; 176(6):816-825.

9 Cancer Research UK. Can an injury or blow to the breast cause cancer?

10 Cancer During Pregnancy.

11 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast Cancer in Men.

12 Co, M., Lee, A., & Kwong, A. (2020). Delayed presentation, diagnosis, and psychosocial aspects of male breast cancer. Cancer medicine, 9(10), 3305–3309.

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