Certain popular ideas about how cancer starts and spreads—though scientifically wrong—can seem to make sense, especially when those ideas are rooted in old theories. But wrong ideas about cancer can lead to needless worry and even hinder good prevention and treatment decisions.
In the United States, the likelihood of dying from cancer has dropped steadily since the 1990s. Five-year survival rates for some cancers, such as breast, prostate, and thyroid cancers, now are 90 percent or better. The 5-year survival rate for all cancers combined is currently about 67 percent. Though the numbers for a developing country like India might be lower due to unequal distribution of health care in urban and rural areas, overall, in many cities with access to standard cancer care, the survival rates are similar to the developing countries
It is important to note, however, that these rates are based on data from large numbers of people. How long an individual cancer patient will live and whether he or she will die from the disease depend on many factors, including whether the cancer is slow or fast growing, how much the cancer has spread in the body, whether effective treatments are available, the person’s overall health, and more.
Will eating sugar make my cancer worse?
No. Although research has shown that cancer cells consume more sugar (glucose) than normal cells, no studies have shown that eating sugar will make your cancer worse or that, if you stop eating sugar, your cancer will shrink or disappear. However, a high-sugar diet may contribute to excess weight gain, and obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing several types of cancer.
Is cancer contagious?
In general, no. Cancer is not a contagious disease that easily spreads from person to person. The only situation in which cancer can spread from one person to another is in the case of organ or tissue transplantation. A person who receives an organ or tissue from a donor who had cancer in the past may be at increased risk of developing a transplant-related cancer in the future. However, that risk is extremely low—about two cases of cancer per 10,000 organ transplants. Doctors avoid the use of organs or tissue from donors who have a history of cancer.
In some people, cancers may be caused by certain viruses (some types of human papillomavirus, or HPV, for example) and bacteria (such as Helicobacter pylori). While a virus or bacterium can spread from person to person, the cancers cannot spread from person to person.
Does my attitude—positive or negative—determine my risk of, or likely recovery from, cancer?
To date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that links a person’s “attitude” to his or her risk of developing or dying from cancer. If you have cancer, it’s normal to feel sad, angry, or discouraged sometimes and positive or upbeat at other times. People with a positive attitude may be more likely to maintain social connections and stay active, and physical activity and emotional support may help you cope with your cancer.
Can cancer surgery or a tumor biopsy cause cancer to spread in the body?
The chance that surgery will cause cancer to spread to other parts of the body is extremely low. Following standard procedures, surgeons use special methods and take many steps to prevent cancer cells from spreading during biopsies or surgery to remove tumors.
Some patients who do not take adjuvant therapy like chemotherapy and radiotherapy have higher chance of recurrence or spread of cancer and this is falsely interpreted by laymen as “worsening of patient condition due to surgery”.
Will cancer get worse if exposed to air?
No. Exposure to air will not make tumors grow faster or cause cancer to spread to other parts of the body. For information about how cancer spreads in the body, see our page on Metastatic Cancer.
Do cell phones cause cancer?
No, not according to the best studies completed so far. Cancer is caused by genetic mutations, and cell phones emit a type of low-frequency energy that does not damage genes.
Do power lines cause cancer?
No, not according to the best studies completed so far. Power lines emit both electric and magnetic energy. The electric energy emitted by power lines is easily shielded or weakened by walls and other objects. The magnetic energy emitted by power lines is a low-frequency form of radiation that does not damage genes.
Are there herbal products that can cure cancer?
No. Although some studies suggest that alternative or complementary therapies, including some herbs, may help patients cope with the side effects of cancer treatment, no herbal products have been shown to be effective for treating cancer. In fact, some herbal products may be harmful when taken during chemotherapy or radiation therapy because they may interfere with how these treatments work. Cancer patients should talk with their doctor about any complementary and alternative medicine products—including vitamins and herbal supplements—they may be using.
If someone in my family has cancer, am I likely to get cancer, too?
Not necessarily. Cancer is caused by harmful changes (mutations) in genes. Only about 5 to 10 percent of cancers are caused by harmful mutations that are inherited from a person’s parents. In families with an inherited cancer-causing mutation, multiple family members will often develop the same type of cancer. These cancers are called “familial” or “hereditary” cancers.
The remaining 90 to 95 percent of cancers are caused by mutations that happen during a person’s lifetime as a natural result of aging and exposure to environmental factors, such as tobacco smoke and radiation. These cancers are called “non-hereditary” or “spontaneous” cancers.
If no one in my family has had cancer, does that mean I’m risk-free?
No. Based on the most recent data, about 38 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lives. Most cancers are caused by genetic changes that occur throughout a person’s lifetime as a natural result of aging and exposure to environmental factors, such as tobacco smoke and radiation. Other factors, such as what kind of food you eat, how much you eat, and whether you exercise, may also influence your risk of developing cancer.
No. The best studies so far have found no evidence linking the chemicals typically found in antiperspirants and deodorants with changes in breast tissue.
Does alkaline water or food prevent or cure cancer?
(courtesy : British Dietetic association)
Stay away from a lot of these misconceptions which are popularised in social media and get your doubts clarified by your oncologist
Courtesy : National Cancer Institute website