Cancer cases are increasing globally, and it presents a major challenge for entire humanity. Cancer creates significant challenges for families at both emotional and financial level. However, there’s some hope, as the number of people dying from cancer has been reducing over the years. Thanks to new treatment approaches, cancer death rate has fallen in developed countries.
As people don’t have adequate knowledge about the disease, there are various myths associated with cancer. One common question that people often ask is whether cancer is communicable. To answer that question, here are some facts that you need to know.
Cancer does not spread through touch: As a family member, friend or caregiver, you can be rest assured that cancer does not spread through touch. You can spend as much time with cancer patients without worrying about getting cancer yourself. Cancer does not spread by holding hands, kissing, or having sex.
People with organ transplant can get cancer: There have been cases where people who received an organ from a cancer patient were diagnosed with cancer at a later date. Such cases are quite rare though. Moreover, it is believed that such people get cancer because of immunosuppressive drugs that weaken the immune system.
Cancer from mother to child: Cancer usually does not spread from a pregnant woman to her child. Cancer may spread to the placenta, but the fetus is not affected directly in most cases. Only in rarest of rare cases, specific types of cancers such as melanoma have been noticed to spread to the fetus.
Germs and cancer risk: Certain viruses and bacteria are known to be associated with increased risk of cancers. Some examples are given below.
- Human papilloma viruses (HPVs): Some types of HPVs are associated with cancers of the vagina, vulva, cervix, anus, penis, head, neck, mouth and throat. However, other factors may also be responsible.
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): This has been found in people diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, lymphoma of the stomach, and nose and throat (nasopharyngeal) cancer.
- Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV): These are linked to increased risk of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
- Human herpes virus Type 8 (HHV-8): This has been associated with a specific type of cancer known as Kaposi sarcoma. The risks are higher if the patient also has human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Human T-lymphotropic virus-1 (HTLV-1): This has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and specific types of lymphocytic leukemia.
- Helicobacter pylori: This bacterium is known to damage the lining of the stomach, which in turn increases the risk of stomach cancer.
Overall, it is understood that cancer is NOT communicable. So, you should not be afraid if you are taking care of a cancer patient. Love and care is known to be beneficial for cancer patients and it is likely to increase their chances of survival.