Blood is made of various blood cells performing their specific functions. When the body starts producing a large number of immature blood cells, it results in blood cancer. These immature cells are unable to perform their function optimally, affecting normal bodily functioning. There are mainly three types of blood cancers:
Abnormal production of white blood cells in the bloodstream result in leukaemia.
It is bone marrow cancer affecting multiple sites at the same time, including the pelvis and spine.
It is a type of blood cancer that affects lymph glands and the lymphatic system.
Myths and facts about blood cancer
Many people believe in common myths about blood cancer, its causes and treatment. These blood cancer myths and misconceptions spread wrong information, hinder prevention methods, prevent people from getting proper treatment, and cause needless worry. This article provides the latest science-based information and facts to debunk the most common blood cancer myths.
Myth 1: Blood cancer patients must avoid taking sugar and meat when being treated
Fact: All cells need glucose (type of sugar) as fuel, including cancerous cells. However, no scientific proof exists that proves reducing or avoiding sugar from the diet can curb blood cancer and bone marrow cancer symptoms. But, eating a sugar-rich diet can cause obesity, which is linked to developing a certain type of cancer, but a no-sugar diet does not cure cancer.
It's the same case with eating meat. Meat is a protein which is essential to keep the body strong. When undergoing chemotherapy, the patient develops side effects such as nausea and vomiting. They lose their appetite to eat meat and hence avoid it. But it doesn't mean avoiding meat helps them in curing cancer.
Myth 2: Stage 4 blood cancer is deadly
Fact: Stage 4 blood cancer means cancer has spread from lymphatic organs to other organs of the body, including lungs, bones, liver, or bone marrow. At this stage, curing cancer is difficult. Although it depends upon many other factors such as age, patient's overall health, risk factors involved, type of cancer, and at which stage it is diagnosed. Cancer that is diagnosed as stage 4 has already spread and cannot be removed entirely. The treatment goal at this stage is to prolong survival and improve the quality of life.
Myth 3: You cannot live at home, work, or follow your daily routine when undergoing cancer treatment
Fact: Travelling to another location with a specialised medical centre may help with cancer treatment. But this is not always the case. Specialised cancer doctors can collaborate with a local doctor in the patient's hometown and start the treatment. It will allow the patient to stay close to family members and friends. Even in some cases, cancer patients can continue their work. But mostly, they prefer to take their time off and focus on their health. Moreover, every patient's condition and health status are different, so it is best to follow the advice of a doctor.
Myth 4: All blood cancer patients need a bone marrow transplant
Fact: Bone marrow transplant is not required in all cases. Patients are evaluated based on their diagnosis, genetic profile, disease progression, and response to treatment. After that, a cancer specialist doctor will decide whether the transplant is needed or not. Also, technological advancement has developed new targeted treatments with genetic profiling. They have proven effective in improving the treatment response in acute leukaemia patients.
Myth 5: Blood cancer occurs due to genetic reasons, and nothing can be done to prevent it
Fact: Not really. There is no guarantee that a person will develop blood cancer if they have all the genetic risk factors, including BRCA1 genes. However, a combination of genetic factors and an unhealthy lifestyle can increase the risk of cancer. If the focus is on adopting healthy lifestyle choices, the genetic risk reduces significantly.
Myth 6: Intake of vitamins and supplements can reduce the cancer risk
Fact: Many people believe in it because this statement is promoted and marketed by respective industries. However, there is not enough scientific data and studies to back the statement. It is best to consume whole grains and not rely on supplements to fulfil the body's demand for vitamins and minerals. Additionally, taking a high dose of vitamins and supplements can increase the risk of developing cancer in some types of blood cancers.
Myth 7: Blood cancer is incurable
Fact: Science has progressed in every field, including blood cancer treatment. It has increased the treatment success rate and the lifespan of cancer patients. Many new treatment modalities, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and bone marrow transplantation, have shown effective results. If blood cancer is diagnosed early, it can be treated and chances of survival increase.
Blood cancer can be frightening and stressful. It is paramount to banish blood cancer myths that further increase stress and complicate the treatment process. One should keep themselves updated with blood cancer facts and advancements in diagnosis and treatment to fight against the associated stigma.