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May 20, 2011 > Get Your Facts Straight about Breast Cancer

Get Your Facts Straight about Breast Cancer

Free lunchtime forum will clear up common misconceptions

True or false? Breast cancer is the number one killer of American women. The answer is surprisingly false.

"Many people think more women die of breast cancer than from any other cause," says Mimi Lin, MD, a radiologist at Washington Hospital. Dr. Lin reviews and evaluates mammograms as part of Washington Hospital's state-of-the-art digital mammography service.

"One reason for this misconception is that there is so much publicity out there about the disease," she continues. "In fact, more women die of lung cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women. By far, the most common killer of all is still heart disease, for both men and women."

According to the American Cancer Society, about 40,000 women died of breast cancer in the U.S. during 2010. In 2007, the latest year of available statistics, more than 300,000 women died of heart disease.

Here's another question: True or false? If you have a lump in your breast, you have breast cancer. The answer is false again.

"Breast lumps are relatively common, and most are not cancerous or life-threatening," explains Dr. Lin. "The two major types of non-cancerous lumps are fibrocystic change-which can cause cysts, lumpy areas and thickening-and benign breast tumors."

If you have a benign breast tumor, it is still important that your doctor know about it. The American Cancer Society states, ". . . some benign breast conditions, such as papillomas and atypical hyperplasia, are important to know about because women with these conditions have a higher risk of developing breast cancer."

For more information on what's true and what's not true about breast cancer, come to a free seminar on Wednesday, June 1, from Noon to 1 p.m. at the Washington Women's Center. A discussion with Dr. Lin, "Misconceptions about Breast Cancer" will be held in the Women's Center Conference Room, located in the Washington West (2500 Mowry Ave) in Fremont. The program is part of Washington Women's Center's "Lunch 'n Learn" series that invites women to bring their lunch to a one-hour session on women's health. To reserve your space, register online at or call (800) 963-7070.

"During the program, I will go over general facts about breast cancer and try to dispel some of the common myths. We will focus primarily on breast cancer diagnosis," says Dr. Lin. "And, we'll leave time for questions from the audience, so we can do our best to answer them all."

As part of her presentation, Dr. Lin will answer questions like: Is breast cancer a woman's disease or can men also get it? Is cancer contagious? Can antiperspirants or underwire bras cause breast cancer? Do mammograms prevent breast cancer or cause it?

"We'll also talk about whether breast cancer can be inherited, if young people or older people are at greater risk, and whether Asian women get breast cancer," adds Dr. Lin. "These are all topics you may be concerned with because many people believe them to be true. Most myths have some basis in fact, so we want to talk about where they came from, and what's true and what's not."

The "Lunch 'n Learn" forums at Washington Women's Center are a chance for women to gain important health-related information in a casual, relaxed setting. Attendees will feel comfortable asking questions.

"Whether you're young, old or in your middle years, this is information that will benefit you, a family member or close friend," Dr. Lin continues.

The Breast Health program at Washington Women's Center is a nationally accredited program that gives women the diagnostic, educational and treatment services they need to maintain breast health throughout their life. The program includes free breast self-examination instruction and a nurse coordinator who helps make sure patients get support and counseling throughout diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The program offers women seamless access to hospital-based services and a team approach to patient-centered care. Other services include a Breast Tumor Board, a Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Series, Reach to Recovery volunteers, a Breast Cancer Support Group and Breast Care Conferences.

Washington Hospital's Digital Mammography Services offer a wide range of advanced diagnostic services in a comfortable setting. Read by board certified radiologists like Dr. Lin, diagnostic images are clearer than ever due to the Hospital's state-of-the-art digital mammography system.

In contrast with standard mammography, digital mammography can be manipulated to enhance image quality so a radiologist can make the best possible assessment. The doctor can zoom in, magnify and optimize different parts of the breast tissue which might decrease the need for additional images. With digital technology, mammograms are completed more quickly.

To find out more about this and other classes or programs offered by Washington Women's Center, call (866) 608-1301 or visit

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