Myths & Misconceptions PDF 




Myth#1. Cancer is contagious and infectious - FALSE.
No. Cancer is not catching and is not transferred from one person to another.

Myth#2. Cancer can be transmitted by kissing or casual contact between persons or between persons and animals - FALSE.
No scientific basis whatsoever.

Myth#3. Mental condition influences the course of cancer - FALSE.
Cancer is a physical and biological, not a mental phenomenon.

Myth#4. Irregular food habits cause cancer of stomach - FALSE.
There is no scientific evidence that it will, since cancer of the stomach may occur in people who eat most regularly.

Myth#5. All moles will become cancers and should be removed - FALSE.
No. A flat colorless mole is probably as harmless as a freckle. Bluish-black hairless moles, especially when subject to irritation, should be removed. Any mole or wart showing changes in size or color or bleeding should be promptly and completely removed and the tissue examined by a pathologist to determine if cancer is present.

Myth#6. Cancer cannot be controlled by any means - FALSE.
Visiting a clinician forthwith on the appearance of a warning sign of cancer could well save your life. After the age of 35, make an annual screening and check up your routine. Women over 35 should be examined twice a year. The earlier you catch (detect) a cancer, the greater are the chances that it can be nipped in the bud.

Myth#7. Pain is the earliest symptom of cancer - FALSE.
Except in a cancer involving bone or nerve tissue, pain usually is a late symptom and when it occurs, the growth is often far advanced.

Myth#8. Piles often turn into cancer - FALSE.
Piles or hemorrhoids are merely enlarged veins in the rectal wall. Cancer is occasionally found in tissues above the hemorrhoids, so "bleeding piles" should be examined carefully to determine whether cancer is also present. Rectal bleeding can occur due to cancer.

Myth#9. One should wait before consulting a physician as the symptoms may not be serious - FALSE
The sooner it is found, the lesser is the likelihood of it having spread to other parts of the body. The highest chances for any treatment method to succeed is when the cancer load is the least possible.

Myth#10. Cancer is incurable - FALSE.
Although 'cure' is a very tricky term when applied for cancer, nevertheless, it certainly cannot be called 'incurable' by a long shot. Nearly 80% cancers can be treated, depending on the type of cancer and how early the patient comes to the right doctor. But cancers do have a notorious proclivity for recurring, unless the patients are monitored carefully. Patients of cancer, treated or otherwise, with evidence of disease in their body at present or without, are termed 'cancer survivors'. The term 'cure' is used if the cancer survivor is free of the disease for a period of 25 years.

Myth#11. Cancer research is difficult and there is not much progress - FALSE.
Real progress is being made in cancer research, throwing new light on normal and abnormal growth processes. But finding the cause of cancer and its prevention is still incomplete. Investigations have opened up on all fronts; in chemistry by a study of hormones and chemicals and the complex role they play in cancer; in physics by application of radioactive materials and development of X-rays of very high voltage and their precise targeting of the diseased tissues; in surgery by better planning in excision of tumor; and thorough study of enzymes, genetics, nutrition, cytochemistry, etc. Several scientific disciplines join together to study the complex nature of cancer.

Scientists are routinely and rigorously carrying out exhaustive clinical trials, to test out new treatment methods and to learn more about each type of cancer.

Oncology, the study & management of cancer, is the fastest evolving branch of modern medicine today.

Myth#12. All breast lumps are cancerous - FALSE.
Only a small percentage of lumps are cancers. But a specialist must rule this out.

Myth#13. Children often do not suffer from cancer - FALSE.
There is no age exempt from cancer. In fact, certain cancers like those in the blood and in the eyes occur more often in children.




Three Myths about Nausea and Sickness.

Myth#1. All cancer treatment makes you feel sick. - FALSE.
In fact, each person reacts differently to cancer therapy. Some people experience nausea, others don't. Also symptoms can come and go throughout treatment.

Myth#2. There are no medicines for nausea and sickness caused by cancer therapy. The ones that are available cause side effects. - FALSE.
Medicines are available to help, many of which do not have side effects. These medicines are called antiemetics. You can ask your doctor about them.

Myth#3. Getting sick means the cancer treatment is working. - FALSE.
Whether treatment makes you sick or nauseous has no bearing on its effectiveness. Each person reacts differently to treatment - some people get side effects, others do not.




