Some Common Myths about cancer


It is estimated that one in seven women in South Africa will get skin cancer …

Here are some common myths about cancer.

It is impossible to prevent cancer

Professor Michael Herbst, head of health for the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) says that, although 60 percent of cancers may not be preventable, it means that 40 percent are.

Cancer risk can be reduced by going for routine screenings, avoiding tobacco, excess alcohol and sunburn, exercising and eating healthily. Young girls who are reaching puberty can be given a human pappillovirus vaccine to protect them against cervical cancer.

Cancer is a death sentence

Dr Duvern Ramiah, a specialist radiation oncologist at Life Fourways Hospital in Johannesburg, says that cancer is ‘becoming increasingly manageable’ due to breakthroughs in prevention, early diagnosis and more specific treatments. It is still however a very serious disease and can be fatal in some cases.

Professor Herbst says that approximately 60 percent of childhood cancer cases and about 40 percent of adult cases are successfully treated.

Skin cancer only affects white skins

Anyone can get skin cancer but it is more common in people with pale complexions which have less protective melanin.

Be sure to wear sunscreen daily and avoid being exposed during the hottest hours of the day. Remember you can also protect your skin by wearing glasses, a hat or even using a sunshade.

Young women do not get breast cancer

This is not true as there is an increase in the number of women who have been diagnosed with cancer in their 20s.


It is advocated in some countries that all women should have a mammogram done once they turn 35 years of age. Thereafter a mammogram should be done every three years.

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