Debunking top cancer myths in women

 Debunking top cancer myths in women
Times of India
With thousands of new cases stated every year, cancer is topping the list of diseases diagnosed in India. Not only men but women also are now increasingly becoming vulnerable to this disease. Blame it all on the dual lifestyle, which is taking a toll on their health. 

Cervical, breast, and ovarian cancers are the common cancers among the women of this country. Unfortunately, there are certain myths that people have regarding these cancers like which need to be busted. Some of the common ones are:

Myth: Cervical cancer cannot be prevented Fact: It is the only cancer that is preventable. There are two major vaccines for H.P.V virus-Gardasil and Cervarix, which are now available and can be given to girls starting from the age of 12. These vaccines are given thrice in a span of six months to complete a course. Another important point in prevention cervical cancer is that it has a long pre cancer stage and repeated tests for screening is possible. So if it is detected at this stage then it is 100% cured.

Myth: Only elder females are prone to cervical cancer Fact: One very common myth prevailing among young females is that they cannot get affected by cervical cancer and it affects only elder females. But the fact is that this disease can affect people of any age group and one should go for screening right from the age of 21. Generally, older women believe that they don’t require Pap Smears. However, older women should also continue taking PAP tests regularly until at least the age of 70. The risk of the disease does not decrease with advanced age. There are no specific symptoms except excessive vaginal discharge and irregular or post menopausal bleeding. Routine screening with PAP and HPV DNA test every 3 years above 30 years is recommended.

Myth: Most breast lumps are cancerous Fact: A majority of lumps formed in women’s breasts are caused by noncancerous changes, cysts or other conditions. However, one must inform their doctors regarding any noticeable changes discharge from nipple or hard palpable lump to detect any possibly chances of breast cancer at an early stage. Accordingly, the doctor would recommend mammogram, ultrasound, or biopsy to determine whether a lump is cancerous. In case ultrasound or mammography causes suspicion, MRI can be done.

Myth: Abortion and miscarriage increases breast cancer risk Fact: Although there are evidences to support the fact that conceiving before the age of 30 can reduce the risk of breast cancer, there is no proof yet to support the idea that miscarriage or abortion could increase breast cancer risk.

Myth: Ovarian cancer is always a deadly disease Fact: Ovarian cancer can be called a serious illness, but it’s definitely not always deadly. A surgery performed by a gynecologic oncologist combined with certain chemotherapy drugs improves and increases survival rates. This also helps in preventing the relapsing, even in women with later stages of the disease.

Myth: There are no early signs of ovarian cancer Fact: Many women with ovarian cancer do have early warning signs. However, common symptoms like abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating, urinary urgency and pelvic discomfort or pain mimic those of many other conditions. It’s not unusual for women with ovarian cancer to be diagnosed first with a digestive or bladder disorder. With these concerns, symptoms tend to come and go, occur in certain situations or are related to certain foods. With ovarian cancer, symptoms are likely to occur daily for weeks or months on end. Symptomatic women who have been treated for other health conditions and have not improved should schedule a follow-up visit with their doctor or seek a second opinion.

Myth: Only women who have had more than one sexual partner get affected by cervical cancer Fact: There are a large number of women, who have had one sexual partner and are still affected by cervical cancer because HPV is spread easily by intimate skin-to-skin contact in the genital area regardless of the number of sexual partners. Again, a common notion is that condoms provide 100% protection against HPV. No doubt, it provides protection and reduces the risk of getting affected by the disease but it should be kept in mind that the virus can be transmitted via other portions of genitalia which are not covered by condoms.

Myth: Chances of acquiring breast cancer are slimmer in small-breasted women Fact: There is no connection between the size of your breasts and the chances of getting breast cancer. All women, regardless of their breast size, should get their routine screenings and checkups done.

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