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Debunking 10 Common Cancer Myths

It's essential to stay away from cancer myths. Let's debunk 10 common misconceptions surrounding this disease.

  • 04 Feb 2021
  • min read

The term "cancer" strikes fear in the minds of most people. Cancer is a life-threatening health condition in which body cells starts to mutate and multiply uncontrollably, affecting standard cell mechanisms. As a result, the vilified cells start spreading to other body parts and damage the tissues, which may prove to be fatal in certain cases.

It's crucial to spread awareness about cancer, and it is equally important to stay away from cancer myths and misconceptions. The internet is flooded with misinformation related to cancer that can stop people from getting diagnosed on time and availing proper treatment. It can also trigger panic and contribute to social stigma and taboo that usually surrounds this disease.

In this article, we've tried to present cancer myths vs facts to make you more aware of this disease. So, here are some common cancer myths debunked by us:

Cancer Myth #1: Cancer means a death sentence.

One of the most common misconceptions regarding cancer is that it may prove to be fatal. However, this is not true in most cases. With modern medicines and advanced technology, cancer can be treated if detected during the early stages. According to the estimates, about 40% of cancer patients get cured and become disease-free within 5 years.

Cancer Myth #2: Cancer is a contagious disease.

This is another prevalent cancer myth among some people. However, the fact is that cancer is not at all a communicable disease. Unlike other contagious diseases, which are caused by the spread of virus or bacteria, cancer is caused by cellular changes in the body. It means that though cancer can spread within the infected person's body, it cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

Cancer Myth #3: Cancer is hereditary.

Many people believe that if someone in a family gets diagnosed with cancer, his/her off-springs will also develop the disease. However, it's not entirely true. Although there is a possibility of cancer transfer due to genetic mutation, its chances are very narrow. In fact, only 5 to 10 per cent of cancer cases occur due to genetic mutation.

Cancer Myth #4: I won't get cancer as I have no family history of cancer.

As mentioned above, a genetic mutation can cause cancer in the off-springs, albeit very rarely. However, this does not mean that you will never get this disease if you have no family history of cancer. Cancer is caused by cellular changes in the DNA, which may be due to specific environmental and lifestyle factors such as excessive air pollution, exposure to harmful radiations, smoking, drinking etc.

Cancer Myth #5: Consuming sugar aggravates cancer.

Although studies have shown that cancer cells absorb more sugar (or glucose) than normal cells, there is no scientific evidence to prove that consuming sugar or sweet foods can aggravate cancer. Nevertheless, it's best to avoid a high sugar diet, as it can lead to obesity, increasing the risk of developing several types of cancer.

Cancer Myth #6: Surgery or biopsy may cause cancer to spread.

Many cancer patients undergo surgery to remove the cancer-causing tumour or biopsy to collect a small tissue specimen for laboratory testing. Although it's theoretically possible that surgery can cause cancer to spread in the body, the chances of this eventuating are meagre. Modern-day doctors are equipped with sufficient technology and medical procedures to prevent this from happening.

Cancer Myth #7: Negative attitude reduces the chances of recovery.

Though negativity is never a good thing, it does not reduce the chances of recovery for a cancer patient. At least, there is no scientific evidence to validate such a statement. It's normal for a person who has cancer to experience myriad negative emotions, including anger, frustration, sadness etc. However, by keeping a positive attitude, he/she can avoid stress during the treatment.

Cancer Myth #8: Cancer treatment will make you bankrupt.

Though cancer treatments are very costly, they will certainly not make you bankrupt if you plan your finances. Many NGOs and Government schemes can provide financial assistance to cancer patients and help them through difficult times.

You can also purchase a health insurance plan with a cancer cover to keep yourself financially secured. If you opt for an add-on cover, you may receive a lump sum amount, which can help tackle the astronomical treatment costs.

Cancer Myth #9: If I feel a lump in my breast, it's cancer.

If you feel a lump in your breast, it's not necessarily a tumour or cancer. The National Breast Cancer Foundation says, "Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer". However, it does not mean that you should ignore such conditions. In case you notice a lump in your breast, you should visit a doctor and get yourself checked.

Also read:

Cancer Myth #10: Chemotherapy is a painful process.

Many cancer patients believe that chemotherapy is a painful treatment procedure which might hurt them. However, as per the doctors, the actual infusion process or initial chemotherapy stages are not necessarily painful. Although you can experience some side-effects such as burning sensations, numbness, headache, and hair loss, the process does not usually cause extreme pain.

Early detection can increase the chances of survival for cancer patients. Hence, it'd prudent to go for regular medical check-ups to identify unusual changes in the body. You should also stay away from unhealthy habits linked to cancer, such as smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking excessive alcohol, etc.

ICICI Lombard's Complete Health Insurance Policy can help you and your family stay financially secured against the risks of critical illnesses, including cancer, heart attack, paralysis, and kidney failure. It will also help you avail of free health-check ups every year so that you can identify and treat illnesses in time.

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