Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Debunking cancer myths on World Cancer Day


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Today is World Cancer Day, a time when people across the globe can join together and commit themselves to the fight against cancer. For anyone currently undergoing treatment, think of this day as the world is saying, “We’re with you.”

In 2012, 8.2 million people died from cancer, making the disease the leading cause of death worldwide.  One-third of these deaths could have been prevented if the cancer had been caught early or treated appropriately. That’s 2.7 million lives lost prematurely.

World Cancer Day helps to raise awareness, urge governments to take action against the disease and, ultimately, save millions of lives. This year, today’s theme is “Debunk the myths!”

Myth #1: We don’t need to talk about cancer.

Cancer is not typically a topic of conversation. In many places around the world, it’s taboo to even bring it up. As a result, people with cancer can experience discrimination that prevents them for getting the care they need. Here’s why we should talk about cancer: It can help ease feelings of fear, anger, sadness, loneliness and anxiety. Talking about cancer also can bring people new information, such as treatment options and how to deal with side effects.

Myth #2: There are no signs or symptoms of cancer.

In reality, many cancers have warning signs and symptoms. Early stage cancers are most treatable, which is why early detection is critical. Screenings exist to aid in early detection for many cancers, including breast, cervical, skin and colorectal cancers. A woman who’s had even one Pap test between ages 30 and 40 can reduce her lifetime risk of cervical cancer by one-third.

Myth #3: There is nothing I can do about cancer.

Consider this: One-third of the most common cancers can be prevented. We all can make choices to reduce our cancer risk, such as not smoking, avoiding alcohol in excess and maintaining a healthy weight.

  • Of all individuals who die from lung cancer worldwide, 71 percent were tobacco users.
  • Alcohol is a known risk factor for cancer and may increase your risk for liver, throat, oral, breast and colorectal cancers.
  • Being overweight or obese may increase your risk of certain cancers, as well, including colorectal, breast, uterine, pancreatic , kidney and esophageal cancers. 

Myth #4: I don’t have the right to cancer care.

In many countries, access to care is limited, which promotes the idea that people don’t have a right to treatment. Disparities in cancer outcomes exist between developed countries such as the United States and those in the developing world. For example, 85 percent of women who die from cervical cancer are from developing countries.

This World Cancer Day, we encourage you to commit to the fight against cancer. Empower yourself with the information above and learn more about cancer by watching The Anatomy of Cancer.