Tag Archives: myths

Cancer: Myths & Facts


1. COLORECTAL (COLON) CANCER: The second leading cancer killer in the U.S.

With timely screening (a test to look for disease before symptoms occur… precancerous polyps may be discovered and removed), it is preventable!

Get screened if you are 50 years old or older, or earlier if you have a positive family history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.

2. GYNECOLOGIC CANCERS: Including cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, vulvar

All women are at risk and risk increases with age.

Of all the gynecologic cancers, only cervical cancer has a reliable screening test (i.e. the Pap test).

3. LUNG CANCER: The leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.

There are screening tests for lung cancer (i.e. x-ray machine which scans the lungs), but these tests are controversial and debated.

There is, however, no substitute for not smoking. For help quitting, call 1-800-QUIT NOW!

4. PROSTATE CANCER: The most common non-skin cancer among American men

Most men with prostate cancer are older than 65 years. As it is so slow-growing, most men do not die from the illness. Moreover, finding and treating prostate cancer before symptoms occur (ie testing the level of prostate specific antigen, PSA) may not improve your health or help you live longer.

Ask your doctor if a PSA screen is indicated.

5. SKIN CANCER: The most common cancer in the U.S.

Most cases of melanoma (deadliest form of skin cancer) are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

To lower your risk:

  • Stay, midday, in the shade and wear protective clothing.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses.
  • Use SPF 15 or greater sunscreen.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

Screening for skin cancer involves regular total-body examinations by a skin doctor (dermatologist). Suspicious lesions are biopsied to determine if cancerous or precancerous cells are present.

6. BREAST CANCER: The most common cancer in American women, excluding skin cancer

Getting regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. Average-risk women age 50 to 74 years should receive a screening mammogram every two years. For women age 40 to 49 years, ask your doctor when to have a screening mammogram.

Depression in the Elderly


  1. Depression is not a normal part of aging, although older adults are at an increased risk for experiencing depression.
  2. Depression is not just having “the blues” or having emotions related to major life events (e.g. mourning over the loss of a loved one, retirement, etc.).
  3. Older adults often do not seek help for this condition, and providers often misdiagnose and undertreat depression.


Depression is a true medical condition (like diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure) that can be properly diagnosed and effectively treated.

Think DEPRESSION when one or more of the following are present:

  • feelings of sadness and anxiety lasting for weeks at a time
  • feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, and/or irritability
  • loss of interest in activities once pleasurable
  • fatigue and decreased energy
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • sleeping difficulties, including early-morning
  • wakefulness and excessive sleeping
  • overeating or loss of appetite
  • thought or attempts at suicide
  • unexplained aches and pains, including headaches, digestive problems, abdominal cramps, muscle soreness, etc.


Although it is estimated that about 1-5% of the elderly living in the community are depressed, this figure dramatically rises to 12% in those requiring home or hospital health care.


There are a number of excellent websites, including:

If you are concerned about a loved one, offer to go with him or her to see a health care provider to be diagnosed and treated. If he/she is in “crisis,” immediately call 911 or visit a nearby hospital’s emergency department.