“Cancer” was once a word only said in whispers, and even today, many people cite a cancer diagnosis as one of their greatest fears. Perhaps that’s why so many myths and rumours about cancer still exist. But these false beliefs — some fuelled by bad information, others as outgrowths of fear — do nothing but increase anxiety.
Whatever their source, these cancer myths can be very damaging as they spread. They can distract you from protecting yourself against known cancer causes, instead drawing your focus to things that have no impact on your chances of contracting cancer. And they can hurt cancer patients’ chances of beating the disease by creating a sense of hopelessness or by enticing them to pursue unproven remedies.
Here are eight common cancer myths and the truth about each, according to leading authorities, including the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
1The chance you’ll die of cancer increases every year.
More people are being diagnosed with cancer these days, but medical advances have improved survival rates and overall quality of life for cancer patients. The five-year survival rate for all cancers combined has shown steady improvement over the past three decades, and more than 60 percent of people diagnosed with cancer are still alive five years after diagnosis. There’s been a steady decrease in the number of people dying from cancer, even as the overall population of the United States has increased.