Believe it or not, even highly educated people in our midst have a problem even saying “cancer”. People fear cancer so much that they choose to ignore symptoms rather than undergo cancer detection tests. “If there’s one thing that’s that causes more harm than cancer, it’s the fear of cancer”, say doctors.
A study by the National Cancer Registry Programme of the Indian Council of Medical Research has revealed that 80% of people with cancer in India seek medical attention only in the advanced stages, which is why treatments don’t work in 68% of the cases.
“The primary reasons for late reporting of cancer are fear and ignorance. Fear prevents early detection and possible cure. I’ve seen people who refuse to undergo mandatory cancer screenings for breast and prostrate cancer - the most common cancers in those above 40 – simply because they fear that they might be detected with cancer!” says Dr. Jem Kalathil, Senior Consultant Surgical Oncologist at Aster Medcity, Kochi.
According to leading Oncologists across the world, the first step to fighting a winning battle against cancer is overcoming the fear of the disease.
“Cancer doesn’t mean death sentence anymore. The field of cancer care is evolving by the day, which means the chances of complete cure are very high if the disease is detected and treated early. It’s important that we start treating cancer like any other disease and get over the stigma” says Dr. Arun Warrier, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Aster Medcity Kochi.
Get over the fear of cancer:
- Don’t worry, not everyone gets cancer. There’s no need to live in constant fear thinking, “Will I get cancer?”
- The very mention of the word ‘cancer’ is overwhelmingly negative for most of us. The stigma surrounding cancer and its aftereffects may not let us think objectively, but it is important to understand the fact that cancer needs to be treated like any other disease.
- Not all lumps or growth on the body are cancerous. For example, 8 out of 10 breast lumps are benign or non cancerous. But it’s better to be sure and not live in fear.
- Unnecessary fear causes stress. Chronic or prolonged stress can make the body acidic and cancer thrives in an acidic medium.
- Most people still believe that a majority of cancers are due to “outside” forces, despite clear medical evidence that environmental cancers (apart from those caused by unhealthy lifestyle) make up 10-15% of all cases.
- If you have a family history of cancer or are above the age of 40, it is recommended that you meet a doctor and undergo the recommended tests/ cancer screening just to make sure everything is fine.
- Cancer screening is for healthy people without any symptoms. Screening helps identify early signs (possibly cancerous) and prevent the disease.
- Most cancers are curable if detected and treated in the early stages.