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10 Cancer Myths Busted

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10 Cancer Myths Busted

Ankur Bahl
Medical Oncology, Oncology / Cancer Care
Medical Oncology, Oncology / Cancer Care
  • Myth: Cancer means Death

Fact: Cancer is not a death sentence. With advancements in cancer detection and treatment, the survival rates of patients have increased. In fact, people with cancer have survived five years or more after they are diagnosed with the disease. If the disease is detected early, it can be cured; especially lymphoma, leukaemia and testicular cancers are curable even in advanced stages.

  • Myth: Is Cancer is contagious

Fact: No. Cancer is not contagious. There are some cancers that are caused by bacteria and viruses, for instance, Human Papillomavirus (cervical cancer), Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C (liver cancer), Epstein Barr virus (lymphomas, nasopharyngeal cancers and stomach cancer) or Helicobacter pylori bacteria (stomach cancer).

  • Myth: Cancer is always painful

Fact: Cancer is not painful in the early stages. However, as it grows/spreads to the other parts of body, it may become painful. Though most of the time, pain can be reduced with medications and other pain management techniques.

  • Myth: Can Biopsy further spread cancer

Fact: Biopsy is a procedure that is used to diagnose several types of cancer, causing the cancer cells to spread. There are exceptions to which the doctors and surgeons are aware for instance, needle biopsy, which is usually not used in diagnosing testicular cancer. Instead, if testicular cancer is suspected, then the whole testicle is removed. Biopsy rather identifies the type of cancer as the treatment will be dependent on its results. However, some new tests like next generation sequencing and other tests require biopsy samples.

  • Myth: Surgery causes cancer to spread

Fact: There is no evidence to support this. You must not delay or refuse treatment even if you believe on this myth. Some people believe in this because they feel worse during recovery than they did before surgery.  It may happen that if during surgery the surgeon discovers that your cancer is advanced than earlier, you may believe that surgery caused more extensive cancer.  

  • Myth: Everyone, with the same kind of cancer, gets the same kind of treatment- Is it True?

Fact: More and more cancers are being tailored based on your genes, what treatment you receive depends on how advanced your cancer is, how much has it spread and how is it affecting your overall health. The genes that you are born with shows that your body processes chemotherapy treatments and drugs differently as compared to someone else’s body.

  • Myth: Chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer treatment is worse than getting the disease

Fact: It is true that chemotherapy and radiation therapy have their own side effects and can be undesirable at times. However, recent advancements have made chemotherapy, drugs and other treatments are tolerable. Cancer treatment is important to improve the quality of life.

  • Myth: Constant use of mobile phones can cause brain cancer

Fact: More research is required to prove this myth. There is no established relationship between use of cell phone and brain cancer. Several researches conducted by Danish Cancer Society and New England Journal Of Medicine, report no connection.

  • Myth: If you don’t have anyone in your family suffering from cancer, you have nothing to worry about

Fact: It is true that cancer is hereditary, and only 5-10% of cancers are inherited through genes. Mutation in cancer causing genes is the main reason why cancer develops during a lifetime. These changes primarily occur due to smoking, tobacco use, radiation and exposure to different chemicals.

  • Myth: Cancer Treatment is only meant to delay death

Fact: Early detection and right diagnosis/treatment can reduce the risk of cancers significantly. The treatment is provided to improve the quality of life of patients as number of cancer survivors in increasing.