World Cancer Day: Busting Common Myths About Cancer and Its Treatment

3 min read
World Cancer Day: Busting Common Myths About Cancer and Its Treatment
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A little knowledge is a dangerous thing - especially if it's about a disease, its prevention or treatment.

Cancer is one such disease that comes with its share of misconceptions, whether they're about its cause, spread, diagnosis, or treatment.

The wrong information can lead to stress and anxiety, and in worse cases, the wrong measures for treatment and prevention.

According to the American Cancer Society, 90% of people diagnosed with cancer can now live for 5 years or longer - in instances of throat, breast and prostate cancer, while the survival rate has risen to 67% overall for all types of cancer.

The idea that a cancer diagnosis is a death sentence is one of the more common myths about cancer that makes people lose hope.

On 4 February, World Cancer Day, we're busting this and other common myths about cancer and its treatment.

Sugar Can Cause Cancer 

No links have been established between an increased sugar intake and a higher cancer risk. Additionally, sugar doesn't affect or hinder cancer treatment. Similarly, reducing sugar intake hasn't proved to have any effect on cancer either.

Though, as the American Cancer Society suggests, higher consumption of sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can increase the risk of cancer. This is attributed to chronic inflammation which can damage your DNA.

Artificial Sweeteners Can Cause Cancer 

According to the National Cancer Institute, the myth that sweeteners increase the risk of cancer came out of early studies that showed an increase in bladder cancer rates in laboratory animals.

However, subsequent tests showed no clear link between artificial sweeteners and cancer in humans.

Cancer is Contagious

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is not contagious, and in no way can a cancer patient spread it to others.

There is evidence that shows HPV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can cause cervical cancer or liver cancer. However, cancer itself is not contagious or infectious. It isn't communicable through contact.

A Biopsy Might Lead to Spread of Cancer 

A biopsy cannot cause cancer to spread or get worse. This is a myth that many patients and even some doctors believed. But a study of over 2,000 patients conducted by doctors at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center dispels the myth that a biopsy can cause cancer to spread or worsen.

Survival rates of patients diagnosed through other methods and through a biopsy don't have much of a difference and a biopsy helps doctors diagnose the patient's condition more accurately and aids in deciding on a treatment procedure.


Cancer is Hereditary

According to PubMed Central, 3 to 10 percent of people afflicted with cancer inherit the genes for increased cancer risk from their parents and are likely to suffer from the same kind of cancer. This is referred to as 'familial cancer'.

With that said, most cases of cancer, about 90 to 95 percent, are a result of cells that are in the body since birth and mutate or change over time. They may also be caused by smoke, radiation and other environmental factors.

There Is No Cure for Cancer

The answer to this, is a little more complex. While there is no cure for cancer there are several treatments like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, palliative care and surgery that can help treat and improve a patient's chances of survival.

In many cases, people diagnosed with cancer are successfully treated and go on to live long lives, eventually only dying to other causes.

Cancer research has progressed remarkably and these efforts have led to new methods and treatments for cancer every year.

Herbs Can Help Cure Cancer 

There is no evidence that proves that any herbs can cure or help in cancer treatment. Claims that herbs can help treat cancer are unfounded.

Alternative remedies like acupuncture, meditation and yoga can, however, be effective in caring for a patient's mental health and psychological well-being and support management of the treatments' side effects.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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