Millions of people are diagnosed with cancer every year. Most of us probably know someone who has — or had — cancer. However, myths and misunderstandings about the disease persist. Can you separate fact from fiction?
CANCER IS A BLANKET TERM FOR MANY DISEASES, NOT JUST ONE
Fact. Cancer refers to cells that rapidly divide and spread. But it’s also a term used to describe more than 100 different diseases. Even cancers that begin in the same part of the body, such as breast cancer, can look drastically different from person to person. That’s why everyone’s treatment plan is unique.
YOU’RE NOT A RISK OF GETTING CANCER UNLESS YOU HAVE A FAMILY MEMBER WHO HAS HAD IT.
Fiction. You may have a higher risk of developing cancer if you have a family history of cancer. But most cancers are not due to an inherited disorder. Only about 5% to 10% of cancers are hereditary.
CELL PHONES CAUSE CANCER
Fiction. Research continues, but no studies to date have found that the radiation from a cell phone is enough to cause cancer. Cell phones give off a low-frequency energy that hasn’t been proven to damage genes.
CANCER IS CONTAGIOUS
Fiction. Some viruses that cause cancer, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) or hepatitis B or C, can be transmitted through unprotected sex or sharing needles. But cancer itself is not something you can catch from another person.
YOUR LIFESTYLE CAN HELP LOWER YOUR CANCER RISK
Fact. Things you do daily can play a role in raising or lowering your risk of getting cancer. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and contributes to other cancers. Skipping sunscreen and not limiting your sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. Being overweight or drinking heavily increases your risk of many types of cancer.
YOU ALWAYS FEEL TERRIBLE AND LOSE YOUR HAIR WHERE UNDERGOING CHEMOTHERAPY
Fiction. Just because you’re getting chemotherapy doesn’t mean you will necessarily feel terrible. Chemotherapy treatments have advanced a lot in the past few decades. Many newer medicines don’t cause severe nausea and vomiting. Other drugs can help control nausea. Hair loss also depends on the type of medicines you take.
CANCER IS FATAL
Fiction. People are living long, healthy lives with cancer — and after cancer. Survival rates have continued to increase thanks to advances in treatment.
Cancer is a scary disease for many people. But having the right facts makes it less scary. Advances in treatment and research mean we understand more than ever before about the disease. And that has led to a steady improvement in outcomes.
(Source: UPMC Health Beat https://share.upmc.com/2020/09/cancer-quiz/)