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UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Cancer Facts & Myths
Ally Postlethwait RN, BSN,OCN
Nurse Navigator, Head and Neck Oncology
Source: American Cancer Society, 2012.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease
where cells grow
out of control &
invade, erode &
destroy normal
How Does Cancer Spread?
• All cancers start because abnormal
cells grow out of control.
• Cancer is the general name of more
than 100 diseases
• There are over 200 different cancers
that can occur anywhere in the body.
What is a Tumor?
• Benign Tumors
• Malignant Tumors
• Metastatic Disease
What are the most common
• Breast
• Lung
• Colo-Rectal
• GI
How is Cancer Treated?
Watch and wait
Radiation Therapy
Stem cell transplant
Hormonal therapy
Is Cancer a Death Sentence?
• 5 year survival now extends 90%
• Many factors include staging at time of
• Overall health is important
• Effective treatments available
True or False?
• If you get cancer it’s usually because
someone in your family had cancer?
Answer: False. Half of men and onethird of women in the US will get cancer at
some point. But only about 1 in 20 cases
is linked to gene from parents.
True or False?
• Heavy drinking can raise your chances
of getting cancer?
Answer: True
Drinking alcohol may make you more
likely to get mouth, liver, colon, breast,
and other cancers. The more you drink,
the higher your risk.
True or False?
• Artificial sweeteners can cause cancer.
• Answer: False
There’s no evidence that the sweeteners
in those little pink, blue, yellow or green
packets cause cancer.
True or False?
• Antiperspirants make you more likely to
get breast cancer.
Answer: False. There are no strong
studies and very little evidence to show
that you have greater chance of getting
breast cancer if you use deodorant.
Which food is linked to colon
• Tofu
• Lunchmeat
• Oysters
Answer: Lunchmeat. People who eat a
lot of processed meats such as hotdogs
and lunchmeat are more likely to get
colon cancer because of the nitrates.
Which of these may help ease
nausea in people getting cancer
• Acupuncture
• Ear candling
• Magnetic therapy
Answer: Acupuncture can help with
nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.
It can also help with mouth dryness.
For most cancers, a biopsy can
cause cancer cells to spread?
Answer: False
During a biopsy, a doctor takes a small
sample of tissue from your body to check
it for cancer. With most cancers, it’s very
unlikely that this procedure will cause
cancer to spread.
What can you do to lower your
chance of getting cancer?
• Avoid stress
• Nothing
• Exercise
Answer: Exercise, along with healthy
eating and weight control can make you
less likely to get certain cancers including
breast and colon.
Other Facts or Myths
• Will eating sugar
make my cancer
• Is cancer contagious
• Do cell phones
cause cancer?
• Does hair dye cause
• Does the ingredient
sodium lauryl sulfate
pose a cancer risk
to shampoo users?
What Causes Cancer?
Genetic mutation
Exposure to the sun
Immunity disorders
Exposure to chemicals/radiation
Viruses (HPV, EBV, HIV)
Can Cancer Be Prevented?
Not using tobacco products
Choosing foods with less fat
Regular exercise
Wear sunscreen
Be aware of risk factors
Early detection
Treating Patients with All Types of Cancer
The N.C. Cancer Hospital