What You Don’t Know About Cancer

World Cancer Day 2013 focuses on dispelling myths

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News)  “World Cancer Day is a chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease.”

This year, World Cancer Day is working to replace four myths with the truth about the impact of cancer around the world.

"Learn what you can do to avoid cancer."

Myth #1 – Cancer is just a health issue.

  • While cancer affects the health and well-being of millions of people around the world, it is also a global social, economic and human rights issue.
  • “Cancer is both a cause and an outcome of poverty,” according to World Cancer Day officials. The disease affects the ability to earn a living and treatment costs deepen a family’s poverty.
  • Poverty, poor education and lack of access to health care increase a person’s risk of getting and dying from the disease.

Myth #2 - Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries

  • People in developing nations have about 47 percent of the cancer cases in the world and 55 percent of the cancer deaths.
  • If this trend continues, 81 percent of cancer cases will be found in developing countries by 2030.
  • Cervical cancer is a good example – with 85 percent of the 275,000 women who die from the disease being from developing countries. By 2030, if the trend continues, cervical cancer will kill 430,000 women, almost all of whom will come from the developing world.

Myth #3 - Cancer is a death sentence.

  • The vast majority of early cancers are treatable.
  • 12 million patients are living with and surviving cancer in the United States.
  • Countries that have organized breast cancer screening programs have seen a significant reduction in deaths. Australia, for example, has seen a 30 percent decrease in breast cancer mortality over the past 20 years.

Myth #4 – Cancer is my fate.

  • About a third of cancers are preventable.
  • Cancer risks can be reduced by quitting smoking (or never starting), limiting alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet that includes more whole foods, increasing physical activity and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Tobacco use will kill an estimated one billion people this century.
  • Tobacco is linked to 71 percent of lung cancer deaths and 22 percent of cancer deaths.
  • Infections cause about 16 percent of all cancer cases globally.
  • Liver, cervical and stomach cancers are linked to hepatitis B virus, human papillomavirus (HPV) and the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), respectively. Safe and affordable vaccine programs could help curb this burden.

To learn more about the facts about cancer and what you can do to increase awareness, visit the World Cancer Day website.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 4, 2013
Last Updated:
August 19, 2013