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1. MYTH: Cancer is contagious.

Fact

Cancer is not contagious. However, some cancers are caused by viruses and bacteria e.g. Human Papillomavirus (cervical cancer), Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C (liver cancer), Epstein Barr virus (lymphomas, nasopharyngeal cancers and stomach cancer) or Helicobacter pylori bacteria (stomach cancer) [1,2].

2. MYTH: If no one in your family has had cancer, you will not get cancer.

Fact

If no one in your family has ever suffered from cancer it does not guarantee that you will not get cancer. Only 5-10 % of the cancers are familial or hereditary. The rest are caused by genetic changes that occur throughout a person’s lifetime by chance, natural result of aging and exposure to environmental factors, such as tobacco, smoke and radiation[3].

3. MYTH: If you have a family history of cancer, you will surely get cancer.

Fact

Although having a family history of cancer increases your risk of developing the disease, it is not a definite predictor. Only about 5 to 10 % of cancers are caused by harmful mutations that are inherited from a person’s parents [4].

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4. MYTH: Positive thinking will cure cancer.

Fact

Although a positive attitude may improve your quality of life during cancer treatment, there is no scientific evidence that it can cure cancer [4].

5. MYTH: If you are diagnosed with cancer, you will probably die in a short time.

Fact

Cancer is not a death sentence. Advances in cancer detection and treatment have increased survival rates for most common types of cancer. In fact, many people with cancer survive five years or more after their initial diagnosis [5].

6. MYTH: Cancer is always very painful.

Fact

The cancer may not be painful in the early stages. However, as it grows and spreads to other parts it may become painful. In the majority of cases cancer pain can be successfully treated with medications and other pain management techniques [6].

7. MYTH: Older people are not fit for cancer treatment.

Fact

There is no age limit for cancer treatment. Many elderly patients may respond as well to cancer treatment as younger patients. People with cancer should receive the treatment that is best suited to their condition, regardless of age [7].

8. MYTH: Cancer treatment is usually worse than the disease.

Fact

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy are known to cause side effects that can be unpleasant and sometimes serious. However recent improvements have resulted in better tolerance to many chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments. The adverse symptoms like severe nausea and vomiting, hair loss, and tissue damage are much less common these days; however, managing side effects remains an important part of cancer care. Your doctor along with a palliative or supportive care team, can help a person to manage and control side effects of treatment at any stage of illness [8,9].

9. MYTH: People being treated for cancer can’t participate in their usual activities.

Fact

Many cancer patients are treated on an outpatient basis or require short hospital stay only, and can often continue with their day-to-day activities. They can work part-time or full-time, care for their children, and attend social activities, even while undergoing cancer treatment [10].

10. MYTH: Use of cell phones and presence of cell phone towers in your vicinity can cause cancer.

Fact

According to most studies conducted so far, cell phones have not been found to be causative for cancer. Cancer is caused by genetic mutations, and cell phones emit a type of low-frequency energy that does not damage genes. However, whether cell phones and cell phone towers cause cancer still remains controversial [11].

11. MYTH: Herbal products can cure cancer.

Fact

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 scientifically proven to be effective in treatment of cancer [12].

12. MYTH: Hair dyes and antiperspirants can cause cancer.

Fact

There is no conclusive scientific evidence that these items increase the risk of developing cancer [13].

13. MYTH: Artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours and food additives can cause cancer.

Fact

Researchers have found no evidence that artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours and food additives cause cancer in humans [14].

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