February 4th is World Cancer Day, when associations and individuals around the planet unite to raise awareness about cancer and work to make it a worldwide health concern. This awareness is essential as every year more than 8 million of the populace dies from cancer worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization, this year the celebration will be “Taking place with the tagline ‘We can. I can.’, World Cancer Day 2016-2018 will explore how everyone – as a group or as an individual – can do their part to lessen the global burden of cancer.”
However, efforts from such international organizations don’t prove completely successful as cancer is a forbidden and taboo topic in many homes. Victims and survivors might face discrimination and disdain from those around them. This all boils down to the fact that there has been no definitive cure for cancer that has been discovered or invented.
The fact that there is no certain cure, there has been a plethora of cancer myths, untruths and wishful thinking connected to cancer care – and they all do damage.
The following are top 5 cancer myths that are most frustrating, almost painful, that the world needs to do away with:
Cancer Myth 1: Diagnosis is equal to a death sentence
Truth: Many cancers that were once considered a death sentence can now be cured and many others can be treated effectively. Advances in understanding risk and prevention, early detection and treatment has revolutionized the management of cancer today which has lead to improved outcomes for patients.
Cancer Myth 2: It is contagious
Truth: Cancer is NOT contagious. A healthy person cannot “catch” cancer from someone who has it. There is no evidence that close contact or things like sex, kissing, touching, sharing meals, or breathing the same air can spread cancer from one person to another.
Cancer Myth 3: All chemotherapy has dreadful side-effects and is not worth the effort
Truth: It’s a known fact cancer treatment – whether chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery – is no walk in the park. The side effects can be tough. But that’s only because the treatments are designed to kill cancer cells will inevitably affect healthy cells too. But that is no excuse for not undergoing it.
Cancer Myth 4: You won’t get cancer because there is none in your family history
Truth: All cancers are genetic but only a few are hereditary. Even if you avoid all known cancer risks and have no history of cancer in your family it is still possible to get random mutations that result in cancer
Cancer Myth 5: Elders are too old to get cancer treatment
Truth: You are never too old to fight cancer. There is growing evidence that in many cases older people can both tolerate and benefit from the same treatments as younger patients with the right package of assessment, information and support.
Read up more about and debunk these cancer myths. Apart from that, here is what you can do as an individual to prevent cancer and raise awareness about it:
To prevent cancer make healthy lifestyle choices that include keeping away from tobacco, getting ample physical activity, consumption of a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, and staying safe in the sun with sunscreen. Learn about symptoms and signs of cancer and early detection guidelines because discovery of cancer early often makes it easier to treat.
Provide support to cancer patients and survivors who suffer from the physical and emotional impacts of cancer even after cure ends. Encourage them to share stories about their own cancer experiences, communicate with doctors, and join support groups to help make constructive change for all people affected by cancer.