The Most Common Myths and Facts About Cancer

The most common myths and facts about cancer
The most common myths and facts about cancer

Cancer is known to increase with each passing year. According to Globocan data for the year 2020, 19.3 million new cancer cases are detected annually all over the world and approximately 10 million people die of cancer.

Anadolu Medical Center Medical Oncology Specialist Assoc. Dr. Yeşim Yıldırım stated, “According to the research of IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), it is estimated that one out of every 5 people have the risk of developing cancer during their lifetime and approximately one in every 8 men and one in every 11 women die of cancer”. Assoc. Dr. Yeşim Yıldırım shared important information about the most common myths, misconceptions and facts about cancer on the occasion of 1-7 April Cancer Week.

Turkey in 2020 has been identified approximately 230 thousand new cases of the most common cancers in men are lung, prostate, colon, bladder and stomach cancer; In women, they are breast, thyroid, colon, lung and uterine cancers. Emphasizing that one third of cancer cases can be prevented with awareness and early diagnosis, the other third can be completely cured with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, Anadolu Medical Center Medical Oncology Specialist Assoc. Dr. Yeşim Yıldırım said, "Millions of lives can be saved with the necessary strategic approaches such as screening programs, raising awareness, preventive vaccination against some cancers caused by viruses, reducing environmental factors, taking various preventive measures in those with genetic risk factors, and with early diagnosis and treatment."

Medical Oncology Specialist Assoc. Dr. Yeşim Yıldırım gave important information about 11 myths and 11 facts about cancer.

False: Cancer will never be cured.

Real: When we look at cancer statistics today, the average 5-year survival rate, which includes all types of cancer, is approximately 67 percent. For some cancers, this rate may be 90 percent or more in the early stages. There are even groups of patients who are cured even in common cancer with targeted personalized treatments such as newly developed immunotherapy and smart drugs.

False: Cancer is contagious.

Real: No, cancer is not a contagious disease, only occasionally people who have had an organ transplant may develop cancer if the donor has cancer. Viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C that can cause cancer or HPV virus that causes cervical cancer can be contagious. However, cancer itself is not transmitted from person to person.

False: Having a biopsy or surgery will cause the cancer to dissolve.

Real: The possibility of cancer spreading is very low in biopsy and surgical procedures performed with developing techniques and special methods.

False: Consuming sugary foods causes cancer to worsen.

Real: No. Although studies show that cancer cells use more sugar (glucose) than normal cells, there is no study showing that eating sugary foods makes cancer worse. There are no studies to support that cancer can be stopped or reduced by cutting sugary foods completely. However, eating a diet rich in sugary foods creates a risk for the development of many cancers by causing excessive weight gain and thus obesity and fatty liver.

False: Positive or negative thoughts affect the development or recovery of cancer positively or negatively.

Real: To date, there is no study showing that personal attitudes cause cancer development, but naturally, being diagnosed with cancer can increase anxiety, sadness, anxiety and negative thoughts. These negative processes and anxieties can be reduced with sociopsychological support.

False: Cancer worsens by cooking in the kitchen, on the stove or by the oven.

Real: No, daily activities such as cooking do not lead to the spread of cancer.

False: Do cell phones cause cancer?

Real: Cell phones transmit signals using radio frequency waves, and these radio frequency waves are in the form of non-ionizing radiation. In other words, they do not have the energy to do DNA damage. They are not in the form of ionizing radiation like UV rays or X rays. In a 400-year study involving more than 20 people on this subject, no relationship was found between the development of brain cancer and mobile phone use. In the Danish Cohort study and the Interphone study, which included 13 countries, no relationship was found between mobile phone use and brain tumor development, but another study with fewer cases reported that it may be associated with salivary gland tumors. It has been suggested that it may be associated with benign noncancerous brain tumors (meningioma) or diseases such as acoustic norinoma and vestibular svannoma. Although the studies are not conclusive, it would be wise to use headphones and reduce the use of mobile phones in order to be cautious.

False: Herbal treatments cure cancer.

Real: No, although some studies show that complementary therapies reduce some cancer-related side effects, in general herbal products are not therapeutic. However, herbal treatments decrease the effectiveness of the treatment or increase the side effects by interacting with the drugs used in cancer.

False: People with cancer in their family will definitely develop cancer.

Real: About 5-10 percent of cancers are hereditary, meaning they are caused by the transmission of a genetic mutation (change) that causes cancer. In the remaining 90-95 percent of cancer patients, cancer develops in the natural aging process as a result of exposure to carcinogens or environmental factors (such as smoking, radiation).

False: The only treatment in cancer treatment is chemotherapy.

Real: No, nowadays, with a better understanding of the molecular infrastructure of cancer, smart drugs and immunotherapy with more effective and less side effects are widely used.

False: Cancer always comes back, relapses.

Real: In many early stage cancers, the probability of the cancer coming back is very low with appropriate treatments.

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