MYTH: CANCER IS CONTAGIOUS.
No cancer is contagious. However, some cancers are caused by viruses that can spread from person to person. The Human Papillomavirus (hpv) is sexually transmitted disease that increases risk of developing cervical, anal and some types of head and neck cancers. Other viruses like hepatitis B and hepatitis C, which are transmitted by infected intravenous needles and sexual activity, increase risk of developing liver cancer.There is a lot of information about cancer, but some of it is misleading or inaccurate. You will find the truth behind some of the most common cancers myths and misconceptions.
Please talk to your oncology team to verify the accuracy of anything you hear or read.
MYTH: IF YOU HAVE FAMILY HISTORY OF CANCER YOU WILL GET IT TOO; THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.
Although having family history of cancer increases your risk of developing cancer, it is not a definite prediction. Estimated 4 out of 10 cancers can be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes, such as avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol intake, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and nutritious diet. Doctors may recommend some of the people who have inherited a genetic mutation undergo surgery or take medication to reduce the chance that cancer may develop.
MYTH: CANCER THRIVES ON SUGAR.
Many people with cancer wonder if they should stop eating sugar because they have heard sugar feeds cancer growth. However there is no conclusive evidence that proves eating sugar will make cancer grow and spread more quickly. All the cells in the body need sugar (glucose) to grow and function.
MYTH: CANCER TREATMENT IS USUALLY WORSE THAN THE DISEASE.
Although cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious side effects, recent advances have resulted in many drugs and radiation treatments that are much better tolerated than in the past. Symptoms like nausea and vomiting, hair loss and tissue damage are much less common these days. Managing side effects remains an important part of cancer treatment. This approach called as Palliative care or Supportive care can help a person at any stage of the illness. It has been researched, patients receiving both treatment for the cancer and treatment to ease side effects at the same time often have less severe symptoms, better quality of life and report they are more satisfied with treatment.
MYTH: IT IS EASIER TO REMAIN UNAWARE YOU HAVE CANCER.
You should not ignore symptoms or signs of cancer, such as breast lump or abnormal bleeding. Although the thought of having cancer is frightening, talking with your doctor and getting the diagnosis will give you the power to make informed decisions and best possible care. Because treatment is usually more effective during the early stages of cancer, an early diagnosis often improves a person’s chances of survival.
MYTH: POSITIVE THINKING WILL CURE CANCER
Although a positive attitude may improve a person’s quality of life during cancer treatment, there is no scientific evidence that it can cure cancer. Placing such importance on attitude may lead to unnecessary guilt and disappointment if, for reason beyond your control, your health does not improve.
MYTH: IF I’M NOT OFFERED ALL OF TESTS, PROCEDURES AND TREATMENTS AVAILABLE, I’M NOT GETTING THE BEST CANCER CARE.
Not every test, treatment or procedure is right for every person. You and your oncologist should discuss which ones will increase your chance of recovery and help you maintain the best quality of life and which ones could increase your risk of side effects and lead to unnecessary costs. If you decide after this discussion that you need more information before making treatment decisions, it may be helpful to seek a second opinion.