top of page
  • Marine Lingrand

MYTHs and FACTs about cancers

Everyone knows, has known or will know someone who has cancer. Over the past few decades, science has made enormous progress in treating cancers as well as in prolonging the survival of patients. However, with their share of misconceptions, these deadly diseases continue to be a taboo and can be scary. The most common misconceptions surrounding cancer mainly concern lifestyles such as tobacco, alcohol, or the sun, which are known to increase the risk of cancer. In this article, let's discuss interesting facts about cancers while demystifying some preconceived ideas about them.



1.     Whether I am a man or a woman, I have the same risk of developing a cancer.


FACT!  In Canada, the risk of cancer in men is just slightly higher. Some tumors develop preferentially in one sex or the other. Men are more likely to have cancers of the neck and head, as well as the throat, lung, or esophagus. On the other hand, thyroid cancers are more common in women. In 2022, 121,100 men in Canada were be diagnosed with cancer compared to 112,800 women.


2.     Men cannot develop breast cancer.


MYTH!  Men can develop breast cancer. However, less than 1% of all breast cancers affect men, which remains very rare.


3.     Men have greater risk of developing melanoma (the most fatal skin cancer that develops in the cells that pigment the skin) because they don't wear sunscreen.


MYTH! For a long time, scientists thought that men were diagnosed with skin cancer more often because they didn't wear sunscreen or did not go to the doctor as frequently as women. Even if men and women have identical follow-up, the results of a clinical study show that men are more at risk of developing melanoma.


4.     I can't have cancer if no one in my family has ever had a cancer.


MYTH! Although there are hereditary cancers, only 5 to 10% of all cancers are hereditary. Most of the time cancer are caused by mutations associated with risk factors such as exposure to the sun, nutrition, tobacco, alcohol, etc.



5.     There are dogs trained to help diagnose cancer.


FACT!  There are dogs that are trained to detect colorectal cancer from breath and liquid stools, even for early-stage cancers. Dogs can also detect lung cancer from a patient's breath. Nowadays, dogs are also trained to detect breast cancers. In 2021, researchers reported that a dog trained to detect signs of breast cancer in urine was able to detect breast cancer with 100% accuracy among urine samples from 200 people


6.     I can’t get lung cancer since I've never smoked in my life.


MYTH! Non-smokers may have genetic mutations (changes in DNA) that lead to the formation of a tumor. However, being a smoker greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer. It also increases the risk of developing cancer of the pancreas, stomach, ovaries, and breast.


7.     Women cannot get prostate cancer.


FACT! Women do not have a prostate. Therefore, they cannot develop cancer associated with this organ. On the other hand, they have Skene glands, often associated with the G-spot, which are the equivalent of the prostate in men. These glands are located between the vagina and throughout the urethra, they are responsible for producing the liquid released during orgasm. The development of a tumor of these glands is very rare and the diagnosis difficult.


8.     The job I do can play a role in my risk of developing cancer.


FACT! The professions we practice expose us to different risk factors. People who work outdoors, such as farmers, are at greater risk of developing skin cancer from exposure to the sun. In the same way, professions with exposure to chemicals, ionizing radiation, tar, or asbestos have a greater risk of developing respiratory tract cancers. Finally, studies have shown the impact of stress and night shifts in the development of certain cancers, but further studies are underway to better understand these risk factors.



Overall, cancers are present in our daily lives, and even if researchers and doctors are making progress every day to better detect and treat them, it remains a taboo topic. However, for the purposes of prevention and diagnosis, it is important to learn about our health and to counter misinformation about various pathologies, including cancers. To learn more about all types of cancer, statistics in Canada, risk factors or available treatments, you will find a lot of information at




(1) Haupt et al, Nature reviews cancer, 2021 April ;

(2) Fox et al, Virchows Arch, 2022 Jan ; (

(3) Joosse, A. et al., J Clin Oncol , 2012 ; Joosse, A., et al. J Clin Oncol, 2013 ;

(5) Montes et al, Eur J Cardiothorac Surg, 2017 Dec ;

(6) Rivera et al., Adv Exp Med Biol , 2016 ;

(7) Dodson MK, et al., Gynecol Oncol, 1994 Nov ;

(8) Yousef et al, scientific reports, 2020 feb ; Schernhammer et al, Am J Epidemiol, 2013 Nov


34 views0 comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page