For More Information, Please Call Us At call 603.524.3211

Health Information Library

 
Categories > Cancer > Cancer treatment

Mayo Content Display

Reality check: 4 common cancer myths debunked

» Myth 1. All you need to beat cancer is a positive attitude.

» Myth 2. Cancer can’t be effectively treated.

» Myth 3. Treating cancer with surgery can cause it to spread.

» Myth 4. Medications aren’t effective in reducing cancer pain.

Other myths that spark fear

Have you thrown out an electric blanket for fear it causes cancer? Do you step away from the microwave while nuking food “just in case”? Americans worry that a lot of things cause cancer. But according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, you can breathe a little easier, since no conclusive evidence links cancer with the following items:

  • pesticide residues
  • cell phones
  • genetically modified foods
  • food additives
  • breast implants
  • hormones in beef
  • artificial sweeteners
  • fluoridated water
  • antiperspirants
  • electromagnetic fields from computer terminals and household appliances

Although most Americans think they know a lot about cancer, many people still believe some common misconceptions about the disease, according to a recent American Cancer Society survey. These mistaken notions can lead people with cancer to put off seeking the important care they need, undermining their recovery.

The following four myths are among the most persistent and unfounded.

Myth 1. All you need to beat cancer is a positive attitude.

A positive attitude can improve your quality of life during cancer treatment. With upbeat determination, you’re more inclined to eat well, exercise, get adequate rest and follow your treatment program. But a sunny outlook can’t destroy malignant tumors. Doctors rely on effective treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and biological therapy to fight cancer.

Myth 2. Cancer can’t be effectively treated.

The flip side of myth#1, this pessimistic perception holds that cancer is unstoppable once it develops. But today’s early detection methods and more precise treatment options can often halt cancer in its tracks. In 2002, for example, more than 10 million Americans were alive who had been diagnosed with cancer at least five years earlier. Of those, almost 716,000 were diagnosed with cancer more than 27 years ago.

Myth 3. Treating cancer with surgery can cause it to spread.

Years ago, cancer was often more advanced by the time doctors discovered it during exploratory surgery—which fueled the notion that opening the body during an operation and exposing tumors to air caused cancer to spread. On the contrary, surgically removing malignant tissue is a critical part of many peoples’ cancer treatment plans, often preceding chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Myth 4. Medications aren’t effective in reducing cancer pain.

About 90 percent of people with cancer pain can get relief, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Unfortunately, many people don’t seek help when they feel pain. Some patients forget to take medication or wait too long between doses. Others won’t complain to their doctors when they feel pain. But speaking up about cancer pain to your doctor or nurse and adhering to a regular pain medication schedule can prevent pain before it starts or worsens.


© 2014 Dowden Health Media