5 persistent Cancer myths debunked

The below Inputs are provided by Dr. Sudarsan De, Radiation Oncologist, Jaypee Hospital, Noida

New Delhi, February 3,2018 :

Cancer is the second highest killer throughout the world. Every year, nearly 13-15 lakh new cancer cases are diagnosed in India. The name of Cancer is associated with a lot of fear, negativity and stigma. The name evokes visions of mortality and morbidity in patients, their family members and relatives alike. Like all the dark Lord’s in mythical stories, it is shrouded in a layer of myths and misconception. So on World Cancer Day; let’s have a reality check on these myths:

Myth no 1: Cancer does not have an answer.

Absolutely untrue, with today’s modern day diagnostics and treatment protocols, cancer has become a disease which is highly curable in the early and not so early stages. In fact, many patients of early cancer including lymphomas and leukaemias are surviving for more than 15-20 years now. Even quite a significant percentage of locally advanced and late stage cancers have very effective treatment protocols which can prolong life and even provide a cure in a good number of cases.

Myth 2: Cancer is a disease of old age

Although majority of cancer takes place above 50 years of age, but there has been a marked increase in cases among the young. It is also very essential to know that cancer in the young is more aggressive and needs to be tackled early. In India, both Head & Neck and Breast cancers are being diagnosed as early as third and fourth decades of life.

Myth 3: Biopsy causes spread of cancer.

A common myth that is propagated is that biopsy or FNAC (fine needle aspiration cytology) leads to spread of cancer. Most biopsies are done by Surgeons and Surgical Oncologists in a proper manner which does not lead to any spread. A biopsy or FNAC is a very essential part of cancer diagnosis and treatment and should not be ignored at all

Myth 4: Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy is painful.

Not at all, although you may feel a pinch while the injection might be started during chemotherapy, it is not painful as a whole. Most of the cancer drugs are diluted in intravenous fluids like Saline or Glucose and are infused slowly. Though there are side effects in the post chemotherapy period, better supportive care takes care of those. With newer techniques of radiotherapy, side effects have been drastically reduced and it is totally painless

Myth 5: Cancer is painful and painless lumps aren’t cancerous

One of the biggest myths prevalent today is that people tend to ignore painless lumps thinking that they will resolve by themselves. But, these are essentially the ones you should be showing to your Family Doctors and General Practitioners for a second opinion with an Oncologist. Although cancers do become painful in later stages, but most of the early stage cancers appear as painless lumps.

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