Myth: Cancer is a “fight” you have to “win”
“Many people think of cancer as a battle that can be won by the most determined and committed patient. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. Even the patient who follows her oncologist’s instructions perfectly may succumb to her illness. The image of a prizefighter knocking out the enemy simply does not happen for many patients. Sometimes, a more realistic goal is to improve quality of life. Setting small goals for overall health can be important to monitor progress. Celebrating small achievements can be very meaningful.” —Ashley Sumrall, MD, section chief of neuro-oncology at the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina. To keep things in perspective, these are hopeful cancer statistics that everyone should know.
Myth: Cancer just happens, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it
“Up to 50 percent of all cancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise, diet, and avoidance of toxins. I recommend you exercise frequently, even if it is only for a short while each time, and try to keep a routine of being physically active. It’s also important to establish healthy eating habits by avoiding excess sugar and heavily processed foods and including lots of fruits and vegetables.” —Ted James, MD, a breast cancer surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. To get a jump start on reducing your risk, try these 37 simple ways you can prevent cancer.
Myth: Cancer is one disease
“In reality there are hundreds of types of cancers. Each has a unique molecular signature and variable clinical expression. In my subspecialty of neuro-oncology, we have identified at least 120 subtypes of brain and spinal cord cancer. With an enemy this diverse, our diagnostic and therapeutic approaches must expand.” —Ashley Sumrall, MD