Myths and Stigmas on Teens Cancers


What is a Myth?

A myth is a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events. A widely held but false belief or idea.

Cancer Myths

Black children/ adolescents do not get cancer

Fact - Not true, cancer does not discriminate it cuts across all races.

Only old people get cancer

Fact - Not true. In South Africa the are  1000 new childhood cancer diagnosis annually.

Only babies get leukaemia

Fact - Not true. It is the most common cancer in children aged 0 to 14years, but older teenagers and adults can get it too.  Research shows that 9 out of 10 leukaemia cases are diagnosed in adults.

Cancer is contagious and one can get it from kissing

Fact - Not true. Cancer is not contagious. You can catch the HPV virus through sex, though – and that’s linked to cervical cancer – so that’s another reason to practice safe sex.

A kick in the balls can cause cancer

Fact - Not true. A kick to your testicles might make you want to cry, but it won’t give you cancer. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 18-35, though, so check for lumps and get anything weird checked out.

You’re never really cured of cancer

Fact - Not true. After ten years in remission, you’re considered cured.

Survivor Myths- (adopted from Childhood Cancer International)

Childhood cancer survivors will have a miserable, sad and dismal future. They can never have a normal life.

Fact - Most childhood cancer survivors return to normal school life and activities after treatment. They effectively reintegrate with their family, friends and communities. In other cases, the survivor and their families adapt and modify their lifestyle to achieve the “new normal.”

Childhood cancer survivors have a short life.

Fact - International studies have shown that childhood cancer survivors are at increased risk for late effects and secondary cancers; however, reductions in life expectancy depend on: a) how timely the cancer diagnosis was; b) what the initial treatment was; and c) the appropriateness of the treatment received. The nature and severity of the subsequent late effects will also influence life expectancy. 

Childhood cancer survivors are socially challenged and generally have poor interpersonal and relational skills.

Fact - In most countries, during treatment, children/adolescents with cancer are separated from their peers and unable to engage in regular schooling and other activities. However, numerous studies have shown that as a consequence of the challenges they faced and their experiences, survivors tend to have better coping and increased resiliency. 

Childhood cancer survivors are unable to have children.

While some childhood cancer survivors may face fertility and reproductive health challenges, this is not the case (is not true) for the majority of childhood cancer survivors.

Childhood cancer survivors generally do poorly in school and during employment.

Fact - While research has revealed that two out of three childhood cancer survivors suffer from “late effects,” these late effects do not necessarily affect cognition and learning capacities. There are many inspiring stories around the world of childhood cancer survivors who are successful, high performing achievers and/or make noteworthy contributions to their communities, despite life-threatening or life-limiting conditions.

Stigma - Childhood Cancer Survivors will always carry the stigma of cancer in their adult life.

Many vocal childhood cancer survivors are looked up to and viewed as heroes and warriors who courageously overcame cancer. Childhood Cancer survivors are living proof and testimony that childhood cancer is curable. They are the best ambassadors to bring hope, motivate and inspire other survivors, new patients and their families.