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More hope, says Cancer Society

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013

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Cancer is not the death sentence it once was, the Cancer Society says.

The mortality rate has in fact been steadily decreasing with a 16 per cent drop in the decade up to 2009.

World Cancer Day on February 4 kick started the latest Cancer Society campaign to debunk the many myths surrounding cancer.

Chief executive of Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand Pru Etcheverry says it is an opportunity to reduce the fear associated with cancer and to bring more factual information to the fore.

"Some of the myths can be frightening, especially to someone newly diagnosed. They can also be harmful, for example ‘cancer is my fate'. People who may take this approach often suffer unnecessarily when they have access to effective and quality cancer services in New Zealand that enable early diagnosis and appropriate treatment and care."

Some of the more commonly held myths include the belief that most breast cancer is hereditary. Whereas just five to 10 per cent of cases are due to hereditary factors.

It may also surprise some to know that darker skin is not necessarily a protection against melanoma and that women have a high death rate from bowel cancer.

Improvements in treatment and early diagnosis have led to better survival rates.

The society says it is becoming more of a chronic disease.

The most common cancers in New Zealand according to the Ministry of Health are prostate cancer followed by colorectal and breast cancer.

Lung cancer causes the most deaths at 19 per cent of all cancer fatalities.

See cancernz.org.nz.

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- North Shore Times

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