Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases of our times. Adding to the fear are the many myths surrounding the disease, forcing us to question what is true enough to be believed and followed, and what should be ignored. As always, the best way you can clear or clarify any doubts is to consult your doctor or health care professional.
# Myth 1
Cell phones cause cancer
There are no credible research studies available that consistently prove that using a cell phone has the ability to cause cancer although the long term effects of cell phones are still not known.
# Myth 2
Hair dye causes brain cancer
There are lot of speculations about the use of hair dyes causing cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, hair dye does not increase the risk of developing cancer.
# Myth 3
Chemotherapy affects normal living
No, as advances in chemotherapy have made it comfortable for patients. Many patients continue to work either part-time or full time. Though there are some side effects that disturb the normal activities of a person, these are temporary. One only needs to make few adjustments and be more careful. Avoid pushing yourself too much, too soon.
# Myth 4
Surgery causes cancer to spread to rest of the body
Surgery removes the malignant lump and it does not cause cancer to spread to the rest of the body. At times, all the cancer cells cannot be removed through surgery as they may be too small to detect.
Therefore, surgery is followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to ensure that any remaining cancer cells are destroyed. Surgery is an important part of cancer treatment in some cases.
# Myth 5
Cancer is painful
Cancer is not always painful, but there could be painful episodes. However, most cancers in the early stages do not cause pain. Women even tend to ignore lumps because they are painless.
# Myth 6
Positive attitude can cure cancer
There is no scientific proof suggesting that a positive attitude can help treat cancer.However, a positive attitude gives you a better perspective of the disease and helps you lead a quality life. A positive outlook will help you cope with the medical condition and ensure that you are more involved in the treatment.
# Myth 7
Cancer is contagious
Cancer is not a contagious disease. However, certain viruses such as human papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B or C virus are contagious and can cause cancer if infection is not treated early.
# Myth 8
If parents have cancer, their children will definitely suffer from cancer
If any parent or first degree relative has cancer, it does not mean that the child will also suffer from cancer. Some cancers including breast, ovarian and colon cancers are hereditary; however, it does not mean that one will develop cancer. Having a genetic history of cancer only increases the likelihood of risk. Less than five per cent of all cancers are hereditary.
# Myth 9
All lumps are cancerous
All lumps are not cancerous. Once a lump is detected, it is very important to get it checked by a doctor and undergo the appropriate tests. Whether a lump is malignant or not can be confirmed only after tests.
# Myth 10
Breast Cancer is a woman’s disease
Not true. Not just women, but men can suffer from breast cancer too.
# Myth 11
Using deodorants or wearing black bras can cause cancer
According to various research studies, there is no conclusive evidence that these can cause cancer. This is one of the most popular cancer myths, especially among women.
# Myth 12
Cancer is almost always fatal
Yes, cancer can cause death, but not necessarily always. Medical advancements have helped in better treatment of the disease. For instance, if detected early and treated adequately, breast, cervical and colorectal cancers can be cured.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure… even for cancer
About 40 per cent of all cancer deaths can be prevented. Prevention is an essential factor in the global fight against cancer. Most of the preventive measures are both easy and cost-effective, but are not followed in many countries, especially in the developing nations.
Many types of cancer can be prevented if a person avoids exposure to common risk factors including:
Use of tobacco: Smoking or chewing Tobacco is responsible for the most number of cancer deaths worldwide. Apart from smoking or chewing tobacco, exposure to second-hand smoke can also be injurious to health. The various types of cancers arising due to tobacco use are lung, oral, kidney, stomach, cervical and colorectal. Stop using tobacco in all forms to minimise the risk of cancer. Awareness should also be created about its harmful effects.
Drinking alcohol: Consumption of alcohol is associated with oral cavity, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectal and breast cancers. The risk factor increases, if the person consuming alcohol is also a chain smoker.
Less of physical activity and more of obesity: Lack of physical activity is the major cause for overweight and obesity, which are associated with many cancer types including kidney, breast (among post- menopausal women) and endometrium.