There are several misconceptions surrounding cancer treatment in Kerala. These are not false notions persisting in Kerala alone, but the whole of India. Undoubtedly, the misconceptions are engendered by ignorance and result in fear psychosis. This process has been part historical and partly triggered by the spread of half-baked truths or wrong information. Here is a list of such false concepts anyone connected with the treatment of cancer should be aware of:
Cancer is a death sentence:
Many people believe that a cancer diagnosis is a death sentence, but with advances in medical technology and early detection, many forms of cancer can be treated and cured. The fact is cancer is a mixed bag and the prognosis and treatment options vary depending on the site of the cancer and its stage at presentation. The earlier it is diagnosed the higher the cure rate and hence its vital to address any concerns with a qualified medical professional
Alternative medicine is better:
Some people believe that alternative medicines are more effective than conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims. Some people believe that cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy cause more harm than good. These conclusions are based on anecdotal stories or untrustworthy internet blogs and websites that may have vested economic interests in peddling alternate forms of treatments to further their interests. However, chemotherapy and radiation therapy have shown to be effective in treating cancer and saving lives and are evidence based.
Cancer treatment is expensive:
While some cancer treatments can be expensive, there are many affordable options available, including government-run hospitals and insurance coverage. As health awareness increases in society, the insurance coverage uptake also would be expected to increase which would ease the financial burden for the affected individual.
Cancer is caused by a single factor:
Many people believe that cancer is caused by one specific factor, such as unhealthy lifestyle habits or exposure to toxic substances. In reality, cancer is a complex disease that is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Cancer development is a complex interaction between the various environmental factors or extrinsic factors and genetic factors or intrinsic factors. Many of the environmental or extrinsic factors are modifiable in other words we can act on them to reduce our risks such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption, reducing the intake of processed meat etcetera.
Cancer is contagious
Although some cancers can be caused by viruses and bacteria, cancers themselves are not contagious and cannot be spread from one person to another by close contact. Cancer sufferers need compassion and support to help them get through difficult situations and the last thing they need is isolation. It is important to educate oneself and seek accurate information from credible sources to dispel these misconceptions and ensure that one receives the best possible treatment.
(Dr Dhanasekaran VK is Consultant. Radiation Oncology, KIMSHEALTH Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram)