My latest quarterly probing with the consultant has passed without panic: all is well, to the point where future meetings are to be 4-monthly. I was seen by Mr. McRae, the consultant I originally met with; the one who passed on my diagnosis over two years ago. He’s pleased with the way things are progressing but stresses that it’s still a five-year wait, though the likelihood of reoccurrence is much smaller after two years – and that deadline is pretty close.
There are a number of cancer scare stories being foisted on the public by the press on an almost daily basis, and one UK newspaper seems to publish them more often than some (you can probably guess which one). Here are a few, and as someone who loves to eat fish, the first two caught my eye:
New salmon cancer scare The Scottish salmon farming industry faces a sales ban and fines after traces of a cancer-risk chemical was discovered in the fish.
Malachite green, a cheap disinfectant treatment for eggs and young fish, was banned in June 2002 but traces of the chemical are still being found in up to 19 per cent of farmed salmon.
The industry is still reeling from a U.S. study published last week, suggesting people should not eat Scottish farmed salmon more than three times a year.
Fish cancer scare Experts fear people who eat fish from waters contaminated by a radioactive pollutant discharged by nuclear plants and factories are at a greater risk of developing cancer than was previously thought.
The health risk from exposure to tritium remains low since doses are still within international safety limits. But scientists are concerned that people who eat fish from waters contaminated by tritium may have received much higher levels of radiation than had been estimated before, according to a report in New Scientist magazine.
Breast implants in cancer scare Women with breast implants are up to three times more likely to die from lung or brain cancer than those without, it was reported today.
The findings come after a long-running US study of 13,500 women who received breast implants, comparing their risk of dying from cancer with the general population and other people who had undergone plastic surgery.
And the study found that women with saline implants suffered the same higher rates of lung and brain cancer as those with controversial silicone implants.
It found they were twice as likely to die of brain cancer and three times as likely to be killed by respiratory diseases, with lung cancer the biggest of those killers.
Apart from the need to point fingers at those who produce the food we eat and address issues surrounding cosmetic surgery (then hold the perpetrators to account), the general tone doesn’t necessarily provide a balanced and objective viewpoint. So are they just scare stories? Articles like these are the cause of genuine concern and panic among those worried about cancer, so what should we actually believe, and how much should we be concerned? There are people who believe that ‘all food causes cancer’ (fill yer boots with articles on the web), and those who swear that certain foodstuffs contain miracle cures (see more details here), but who should we look to for clear and accurate guidance? Are we letting articles like the ones above cloud our judgement?
Having had a go at the press, it still pains me that thousands of people in the UK die unnecessarily because they are too scared to mention early symptoms of cancer to either family members or their doctor. A recent survey of 2,000 for Cancer Research UK suggests 40% might delay getting symptoms checked out because they are worried what the doctor might find, yet early diagnosis is key to treating cancer successfully. Once you’ve devoured the mountain of ‘information’ out there, your first point of call should be your GP if you have any concern regarding cancer: do not self-diagnose, especially via the internet. Don’t rely on hearsay, or friend’s advice – no matter how well intentioned. Your doctor is where your questions should be directed at, and never, ever be afraid to ask them!
On a lighter note, I’ve just come back from a week in Spain, starting off with a few days in Valencia. It’s the first time I’ve been there, and it won’t be my last trip. I love the city: it would not be difficult to set up home there…
Until the next time, I’ll paraphrase the wonderful Bobby McFerrin – don’t worry, be happy!
PS. A few images of Valencia: