Stacy Byone

When seeking information on cancer, advice from the internet or family and friends can be misleading. There are many myths about cancer, making it crucial that individuals seek reputable medical information.

Once treatment ends, you are completely done with cancer.

False. Once a patient finishes treatment, they must still follow up with their oncologist for regular screenings. At the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center, patients are given personalized survivorship care plans to manage their care.

Cancer surgery and biopsies cause cancer to spread throughout the body.

False. Some patients may worry that during a biopsy or surgery, displaced cancer cells will spread to other areas. However, a 2015 Mayo Clinic study revealed that biopsies using fine needle aspiration (FNA) helped patients have better outcomes and longer survival.

Only women can get breast cancer.

False. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020, about 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men in the U.S. Notify a doctor immediately if any lumps are found around the breast tissue, neck or underarm region.

Having a family history of cancer means you will get cancer.

Not entirely true. A family history of cancer can be caused for varying reasons. Certain behaviors that increase risk for cancer, such as smoking and an unhealthy diet, can be shared among family members — leading to higher incidences of cancer.

Inherited gene mutations also can cause several types of cancer to occur among relatives, including hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, and Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer). At the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, individuals can assess their risk for cancer with comprehensive cancer genetic counseling and assessment.

Only the sun causes skin cancer.

False. The three types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma – can appear on areas of the skin that have been exposed or unexposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Other factors, such as being exposed to toxic substances or having a condition that weakens your immune system, can contribute to skin cancer.

Only people who smoke cigarettes get lung cancer.

False. Though smoking dramatically increases risk for lung cancer, exposure to radon, secondhand smoke, asbestos and air pollution also are risk factors.

Cell phones, laptops and microwaves cause cancer.

Evidence is inconclusive. Though electronic devices and microwaves emit radiofrequency (RF) radiation, it’s low-energy and therefore cannot directly damage DNA. In studies conducted by the National Cancer Institute, a link between radiofrequency radiation exposure and cancer occurrence was unsupported.

Microwaving plastics causes cancer.

Not entirely true. Certain plastic containers containing BPA or phthalates can be harmful when these chemicals have seeped into food. It’s recommended that only containers labeled as “microwave-safe” are heated in the microwave.

UV light nail dryers cause cancer.

Evidence is inconclusive. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that the level of UV radiation from nail curing lamps is generally low and does not pose a significant risk to skin health.

Artificial sweeteners cause cancer.

Evidence is inconclusive. The FDA has conducted multiple studies on the potential risks associated with artificial sweeteners — which have proved inconclusive. However, it’s recommended that artificial sweeteners are consumed in moderation, as they are heavily processed additives.  

At the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, expert care teams provide comprehensive cancer care for patients and their families – including risk assessment, early diagnosis, treatment and education. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, patients receive innovative and personalized care at every stage of their journey.