The Most Common Misconceptions About Cancer

by on December 26th, 2010
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The One Cancer Myth
By far, the most common myth about cancer is that there is only one. If you didn’t know there are about as many diverse kinds of cancer as the flu, don’t blame yourself. As we call it “cancer”, we are unintentionally implying there is only one type, perpetuating the myth. What now serves as a huge myth was probably just the result of doctors trying to make discussing cancer among themselves a bit easier. It’s no one’s fault. The idea of a “cure for cancer” also seems to support this myth. Again, we advocate a cure for cancer to merely simplify our search to find ways to save lives, but when we consider a cure for cancer, we’re really defending the idea of “cures” for the many, many kinds of cancer cases. We’re hoping to make this easier by finding common ground between the cancers, but the fact remains that there is a universe of different kinds.

The Cell Phone Myth
This myth had a peak popularity shortly after cell phones were administered to the general public, but it lingers today. Many products and devices are thought to be carcinogens. This means that they might cause cancer in some people and that too much use or ingestion may cause cancer under certain situations. However, cell phones’ link to cancer is considered a myth by the majority of specialists. It should also be noted that the cell phone scare was based on correlation data. By definition, correlation data suggests observable relationships but are not meant to be conclusive. Therefore, this cancer myth is based upon a psychology tool’s misconception.

The Surgery Myth
While some myths about cancer might be more widely regarded, the misconception pertaining to surgery is perhaps the most dangerous, as it may prevent some from accepting much needed treatment. This myth basically states that a cancer will spread to the rest of the body if that body is exposed to air, or in other words, opened during surgery. It probably arose from the correlation between fatal cancer and surgery before cancer research and screenings were more refined, when cancer surgery was the only way to investigate whether someone may have cancer or not, and how serious that cancer may be. The point is that surgery never caused the cancer, it was just much more commonly done in instances of already severe cancer being present. While this may still frighten a number of individuals, it’s important to remember this is a myth widely discussed by professionals, in hopes to educate the public and treat more patients in the most effective manner possible.

The Epidemic Myth
Some believe that cancer is becoming more common and that the likelihood of developing cancer is higher today than it ever was in the past. This is a myth founded in distorted information. Though there are more diagnosed cases of cancer today, this is because there are more people within the general population to begin with, and also because more people with cancer symptoms are aware that they should see a doctor. The myth that many other diseases are becoming more likely to be developed are also based upon not properly understanding that a growing population will mean more disease without implying that disease is becoming more widespread.

Ruddon, Raymond W. Cancer Biology . Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Print.

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