Defeat Cancer. Yes, We Can!
You can find an indefinite amount of misinformation being spread on the internet when it comes to cancer. This National Cancer Awareness Day, let us debunk some of the myths about cancer and fight it by becoming more aware of the facts.
Myth 1: Cancer is another name for death sentence.
With recent advances in cancer detection and treatment, the survival rate has increased multiple folds. So, there is a fair chance of survival. In some cancers, like those of the breast, prostate and thyroid, the 5-year survival rates can be above 99%.
Myth 2: One can get cancer through contact with a cancer patient.
Cancer does not spread through contact. You cannot get cancer by having close contact, kissing, hugging or sharing meals with a cancer patient.
A person can develop cancer if he receives tissue or organ transplantation from a donor who had cancer in the past. However, this risk is extremely low as donors are screened to avoid the use of organs or tissues from those who have/had cancer.
Myth 3: Cancer is inheritable.
Cancer occurs due to changes in the genes that control how cells grow, multiply and function. That does not generally mean cancer is inherited.
Cancer, per se, cannot be passed down from one generation to the next generation; however, a faulty gene can be inherited from parents. This means the increased risk for cancer can be inherited.
If one of your parents has cancer, you may have an increased risk for cancer but it does not mean you will have cancer.
Myth 4: Cancer is just one disease.
Cancer is a group of over 100 diseases. What is common among all these diseases is that in each of these, the cells begin to grow out of control.
There are many types of cancers which involve various causes, risk factors, have distinct characteristics, target organs where they act, and different approaches have to be taken to manage it.
Myth 5: It is better to not be aware of cancer.
Early detection and diagnosis of cancer can improve the likelihood of survival drastically because generally, the treatment is most effective during early stages. Early detection is possible only if you are aware of the early signs and symptoms of the disease.
Myth 6: Cancer will return always.
Reoccurrence of cancer is very unlikely in case of early stages. There is hope that it won’t return in later stages too.
Myth 7: People with cancer do not get to carry out daily life activities.
Cancer patients continue to live their daily life activities as usual while undergoing treatment. Regular appointments at the hospital are enough for the treatment and does not involve long stays.
Myth 8: Cancer is very painful.
Early cancers are usually painless. Pain is seldom a symptom of cancer.
However, one of the commonest side effects of cancer and its treatment is pain. By employing different techniques and with medications, pain can be successfully managed.
Myth 9: Cancer treatment is not for the old.
Cancer treatment can help people of any age.
The risk of developing cancer increases with age. Elderly people are also likely to have other ailments.
Cancer surgery can often be done regardless of age. Even if the aim of the surgery is not to increase the lifespan, it can be done to improve the patient’s quality of life. Compared to the younger ones, the elderly patients who undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy are likely to have side effects more often and in greater severity. They also recover from such side effects more slowly.
Doctors often weigh the risks and benefits of cancer treatment and management strategies very carefully and make individualistic plans for each patient.
Myth 10: Hair lost during chemotherapy never grows back.
Chemotherapy, a common cancer treatment has advanced so much that its side effect like hair loss has been effectively dealt with and it is highly exceptional that hair will not regrow ever again.
Some Facts about Cancer
Ø Cancer is one of the leading causes of death which accounted for 9.6 million deaths worldwide in 2018.
Ø Cancers in stomach, breast, liver, lungs are the major types of cancer to cause death.
Ø Most number of deaths due to cancer occur in parts of Africa, Asia, Central and South America each year.
Ø External agents and inherited genetic factors are responsible for causing the rapid formation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their normal capacity i.e., cancer.
Ø Usage of tobacco attributes towards causing over 20% of global deaths by cancer.
Ø Cancer can be prevented by keeping in mind the following risks associated with behavior and diet: eating less fruits and vegetables, having high body mass index, use of tobacco, physical inactivity and consumption of alcohol.