4 common myths about cancer


According to the World Health Organisation, cancer takes the lives of some 7.2 million people each year worldwide. Sadly, many people don’t understand the risks or implications of what a cancer diagnosis can have on their lives. For World Cancer Day 2013 the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) focused on dispelling four of the most common myths about cancer.

Laurence Hillman, managing director of 1Life, takes a look at these four myths and decodes some meaning behind each of them. He also gives an overview of dread disease cover, the financial protection you need against serious illnesses such as cancer. 

Myth 1: cancer is merely a health issue

In actual fact, cancer has wide-reaching social, economic, development and human rights implications. For instance, you probably didn’t know that the impact of cancer on entire populations is so large it threatens to undermine the Millennium Development Goals of combating HIV, malaria and other diseases by 2015.

Generally people who have not had to face a dread disease or had someone close to them be diagnosed with one – don’t realise that serious illnesses like cancer impacts everything around you and can dramatically change your life. These “aftershocks” and the impact of these are only truly understood when you experience them first hand. Not only is your health and general state of well-being affected, but in many cases so is your family life, your ability to work (in severe cases) and with that your financial stability.

It therefore becomes imperative to utilise campaigns such as World Cancer Day to continue to create critical awareness of the risks, facts and treatment realities, amongst global and local governments, healthcare industries and civil society, alike.

Myth 2: cancer only affects the wealthy, elderly and developed countries

While cancer is certainly a global epidemic, the truth is cancer affects the most vulnerable and is a major burden for the world’s poor where over 70% of all global cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries3.

Take the Ugandan Cancer Institute, for instance, the only treatment facility in a country of 33 million people. Dr Orem, who works at the institute was recently quoted saying that; "People think that malaria kills [and] other diseases are killing people from a low socio-economic status. But cancer is the same - it is a disease of the African person just like any other person elsewhere in the world”.

In knowing that anyone may be diagnosed with some form of cancer at any time, it becomes so much more important to understanding the risks of the disease and to be properly covered against it. Many long-term insurers have acknowledged the societal risks that cancer and other serious dread diseases pose and now make dread disease cover available as a stand-alone product that is accessible and cost effective.

Myth 3: cancer is a death sentence

Early detection and undergoing the right treatment for cancer – in many cases - can improve your chances of survival.Having the right dread disease cover can therefore be life changing, as this kind of cover is designed to help with potential medical and/or lifestyle costs related to undergoing cancer treatment. 

This kind of cover also provides you or your family with access to funds to cover living expenses, if you are unable to work while undergoing treatment. Imagine for a moment how your family would cope both financially and emotionally if you were diagnosed with cancer today? Having something like dread disease cover provides you and your family with added financial security to get the right treatment as well as help support your family’s financial needs, if you weren’t able to work while undergoing treatment.

Myth 4: cancer is my fate

According to the UICC, prevention is the most cost-effective and sustainable way of reducing the cancer burden in the long-term and by incorporating good and healthy habits as part of your lifestyle, a third of the most common cancers can be prevented. These habits may include not smoking, not abusing alcohol and/or other substances, maintaining a healthy and nutritional diet and exercising regularly. While living a healthy lifestyle is no guarantee that you will never develop or be diagnosed with a dread disease, it is a step in the right direction and can reduce risks associated with such diseases.

Sometimes though, despite our best efforts to stay healthy we are all vulnerable to serious illnesses and dread diseases like cancer. Consider, for example, that one in six South African men and one in seven South African women will get cancer during their lives and a recent study published by medical journal Lancet that predicts that South Africa could see an increase of 78% in the number of cancer cases by 2030.

A cancer diagnosis is something that no one wants to plan for, but sustaining your family’s quality of life is worth planning for, which takes serious financial consideration. Having the right dread disease cover in place will give you peace of mind, knowing that you are covered should the worst happen, whilst still being able to celebrate your life with your loved ones.

For more information on dread disease cover, please visit www.1lifedirect.co.za.

 (1Life press release)

- (Health24, February 2013)

Read more:

Critical illness: what can you do to protect yourself? 

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