10 myths around cancer

Cancer is a group of diseases that can originate in almost any organ or tissue in the body.

It is characterized by abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells, and is the second leading cause of death in the world. Despite its incidence in the population, there are certain ideas about its causes, development, and treatments that are wrong from a scientific point of view. Here are the main myths and truths around cancer.

Myth 1: Cancer is a single disease

TRUE: This is a very common belief, but not necessarily true. To understand why, we must know that our body constantly renews its cells to replace those that age or die.

In some cases, this process is affected and “immortal” cells are produced that accumulate in the tissues, giving rise to the appearance of tumors. These can be benign (not cancer) or malignant.

In the latter case, the damaged cells can spread throughout the body and invade other tissues, a phenomenon known as metastasis. Therefore, cancer is not considered a single disease, but a large number that are characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide without control.

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Myth 2: Cancer cannot be detected because it does not cause symptoms

TRUE: This is false. Depending on its location, cancer can cause certain signs or symptoms:

  • Tiredness or fatigue.
  • Hoarseness or chronic cough.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Bladder problems.
  • abnormal lumps
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • Skin changes.
  • Bad healing.
  • bleeding.
  • Changes in the tongue and mouth.

  • A drug managed to eliminate cancer in all its patients

In case these signs are not present (which do not necessarily indicate cancer) keep in mind that regular medical check-ups can help identify any problems.

Myth 3: Cancer is contagious

TRUE: This is an erroneous but widespread belief. Cancer is not contagious, as someone with cancer cannot spread it to others. If there are sexually transmitted diseases, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) or hepatitis B and C, which can cause cancer of the cervix and liver. However, in these cases it is an infectious agent that causes the cancer.

Myth 4: Cancer is hereditary

TRUE: Although some types of cancer are genetically transmitted through families (it is estimated that between 3 and 10%), they are the minority of cases. Experts explain that cancers are generally not clearly related to the genes that we inherit, but that most cases are due to the accumulation of mutations that genes suffer over time.

Myth 5: Cancer is always terminal

TRUE: No, cancer is not a “death sentence” as it has often been considered. As research around it progresses, experts develop better treatments, increasing recovery rates.

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This can be seen, for example, in publications such as that of the American Cancer Society (ACS), which notes that the cancer death rate for men and women fell 32% from its peak in 1991 in the US.

Myth 6: Cell phones, power lines, sweeteners or hair dyes cause cancer

TRUE: It is common for certain habits or consumption to be associated with a higher incidence of cancer, for example, cell phones or power lines (due to exposure to radiation) or the consumption of artificial sweeteners and the use of hair dyes (for the presence of certain chemicals).

However, experts point out that, to date, there is no significant scientific evidence indicating that these factors are responsible for cancer.

Myth 7: There is no cure for cancer

TRUE: Fortunately, this is a myth, because as medical science digs deeper into the mechanisms behind cancer, treatments become more and more effective. For example, some types of cancer, such as testicular and thyroid cancer, have a 60% cure rate.

Cure rate refers to the fact that cancer patients have the same life expectancy as the general population. Other types of cancer with cure rates of around 50% are bladder, prostate, or breast. Unfortunately, not all cancers can be completely cured.

Myth 8: Cancer always comes back

TRUE: Different types of cancer have different abilities to heal and different time frames during which they can usually come back. This makes it very difficult for patients to know when they are truly “cured” or when they are still at high risk of recurrence.

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However, experts say that treatments improve continuously, so the risk of recurrence tends to decrease significantly.

Myth 9: Cancer cannot be prevented

TRUE: Although not all types of cancer can be prevented, there are habits that can help reduce your risk:

  • Maintain a healthy diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Limit the intake of ultra-processed products, roast meats and alcoholic beverages.
  • No Smoking.
  • Get regular physical activity.

Regular screening for various types of cancer, such as skin, colon, cervical, or breast cancer, is also very important, as this can increase the chances of finding the cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Myth 10: There are natural products that can cure cancer

TRUE: Historically, countless products or natural remedies that claim to be effective in curing cancer have been spread (lately through the Internet). Experts claim that this is nothing more than false advertising.

Certain alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, meditation, or yoga, or herbs, such as kava kava or St. John’s wort, appear to help with the psychological stress associated with cancer and some of the side effects associated with its treatment, but far they are to cure him.

Sources consulted: US National Library of Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, American Cancer Society.

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