Posted on February 03, 2014

Today is World Cancer Day and, this year, the theme is ‘debunk the myths’. There are a number of common misconceptions about cancer and the aim is to help people understand the facts, so they can minimize their risk of getting cancer, understand signs and symptoms and find the support they need.

The first myth is ‘We don’t need to talk about cancer’. Even though there are many people affected by cancer, it can still be a taboo topic to discuss and is often stigmatized. But it is very important to talk about cancer, as it helps to increase awareness and understanding and support people living with cancer today.

Patricia Upton is a British school teacher residing in Qatar. On 9 January 2013, her doctor at Hamad General Hospital Breast Unit, part of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), told Patricia that she had early stages of breast cancer. She clearly remembers the day doctors told her they had found cancerous cells in her body.

“The two tests I was prescribed showed negative results, but my Radiologist, Dr. Essam, insisted I had a biopsy to be 100% sure. The biopsy results were positive, and confirmed that I had a small tumor that hadn’t shown up in the mammogram. The news was terribly daunting.”

Two weeks later, she was scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy following immediate reconstruction. However, Patricia feels lucky to have been diagnosed in Qatar; her doctors at Hamad General Hospital Breast Unit were experienced and comforting and she received high quality treatment right from diagnosis.

“My team of doctors at Hamad General Hospital and NCCCR, including Dr. Ambika and my Clinical Nurse Specialist, Cathie, made me feel safe and cared for. They were very supportive and are invested in the health of every person they see. To receive such personalized, high quality medical treatment in Qatar shows the level of commitment that Hamad Medical Corporation has in providing safe and effective medical care”, she explained.

Qatar Airways now flies daily to Zagreb, Croatia

Cathie McKirdy, an Advanced Clinical Nurse Specialist for breast cancer patients, remembers how upsetting Patricia found the news that she had cancer and explained that Patricia was not alone in this.

“It is always a shock to receive a diagnosis of cancer; you never think it will happen to you. Patricia was very upset and this is understandable. She needed support and thankfully there is a team of highly dedicated healthcare professionals working in cancer care across HMC and we work together to ensure every patient gets the best possible outcome.

“The myths being highlighted this World Cancer Day can be dangerous and I think it is important that everyone takes some time today to get to know the facts about cancer,” she continued, “Cancer can affect anyone; however, I am glad that, when someone receives this frightening diagnosis, the team at HMC is there to support them.”

The myths for World Cancer Day 2014 are:

  1. We don’t need to talk about cancer
  2. Cancer…there are no signs or symptoms
  3. There is nothing I can do about cancer
  4. I don’t have the right to cancer care

None of these statements are entirely true. For the first myth; talking about cancer means better understanding and better social acceptance of the disease, therefore it is necessary. For the second myth; there are signs and symptoms of many cancers and awareness of these can help save lives, as early stage cancer is a lot more treatable. For the third myth; cancer is indiscriminate so you can never be immune to it, but there are plenty of ways to reduce the risk, for example, by eating healthily, taking regular exercise and avoiding tobacco products. And to address the fourth and final myth; in Qatar everyone has the right to cancer care.

For more information about these cancer myths, please visit the World Cancer Day website: