Despite innumerable researches done on different types of cancers and their respective treatments, there are many more truths regarding the disease which are yet to be unraveled.
Owing to the incomplete understanding and the serious nature of the disease, there are many myths about cancer and its treatment. These misconceptions about the disease and its treatment confuse the patient regarding the choice of the treatment and the correct time to begin it. This leads to wasting of precious time. So it is imperative to bust the various rumors floating around about the cancer treatment. Some of the popular cancer treatment myths are:
1. Cancer can be beaten by just keeping a positive attitudeNo study has yet proved that patients with a positive attitude respond more favorably to cancer treatment as compared to patients who have given up hope.
2. With all the advanced technology that we have, we should have a cancer cure by nowYes, it is true that with all the technology that we have to aid us today, we should be closer to finding a cure for cancer. But alas! cancer is a very complex disease. It can affect people of different age groups, involves different organs of the body, may be of a different cell type and behave differently in different people. It is difficult to predict which stimulus initiates cancerous changes in the cells and whether the stimulus remains the same in two different individuals. Even the pattern of the progression of the disease does not remain the same in different persons. Moreover, the cancer cells may mutate during the course of the illness. This may result in the patient suddenly becoming unresponsive to the treatment to which he was reacting positively earlier. In such a scenario, the chemotherapy drugs being given to the patient may have to be changed altogether.
3. New cancer treatments are deliberately blocked by the drug companies and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)It is a common myth that a cure for cancer has been found but the FDA, in collusion with the various drug companies, is deliberately keeping it from the public. This can easily be the biggest myth about cancer treatment. The primary requisition for any successful treatment is that we trust the agencies responsible for it. Remember that cancer is a very complex disease. Any new drug coming in the market has to undergo rigorous scientific studies and tests to establish its safety for human consumption. This is a time taking but a very essential process meant for our own good. Doctors and people from the pharmaceutical industries are also ordinary mortals who may be effected from cancer themselves at some point of time. Therefore finding an early cure for the disease serves everyone’s interest. Nobody is to gain by blocking the release of new cancer treatments.
4. Undergoing tests, like a needle biopsy, can disturb the cancer cells leading to their spread to other parts of the bodyNeedle biopsy is a procedure done to diagnose the nature of a tumor wherein the tissue, taken through biopsy, is studied under a microscope. Barring a few exceptions, like the testicular tumor, there is no evidence to suggest that performing a needle biopsy can disturb the cancer cells, resulting in their metastasis to other parts of the body.
5. Surgery can result in the spread of cancerThis myth has often caused a delay in treatment resulting in the further spread of the disease. Surgery is often the first line of treatment, when the cancerous lump is diagnosed, as it removes the bulk of the tumor. However, there are instances when the surgeon has found on the operation table that the cancer is too advanced to be operated upon and has called off the operation. This may have given birth to the false belief that probably the surgery has caused the cancer to advance. However, this is just a baseless rumor with no grain of truth in it.
6. It is essential for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer to undergo mastectomyIt is not necessary to undergo breast removal for all types of breast cancers. Lumpectomy, followed by radiotherapy, is fast becoming the preferred treatment for early stage breast cancers like ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). In this less invasive form of cancer treatment, the tumor is removed along with a rim of normal breast tissue, thus preserving the breast. Depending on the nature of the cancer cells, some women are also advised chemotherapy as the first line of treatment. This causes the tumor to shrink in size. Subsequently, the patient can undergo lumpectomy instead of going for whole breast removal.
7. Prophylactic mastectomy will eliminate the chances of developing breast cancerWomen who have a high risk of developing breast cancer undergo unilateral or bilateral prophylactic mastectomy as a preventive measure. Studies indicate that almost 90% women benefit by this procedure. But to say that all the chances of developing breast cancer are eliminated in such women is a myth. One must remember that the breast tissue extends under the arms, to the chest wall and right up to the neck. Undergoing mastectomy does not remove this tissue completely. So some chances of developing breast cancer always remain.
8. Mammography can itself lead to breast cancerThe amount of radiation to which a woman is exposed during mammography is miniscule. As compared to that, the benefits that a routine mammography offers are immense. So to skip mammography and running the risk of not detecting a breast tumor earlier is certainly not advisable.
9. Cancer is a painful and incurable disease, therefore taking treatment is pointlessWith the medical advances made in the recent years, mortality due to cancer has considerably reduced. Many forms of cancers are now completely curable. Furthermore, various new medicines for pain have ascertained that the suffering from the disease is minimal.
10. Radiation therapy has hazardous impact on the environmentRadiation used for cancer treatment is electronically generated. The radiation therapy utilizes targeted x-rays to kill the cancer cells or to prevent them from multiplying. It has no effect on the environment.
Thus, we see that there are many misconceptions regarding cancer treatment. It is always advisable to consult your doctor and clear all the doubts that you may have beforehand rather than delaying the treatment just on the basis of hearsay.