In Health issues on Thursday 20th Aug, 2020

5 questions to see if you’re getting the right information about cancer

The internet can be a helpful source of information about cancer – as long as you stick to reputable resources such as the Cancer Institute NSW.

Between the headlines, countless websites and many well-meaning people offering advice – cancer can be confusing and confronting. Do you know where to go for the right information?

Learning about cancer can be daunting, whether you need information for yourself or you want to support a loved one. If you search online, you’ll find a huge amount but some of it is pretty frightening and it can be inaccurate too.

Meanwhile, almost everyone has an opinion about cancer, which means you might be bombarded with information that’s well-meaning but not right for you.

Having the right facts is vital, says Professor David Currow, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW.

Our quiz will help you get the right information, and show you where to go for the facts. Give it your best shot and read on for the answers.

  1. How many people will develop cancer at some stage of life?
  2. Which cancer is most common?
  3. Cancer is a terminal illness. True or false?
  4. Name five things people can do to reduce their cancer risk.
  5. Name the free cancer screening programs available in Australia.

Where can I find the right information?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing everything you read online. The truth, though, is that the internet contains health hoaxes, fake cures and deeply misleading information.

The fact is the majority of adults in NSW don’t feel they have a good understanding of how to find cancer early, identify cancer risk factors, or get information on cancer treatments and survival rates.

So where can you go for the right information?

Professor Currow says the internet can be a valuable tool for sourcing information, but it’s key to make sure you are looking at reputable websites. He recommends sources including the Cancer Institute NSW, Cancer Council Australia and the American Cancer Society.

“These are sites that have invested in the knowledge of professionals to ensure there’s really accurate information that’s up to date and will provide the best support for people newly diagnosed with cancer,” he explains.

As the cancer control agency for NSW, the Cancer Institute NSW’s website provides information that is driven by the latest cancer data and expert advice. Importantly, it is also local and relevant for people in Australia.

“Cancer myths are everywhere. We need to be clear that rather than debunking those myths, it’s better to go to really high-quality sources in the first place, because they can help people make well-informed decisions,” Professor Currow says.

Professor Currow says the right facts can help people detect cancer early when it can be more easily treated, or follow lifestyle tips that mean they reduce the risk of getting cancer at all.

Of course, the best person to speak to for personalised advice is always your doctor or health professional because they know your medical history and what’s right for you.

Here are the answers

Let’s see how you did. Knowing the answers to these questions is a good sign that you are accessing trustworthy information online, but it’s important to still always check.

More tips when searching for cancer information include always looking for the ‘About’ section of the website, checking the author of a piece and the date the page was published or updated, and making sure you read the full article rather than just a headline.

If you didn’t know all of the answers, don’t worry. We have sources to help you get the facts going forward.

How many people will develop cancer at some stage of life?

One in two people in NSW will develop cancer by the age of 85. In fact, age is the single biggest risk factor for developing cancer.

Understanding the basics of what cancer is can help people be prepared, manage a diagnosis or support a love one. You can read more here about how cancer starts in the body.

Which cancer is most common?

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in NSW, followed by breast cancer, melanoma, lung cancer and bowel cancer.

You can find up-to-date data that’s relevant to you on the major cancer types in NSW, including rates across different age groups, genders and locations.

Cancer is a terminal illness. True or false?

False – a cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Data show cancer survival rates in NSW have never been higher, and some cancers have a survival rate higher than 90 per cent. This is led by advances in treatment and care, but people can also improve their own outcomes by looking out for symptoms and taking part in cancer screening.

The Cancer Institute NSW has a wide range of information on the symptoms everyone should be aware of, as well as the free screening programs available to NSW residents.

Name five things people can do to reduce their cancer risk

There are cancer risk factors you can’t control, such as your genes and getting older. But it is important to know about the lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk, including:

  1. not smoking,
  2. not drinking alcohol (or reducing alcohol intake),
  3. eating healthy,
  4. getting regular exercise, and
  5. reducing sun exposure.

The Cancer Institute NSW has helpful tips on changes to help reduce your cancer risk.

Name the free cancer screening programs available in Australia

Australia has free screening programs for bowel cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer. Bowel and breast screening are recommended from age 50, while cervical screening is recommended from 25.

Finding cancer early makes a difference, and cancer screening can help detect pre-cancerous changes, or find cancers before there are any symptoms. Information on how to access these programs is available on the Cancer Institute NSW website.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

Cancer Institute NSW: Information you can trust

Find out what you can do to reduce your risk of cancer, or how you can find it early and get the best treatment and care. The Cancer Institute NSW is dedicated to reducing the impact of cancer and improving outcomes for people across the state.

See what we do

What resources do you rely on for health research? Are you sure you have your cancer facts correct?

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