March 25

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Fact or Fiction? The Truth Behind the 6 Most Common Cancer Myths


Cancer is a death sentence. Cancer is contagious. Cancer always comes back.

These are just a few things people think are true about cancer.

But believe it or not, all the statements above are inaccurate. Far from it, in fact, these are just a few examples of the most common myths and misconceptions about the disease.

Facilities that provide cancer care in Dubai consider awareness as crucial in terms of preventing and treating the disease. This way, people are properly informed and can make smart decisions regarding this life-changing condition.

Read the following six most common cancer myths known today and the truth behind each one of them.

Myth #1: Cancer Always Leads to Death.

This is probably the most well-known cancer myth that even those who know better still tend to believe today. This isn’t surprising, considering that cancer remains the leading cause of death worldwide – even in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak.

Of course, you must remember that cancer is not always a death sentence. Some people get cured of this dreaded disease and live a full life.

The Truth

Many forms of cancer can be treated, especially with early detection.

Even if the term “cured” doesn’t have the same meaning for different cancers, early detection is usually the common denominator for all success stories.

Doctors are extra careful when making cancer diagnoses because those dictate the appropriate treatment. However, they also prioritize early detection since it increases the patient’s survival rate, not to mention lowers morbidity and the cost of treatments.

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    Early detection has two vital components:

    • Early diagnosis means confirming cancer in symptomatic patients in the earliest stages of the disease. An oncologist or specialist in a particular field of medicine is the one who makes the early diagnosis based on symptoms and test results.
    • Screening is performed on individuals to look for any data that may suggest the possibility of pre-cancer or cancerous conditions before any symptoms appear. Specialists in hospitals or family clinics in Dubai do a pre-cancer screening, usually after minor health complaints. However, an individual can also voluntarily undergo these tests to catch anything potentially leading to cancer.

    Myth #2: You Can Catch Cancer.

    Some people also believe that cancer is contagious. This is false.

    Though some forms can be hereditary or passed on through various channels, cancer is not something you can catch, like a common cold.

    The Truth

    Cancer doesn’t easily spread from one person to another. The only way one cancer-free person acquires the disease is by receiving a tissue or organ transplant from someone who has a history of cancer.

    Of course, the likelihood of this ailment spreading through a transplant is minimal, especially since medical institutions are very thorough in donor screening.

    An organ or tissue recipient can have an increased risk of transplant-related cancer, but the rate is still extremely low (about two in 100,000 organ transplant cases).

    Note that some contagious infections caused by certain pathogens can also lead to cancer. Examples include the human papillomavirus (HPV) and the Helicobacter pylori bacteria.

    Hepatitis B and C, which can be transmitted via intravenous needles and sexual intercourse, can also lead to liver cancer.

    Myth #3: Using Phones Increases Your Risk of Cancer.

    You may have been warned once or twice in the past about using your phone too much. Some say it can harm your eyes, but others make it sound like a dooming situation, noting its supposed relation to increased cancer risk.

    But there’s still no evidence to prove this.

    One possible reason why this misconception spread could be the fact that these gadgets emit radiofrequency radiation. Also called “radio waves,” the non-ionizing radiation from mobile devices can be absorbed into the human body.

    The Truth

    Scientists know for a fact that ionizing radiation (e.g., those emitted by x-rays) increases the risk of cancer.

    However, according to the National Cancer Institute, there is still no proof that irrefutably links the radiation from cell phones to cancer.

    Myth #4: Eating Sugar Makes Cancer Worse.

    Some individuals cut back on their sugar consumption, thinking that the cancer cells will starve to death if they don’t get enough sugar. Unfortunately, this is a myth.

    The misconception about the relationship between sugar and cancer might have been partly because of the glucose radioactive tracers in positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

    All kinds of tissues in the body absorb this tracer, but those that use up more energy, like cancer cells, use more significant amounts.

    The Truth

    The connection between sugar and cancer requires more research, though it is a known fact that all cells – cancer cells included – need blood sugar (or glucose) for energy.

    Despite this, cancer cells getting more sugar don’t necessarily make them grow faster. Likewise, depriving them of this energy source doesn’t hinder their growth.

    Certain cancers, like oesophageal cancer, do have a higher chance of occurring when you eat too many sugary foods. Some conditions that arise due to a sugary diet, like diabetes or obesity, also increase the risk of cancer.

    Of course, having cancer shouldn’t hinder you from enjoying those little sweet treats. Just remember to maintain a moderate sugar intake.

    Myth #5: Chemotherapy Always Has Adverse Effects.

    Perhaps this was true in the past, but not anymore.

    When it was first introduced, chemotherapy had plenty of adverse effects. But through the years, advancements in this cancer treatment paved the way for significantly reduced risks of side effects.

    Some patients also fear that the treatment will be painful. Doctors say it won’t be.

    Even if some side effects may appear, the oral treatment or infusion process of chemotherapy itself does not come with any pain.

    The Truth

    Every individual reacts differently to chemotherapy. While some people experience adverse effects ranging from mild to debilitating, others may not have any.

    More importantly, any side effects from the treatment are temporary. After all the cycles are done, these will gradually disappear.

    Myth #6: Cancer Always Comes Back.

    Although some people experience relapse, many cancer patients have been cured of the illness for good. This is especially true now that cancer treatments continue to improve to the point of eradicating cancer cells completely.

    However, note that there is more to this than a simple question of true or false.

    The Truth

    Cancer comes in many forms, each with markedly different symptoms and treatment and relapse rates. In fact, even the period when the cancer returns vary significantly from one type to the next.

    This is why it’s very difficult to know whether a patient is completely “cured” of the illness or if they are still likely to experience recurrence.

    Still, the statement “cancer always comes back” is far from accurate as many already lived a full life after surviving this dreaded disease.

    Separate Fact from Myth

    Knowing how to differentiate the facts from misconceptions helps people make informed decisions about important matters about their health. Learn the truth behind the common cancer myths using this article, and live a healthy and full life.

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