Health

6 common myths about cancer


AmericaMany people think that cancer is a death sentence, hereditary or that drinking green tea helps prevent disease, but scientists refute these misconceptions.

Wen-Ying Sylvia Chou, director of the National Cancer Institute’s Behavioral Research Program, says cancer treatment is a stressful process, both physically and emotionally. Uncertainty about outcomes, and the complexity of treatment decisions, leave patients vulnerable to emotional harm due to misinformation.

“We all want accurate information, but the media environment gets us off track,” she said.

Experts say common misunderstandings can cause unnecessary anxiety, sometimes causing people to ignore good habits like exercise, smoking cessation or avoiding UV rays from sunlight.

Experts point out some myths about cancer that can affect many people’s psyche.

Cancer is a death sentence

Research shows that cancer death rates have steadily decreased in recent years. However, many people still consider cancer a death sentence. According to experts, this is not only a misconception, it is also very dangerous, causing many people to overlook prevention, early detection and treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 16.9 million people with cancer many years ago are still alive and have no signs of disease recurrence, as of January 2019 – the latest statistical data. On January 1, 2030, an estimated 22.1 million Americans will survive cancer.

“Decades ago, people always thought that cancer was synonymous with death because of the high mortality rate and the lack of advanced treatments. Now, we have full prevention, early screening. and reverse cancer. The vast majority of patients survive longer, a number that increases every decade,” said Dr. Karthik Giridhar of the Mayo Clinic.

He said early detection of tumors is very important. For example, the breast cancer mortality rate peaked in 1989. Since then, the number has dropped 42% thanks to early screening, effective treatments, and awareness programs. Similarly, the 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 100% for men diagnosed promptly, before the tumor has metastasized.

Cancer can spread

Medical experts confirm that no type of cancer can be spread from person to person. However, certain viruses and bacteria can increase the risk of cancer, including the papilloma virus (which causes cervical cancer), the hepatitis B virus (which causes liver cancer), and the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (which causes cancer). stomach letter).

“You can hug someone with cancer, even have intimate contact, without risking infection,” says Julie Nangia, an associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

The side effects of chemotherapy are terrible

“This is definitely not true,” Associate Professor Nangia said. Currently, supportive care drugs are very effective, most of which respond well in cancer patients, she said. In fact, uncontrollable nausea, fatigue, and other serious side effects are rare.

Diane Reidy-Lagunes, associate director of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Regional Care Network, agrees.

“Current treatments are indicated for a variety of reasons, for different types of cancer. Chemotherapy can shrink tumors before surgery or to control the disease, keeping the patient stable. Doctors consider many factors when developing a treatment regimen for each person. They all try to avoid side effects as much as possible,” explains Lagunes.

She said patients can take the drug before chemotherapy to prevent side effects like vomiting or nausea. The most common side effect is fatigue over time.

A patient receives cancer treatment at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Image: NY Times

Deodorant causes breast cancer

Usually, before a mammogram, a doctor will ask a woman not to use deodorant or antiperspirant. That has led some to suggest that these products may cause cancer. However, experts say this is not true.

“Doctors ask for this because deodorants and antiperspirants contain aluminum, which looks like calcium, and affects the results of X-rays or mammograms,” Associate Professor Nangia said.

Cancer is always hereditary

According to Nangia, some types of cancer can run in families, putting members at a higher risk of developing the disease. However, a person can develop cancer at any point in life, regardless of family history. The incidence of the disease increases with age. So, basically, cancer is a disease of old age.

“Most people with cancer don’t have a family history. It’s important to identify families with inherited cancer syndrome genes, for example, it’s important to identify families with a genetic syndrome.” Hereditary cancers, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, so that members can be screened thoroughly and take effective preventive measures,” said Nangia.

Drinking green tea can prevent cancer

Ting Bao, director of the Department of Breast Cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, says the active ingredients in green tea such as polyphenols or epigallocathechin may prevent cancer. Their mechanism is to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.

“So in theory, green tea could prevent cancer. However, a person would have to drink very large amounts of green tea every day to be effective,” Dr. Bao said.

To date, evidence that drinking green tea daily can reduce cancer risk in clinical studies has been very limited. Many analyzes have shown side effects from drinking a lot of green tea, such as indigestion and increased liver enzymes.

Most of the published studies were conducted in Asia. Therefore, they lack diversity and generality.

Thuc Linh (Follow Washington Post)

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