10 myths about cancer


MYTH 1 - Are all cancer treatments aggressive?
Firstly cancer treatment lies in the combination of different types of treatment: chemotherapy, radiation, surgery. But the doctor treating you will customize your treatment according to your associated diseases, cancer stage, and various genetic and molecular characteristics of your tumor. They say "there are no diseases, only the ill". Out of 10 patients with breast cancer there is a good chance that none will do the same treatment. Modern medicine, after years of struggle to implement standardization of treatments, started 10 years ago to implement a "personalized treatment". This is the "new trend" in medicine.

MYTH 2 - If the cancer wonít kill you, will the treatment do it?
There are undoubtedly serious side effects during chemotherapy and radiotherapy. They are explained in other chapters. But let us not forget that "medical art" in oncology is to apply the treatment in a dose as close to the standard dose, but "not to kill the patient".

MYTH 3 - Can you not work during cancer treatment?
Many patients continue their work during their cancer treatment. There are days when you feel bad, you have strong side effects and you cannot work. Do not give up and continue to work when you feel well. If you stay in bed for weeks pitying yourself, you will be unhappy and you will not gain anything but it will alter your lifeís quality. If you get to work, you will socialize and you'll see past the disease and treatment. Try, if you can, to do an easier job which requires less effort.

MYTH 4 - If you have cancer, will you die because of this disease?
In our experience, we had many patients that had cancer with a very good prognosis but were very stressed about it, so that in the end they died from a different unrelated serious condition. For example, one man had an operation for stage II colon cancer that had chances of survival for decades, but had a heart attack and died. Statistical studies conducted in 2010 show that in a standard population group there are all types of cancer patients in different stages (from stage I to stage IV), between 60 and 70% of these patients have a chance to be alive after 5 years. With modern treatments discovered since 2010, the percentage will soon rise past 70%.

MYTH 5 - Does it take "an eternity" to recover from the adverse effects of treatment, will I ever recover?
Ask your doctor about the treatmentís length. Mostly, there are 3 or 4 or 6 cycles (up to 5 months) of chemotherapy. Radiation takes much less (only weeks). A few months after your treatment the hair will start to grow, hard skin will soften, your appetite will return, bone pain from hormone treatment will disappear. So, your appetite for life will return to normal.

MYTH 6 - Will your whole family get cancer now?
Cancer is not an infectious disease, so it cannot be transmitted to your loved ones. Rarely, only in some cases, your blood relatives of first degree (mother, father, brothers, sisters, children) may have a greater predisposition to the same cancer type that you have. Like colon cancer, it is derived from colonic polyposis (a disease that is hereditary and can degenerate into cancer), breast cancer only in certain situations, and syndromes that include cancers.

MYTH 7 - Will cancer always come back?
People want certainty. But if we think about it, we have little certainty in life. The word "always", as the word "never" approaching certainty should not be used as we are surrounded by relativity. Some colleague doctors do answer to questions like "Doctor, how long do I have?" to define the exact intervals. WRONG! What if you tell a patient that has six months to live and he lives two more years, what then? However, disease relapse is relative, is expressed as a percentage of probability and donít forget that most relapses are currently treatable.

MYTH 8 - It's your fault that you have cancer?
No, it is definitely not your fault. Cancer originates at the cellular level for reasons largely unknown today. Experts have identified some risk factors for cancer (smoking, unhealthy diet, alcohol abuse, exposure to sunlight, etc.) but not all those who are alcoholics or have unhealthy diets get cancer. These factors are favoring, not determined. Also, stress does not cause cancer, and removal of stress does not help cure cancer (this things are not scientifically proven). It's like saying you got cancer because you voted for the wrong person at the elections or do not get involved enough in our sentimental relationships. Letís not exaggerate!

MYTH 9 - Does the global medical community have a miraculous cure for cancer and keeps it a secret because current anticancer drugs are selling better?
This is the classical theory of conspiracy, as the one with the bankers and occult groups that are secretly preparing something terrible for mankind. Paranoia is a mental illness where the ideas have a touch of reality for some, but are completely unrealistic for the professionals in the field. These ideas are encouraged by the promoters of some of the scientifically unproven remedies that have no effect in stopping the disease and complain that their cure is not approved by the competent bodies for cancer treatment. Let's be clear: to sell a drug to cure cancer, it must be approved by the Medicine Agencies (in Europe there is the European body called the EMEA and similarly in the United States of America thereís the FDA). Approval of that product is a "truck load" of clinical and laboratory evidence demonstrating scientifically (and not only scientifically) the value of a drug. It must be added that every year there are tens of molecules that are found to have promising curative action in cancer treatment.

MYTH 10 - Nothing will be the same as before having cancer?
Of all the myths, this one is partly real. Indeed, there is a change, but one that gives that person a profound change in the values of his life philosophy, the joy of seeing a flower is more important than gaining a considerable fortune. Itís a change, but in the same way, nothing is the same after the first kiss, after the birth of the first child or after the age of 40. But donít we humans often say that we need changes in our lives? However, some changes are inevitable.