This year for World Cancer Day the spotlight was cast on dispelling the four most common myths about cancer as identified by the Union for International Cancer Control1 (UICC).The life changing risks and implications of a family member being diagnosed with cancer are not fully understood by many people. The World Health Organisation,2 reports that some 7.2 million people each year worldwide do not survive a cancer diagnosis. According to the NCR Report some of the leading male cancers in South Africa are; prostate, lung, colorectal, oesophageal and bladder cancer.
We decoded some meaning behind each of the four myths for you. We have also given you an overview of dread disease cover as well as the financial protection you will need to manage the medical implications of serious illnesses, like cancer.
Myth 1: Cancer is merely a health issue.
The reality is that cancer has wide-reaching social, economic, development and human rights implications. The impact of cancer on entire populations is so large that it threatens to undermine the Millennium Development Goals of combating HIV, malaria and other diseases by 2015.3
According to the Cancer Association of South Africa,4 cancer is one of the main health concerns men face with 1 in 23 men being diagnosed with prostate cancer, which is the most common in South African men. Recent statistics show that black males are at an increased risk for prostate cancer. Generally, roughly 66 percent of the black men that are diagnosed with this dread disease survive at least five years – in comparison to 81 percent of white men with the same disease. This may be due to the fact that most men do not realise the severity of an illness, like cancer, especially the impact it can have on everything around you and how it dramatically changes your life.
In many cases, it has been shown that black men tend to be diagnosed at later stages5 after the cancer has grown. As a result, not only is your health and the general state of well-being affected, but in many cases so is your family life, your ability to work – which can directly affect your financial stability.
It therefore becomes imperative to utilise campaigns such as World Cancer Day to continue to create critical awareness of the risks, facts and treatment realities, amongst global and local governments, healthcare industries and civil society, alike.
Myth 2: Cancer only affects the wealthy, elderly and developed countries.
While cancer is certainly a global epidemic, prostate cancer is more common in Africans and less common in Asians, Americans or Europeans because of the differences in genetic makeup. Cancer of the prostate is usually slow growing, which means that most men will die with and not from prostate cancer.
Take the Ugandan Cancer Institute,6 for instance, the only treatment facility in a country of 33 million people. Dr Orem, who works at the institute was recently quoted saying that; "People think that malaria kills [and] other diseases are killing people from a low socio-economic status. But cancer is the same - it is a disease of the African person just like any other person elsewhere in the world”.
In knowing that most men are diagnosed at later stages when prostate or testicular cancer has already grown, according to the SA Statistics as per National Cancer Registry 2004,7 testicular cancer is liable for close to 1 percent of all cancer in men and is most common in males between the ages of 15 and 39 – so the realities today need to be addressed. As a result, it becomes so much more important to understand the risks of the disease and to be suitably covered against it. Many long-term insurers have acknowledged the societal risks that cancer and other serious dread diseases pose and now make dread disease cover, available as a stand-alone product, which is accessible and cost effective.
Myth 3: Cancer is a death sentence.
Early detection and undergoing the right treatment for cancer – in many cases - can improve your chances of survival. Having the right dread disease cover can therefore be life changing, as this kind of cover is designed to help with potential medical and/or lifestyle costs related to undergoing cancer treatment.
This kind of cover also provides you and your family with access to funds to cover living expenses, if you are unable to work while undergoing treatment. Imagine for a moment how your family would cope both financially and emotionally if you were diagnosed with prostate or testicular cancer today? Having something like dread disease cover provides you and your family with added financial security to get access to the right treatment as well as help support your family’s financial needs, if you are not able to work while undergoing treatment.
Myth 4: Cancer is my fate.
According to the World Cancer Day Org,8 prevention is the most cost-effective and sustainable way of reducing the cancer burden in the long-term. As a result, by incorporating healthy habits as part of your lifestyle, a third of the most common cancers can be prevented. These habits may include not smoking; not abusing alcohol and/or other substances; maintaining a healthy and nutritional diet and exercising regularly. While living a healthy lifestyle is no guarantee that you will never develop or be diagnosed with a dread disease, it is a step in the right direction and can reduce risks associated with such diseases.
Sometimes though, despite our best efforts to stay healthy we are all vulnerable to serious illnesses and dread diseases like cancer. Consider, for example, that in a recent study published by medical journal, Lancet, predicted that South Africa could see an increase of 78% in the number of cancer cases by 2030.9
A cancer diagnosis is something that no one wants to plan for, but sustaining your family’s quality of life is certainly worth planning for. And this takes serious financial consideration. Having the right dread disease cover in place will give you peace of mind, knowing that you are covered should the worst happen, whilst still being able to celebrate your life with your loved ones.
For more information on dread disease cover, please visit www.1life.co.za