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Cancer Stigma

Let’s face it, cancer is generally viewed in a very negative way. Despite all of the medical advancements in cancer treatment, most people still associate it with severe illness or death, and are uncomfortable talking about it.

This can create stress and shame for those diagnosed with cancer and may prevent them from telling others about their diagnosis.

Studies have shown that the more communication provided by doctors to their patients about their cancer diagnosis, the less the patient will suffer from stigmas. 

One study conducted in 2019, showed that cancer stigma contributes to depression and a negative outlook in people with cancer.  

Certain types of cancer hold greater stigma than others. For example, lung cancer is always thought to be caused by smoking cigarettes. Cervical cancer is directly linked to HPV or other STIs. And colorectal cancer is often thought to be caused from obesity or poor dietary habits.

So how do we squash cancer stigma?
 
Prevention, education, and awareness!

With more screening programs and education around cancer, there would be less deaths and greater rates of cure.

For example, if there were more education around the importance of self breast exams and regular pap tests, breast and cervical cancer could be diagnosed at an earlier stage, rather than a later stage for many women.   

We also need to encourage cancer survivors to share their experiences with cancer and help spread awareness, in hopes that one day cancer won’t be thought of as a serious illness, but rather a curable one.