Four Myths about Pain Medication.

Myth#1. Only take pain medication when you have severe pain. - FALSE.

Do not wait to take medication until the pain becomes bad. Pain is easier to control when it is mild than when it has become severe. Take pain medicine regularly just as your doctor or nurse tells you.

If you are in pain, alerting your doctor or nurse right away; and getting help sooner rather than later, often makes pain treatment more effective. Most cancer-related pains can be controlled with medicines, surgery, radiation therapy or other treatments. Remember; early treatment of pain is almost always more effective than waiting until the pain is severe or unbearable. When you have less pain, you are more likely to be active and interested in doing the things you enjoy.

There are many medicines used to treat cancer pain. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following drugs for different kinds of pain:

  • Non-opioids (that is, drugs not derived from opium or opiates) are often used for mild to moderate pain. Many of these drugs (acetaminophen's and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen) are available without prescription.
  • Opioids (derived from opium) such as morphine and codeine can be prescribed for moderate to severe pain. These can only be obtained with your doctors prescription. Sometimes they are combined with non-opioids to manage moderate pain.
  • Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are often used for the tingling and burning pains associated with cancer. These drugs can only be obtained by prescription. Taking them does not mean you are suffering from depression or convulsions.
  • Steroids (such as prednisone) are particularly effective for pains caused by swelling. These are available only with a prescription.

Most of these medicines are available in pill form. In some cases, however, they may be given in other forms, particularly if you are having difficulty swallowing. You should ask your doctor whether you can take some medicines as rectal suppositories, patches placed on the skin, or by injection.

There are also some non-medical treatments for relieving pain that you can do yourself. Some relaxation exercises you may want to try include:

  • Slow, rhythmic, breathing.
  • Simple touch, massage or warmth (heat packs).
  • Focussing on peaceful memories or things you would like to do.
  • Listening to music.

These should never be used in place of medications your doctor has prescribed for you, but along with them. Sometimes these activities can help release tension or anxiety you may have built up with your condition. They can help you feel more in control of your body.

Myth#2. Pain medications are addicting. - FALSE.
People do not get high on pain medication, and most pain medications are non addictive. Opioids like morphine canbe addictive if used injudiciously; therefore it is important for you to strictly follow the regimen prescribed by your oncologist.

Myth#3. Over time, the medication will stop working. - FALSE.
The medication never stops working, but sometimes your body will get used to it and develop what is called a tolerance for it. If this occurs, your doctor may increase your dosage, prescribe a different drug, or use a combination of drugs.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to relieve your cancer pain is to have a pain control plan that you share with your doctor and nurse. Together, you can come up with a program of when to take your medicines, how and when to take extra medicines, how to treat potential side effects, and other things you can do to ease or prevent pain. But don't forget this is a trial-and-error process. For some people,the first pain control plan does not work, and they need to make adjustments.

To help your pain medicine work best, be sure to take it on a regular schedule and as prescribed by your doctor. Do not skip a dose or wait for the pain to get worse before taking your medicine. The goal is to prevent pain. Once you are feeling the pain, it is more difficult to get it under control.

You may want to keep a record of how your pain medication is working, so that you can discuss it more fully with your doctor. There are many different medicines and treatments that can be used to conquer pain, so you and your doctor should discuss what is working for you and what is not. Together, you will find the pain medicine that will help you the most. Of course, like all medicines, pain medications can have unpleasant side effects. You may or may not get the following:

  • Constipation.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Slowed breathing.
  • Dizziness.
  • Rashes.

If you experience any of these after taking pain medication, you should contact your doctor immediately. In many cases, these symptoms will only last for the first day or two of your taking the medication.

For constipation, you are encouraged to drink lots of liquids and to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Some patients will have pain that cannot be relieved with medicines. In these cases, pain can be reduced through radiation therapy (to shrink a tumor), nerve blocks (to block the pain at a nerve source), neurosurgery, or surgery.

Myth#4. It is better to live with pain than to complain too much. - FALSE.

Controlling pain is an important part of your care, so you should always tell your doctor or nurse when you are feeling pain. It is not a weakness to discuss your pain with your healthcare partners. Relief from pain will give you more energy to fight the cancer and live your life.


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