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5 brain cancer myths, busted

4 minute read
Woman sitting on couch with family member sitting with her

It’s one of the least understood and most understudied cancers, so when it comes to brain cancer, it’s no surprise that there’s a few myths going around. We partnered with the team from the Mark Hughes Foundation to clear up the some of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to this deadly disease – and you might be surprised by the results!

Myth 1: Mobile phones cause brain cancer

For most of us, our mobile phone is like an extra limb – it follows us to the office, out on dinner dates, and even sleeps beside us ready to wake us with an alarm. So it will likely come as a relief to myth-bust the ‘mobile phone and cancer link’. In fact, an Aussie study published in the British Medical Journal Open looked into whether mobile phone use had any impact on brain cancer and found that although mobile phone usage has risen over the last decade or so, there has been no increase in brain tumour types.

Myth 2: Artificial sweeteners can cause brain tumours

If you’ve ever sipped a diet soda, your tastebuds were probably hit with the saccharine taste of artificial sweeteners. So is it true that something so sweet could be a risk factor for brain cancer? Thankfully, the evidence says ‘no’. This myth started because there were studies that showed a link between high-dose artificial sweetener use and cancer in animals; however, there’s no evidence that can support such a link in humans.

Myth 3: We know why people develop brain cancer

One of the reasons that brain cancer is so hard to prevent and treat is that doctors don’t have a clear understanding of why people develop it in the first place. What we do know is that tumours are more common in people with genetic conditions or those who are exposed to very high doses of radiation, but for the majority of brain cancer patients, the cause is unknown.

Young man receiving chemotherapy treatment in a hospital

Myth 4: There’s a cure for brain cancer

Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for brain cancer. But there are treatment options to help relieve the symptoms, including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other drug therapies. When it comes to treatment, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach and it will come down to factors like patient age, health, tumour type and how the individual reacts to certain medications.

Trying to differentiate between treatments can be overwhelming for someone diagnosed with brain cancer, which is why the Mark Hughes Foundation provides funding for a specialist brain cancer care coordinator in the Hunter region. This care coordinator helps brain cancer patients navigate appointments, provides advice and finds support groups and clinical trials – and is a shoulder to lean on during what is an extremely stressful time. The Foundation’s goal is to expand this program and to have a care coordinator for every brain cancer patient across the country.

Myth 5: Brain cancer only affects older people

Many of us picture a brain cancer patient as someone older, but the fact is that brain cancer is the biggest cause of cancer death in children and adults under 40. However, there is hope, with clinical trials and new drugs being tested across Australia, something the Mark Hughes Foundation are passionate about funding. To find out more about the search for a brain cancer cure, check out our video interview with medical and radiation oncologist, Dr Mike Fay.

To find out more about the work that the Foundation is doing, or to donate, head to the Mark Hughes Foundation website.

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