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Get the Truth about Cancer – World Cancer Day (4 Feb)

World Cancer Day - 4 February 2014

World Cancer Day – 4 February 2014

Afrikaanse Persverklaring

23 January 2014: Tuesday, 4 February 2014, marks World Cancer Day and CANSA is using this day of awareness to highlight and tackle common cancer myths.

Each year, 14 million people learn they have cancer and in SA, 1 in 4 people are affected by cancer. This is something we should all talk about to help challenge negative beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate myths, cause fear and stigma, preventing people from seeking early detection and treatment, as well as declining vaccination.

Cancer knows no prejudice and affects people of any age, race, creed, gender and economic status – the most powerful weapon when faced with the disease, is education and knowledge. CANSA is focussing on four common cancer myths, as well as providing the facts on each:

View CANSA’s slideshow – World Cancer Day:

or download pdf version.

Myth 1: We Don’t Need to Talk About Cancer


Cancer can be a difficult topic to address, particularly in some cultures and settings, however, dealing with the disease openly can improve outcomes at an individual, community and policy level.  For most people, a diagnosis of cancer is a life-changing event commonly evoking feelings of shock, fear, anger, sadness, loneliness and anxiety. When someone has cancer, talking about cancer to partners, family members, friends and colleagues can help alleviate these feelings. Investing in the prevention and early detection of cancer is cheaper and more effective than dealing with the consequences of the disease. Read more…

CANSA has various active support groups that connect patients, survivors and their loved ones with others who have ‘been there’ for insight, moral support understanding, hope and inspiration. Contact your local CANSA Care Centre for details or join other ‘cancer survivors’ (anyone who has heard the words “you have cancer”), on our Champions of Hope Facebook Group.

Myth 2: There Are No Signs or Symptoms of Cancer


For many cancers, there are warning signs and symptoms, while the benefits of early detection are beyond doubt.  “It’s important to know and recognise the general signs and symptoms for cancer.

While some symptoms might be caused by another health problem, if you notice one or more symptoms or if the symptoms persist, go see a health professional without delay, ” adds Janse van Rensburg.   Get to know the adult and childhood cancer warning signs here…

Myth 3: There Is Nothing I Can Do About Cancer


Cancer can be prevented and treated more effectively if diagnosed early and it’s vital to be aware of risk factors and ways to reduce the cancer risk. It all starts with making smart lifestyle choices:

  • Lead a balanced lifestyle whether at work or at home – protect and promote health
  • Eat a healthy diet – healthy choices will help reduce the cancer risk such as eating plenty of vegetables and fresh fruit in season; limit fat intake; avoid or limit alcohol; cut down on salt; reduce sugar intake and include sources of omega-3 in your diet; maintain a healthy weight and be active to assist in lowering the risk for various types of cancer
  • Protect your skin – skin cancer is the most common caused by the harmful UV rays of the sun.
  • Make Smart Choices – the CANSA Seal of Recognition encourages everyone to read product labels and make informed choices
  • Avoid risky behaviours that can lead to infections which, in turn, might increase the cancer risk
  • Don’t use tobacco products – a common myth is that smoking hubbly bubbly (water pipes) is less harmful than smoking cigarettes – the truth is that it’s more harmful.
  • Get vaccinated against cancer causing viruses, namely Hepatitis B which causes mainly primary cancer of the liver, as well as the Human Papilloma virus which causes mainly cervical cancer.  The incidence of infectious cancers (mainly caused by different viruses, is as high as 20% in Africa.)
  • Get regular medical care and do self-examinations to increase chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask a doctor about the best cancer screening available. CANSA offers a variety of screenings at our CANSA Care Centres & Mobile Health Units countrywide – read more about self-examinations for men & women…

Myth 4: I Don’t have the right to cancer care


The Constitution of South Africa (Bill of Rights) guarantees all people the right to access proven and effective cancer treatments and services on equal terms and without suffering hardship as a consequence – however, the right to health and health care is a derogable (non-guaranteed), meaning that it is dependent on whether the State can afford such therapy.

Tertiary hospitals in South Africa have specialised oncology units, while most cancer treatment are also available at secondary hospitals. The State included Hepatitis B and recently the HPV vaccination as part of its Expanded Programme of Immunisation. In the private sector, most Medical Aid organisations provide special managed oncology care programmes to its members, while private Hospitals may provide oncology services. Read more…

Janse van Rensburg concludes, “Our CANSA Care Centres country-wide offer a comprehensive prevention, care and support programme for cancer survivors, loved one and caregivers.” Read more…

Make sure you “Get the truth about cancer” –  there are many myths and half truths about cancer readily available on the internet and elsewhere – what should you as a member of the public believe? Find more cancer myths debunked here…


Read more…

Queries CANSA

Read more about cancer myths and facts here or contact CANSA toll-free at 0800 22 66 22. You can also email if you have any additional queries or if you require more evidence-based information on these or other topics.

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 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans (text only)
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