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Debunking the Myths – Lessons from Twitter on World Cancer Day

The #tacklingcancer tweetchat, which took place on 4 Feb, was an initiative to support World Cancer Day. The chosen theme for this year looked at ways to reduce the stigma and dispel the myths about cancer.

The #tacklingcancer tweetchat took place on 4 Feb as an initiative to support World Cancer Day and the chosen theme for this year – how to reduce the stigma and dispel the myths about cancer. Jointly hosted by @GEHealthcare and @UICC (Union for International Cancer Control), with Kathi Apostolidis, VP of European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) moderating, participants entered into a lively exchange of issues facing patients and caregivers.

The tweetchat began with ways of debunking the first myth: ‘We don’t need to talk about cancer.’ Participants were unanimous in the view that communication between patient, caregiver, and healthcare provider was crucial in increasing awareness and providing support for the patient.

@uicc tweeted: ‘It is important to talk about #prevention #earlydetection #treatment and #care. We must leave no one behind,’ while @btrfly12 believed that, ‘too many cancers still have stigma and/or ppl uncomfortable saying out loud – have to keep telling our stories.’ @angel189 tweeted ‘Social media provides excellent way to openly discuss #cancer and connect with others.’

In June last year, GE Healthcare commissioned new research that revealed the escalating cost of cancer care could be offset with annual savings of $25 billion to the cancer care bill if individuals took positive steps towards eliminating bad habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and physical inactivity from their lifestyles. A larger version of this infographic can be seen here.

In June last year, GE Healthcare commissioned new research that revealed the escalating cost of cancer care could be offset with annual savings of $25 billion to the cancer care bill if individuals took positive steps towards eliminating bad habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and physical inactivity from their lifestyles. A larger version of this infographic can be seen here.

The next myth: ‘There are no signs or symptoms of cancer,’ also ignited some lively debate with many participants wanting to know more about symptoms of cancer and the signs to look out for. @uicc tweeted; ‘Provision of a skilled and supported #cancerworkforce is critical to the success of #earlydetection programmes for #cancer.’ @TeamR0XY placed the emphasis on personal responsibility tweeting: ‘Listening to your body & knowing what is normal for you is so important – have to self-advocate.’

Participants, which included Cary Adams, CEO of UICC, were also active in debunking the next myth: ‘There’s nothing I can do about cancer.’ The major trend during this part of the tweetchat saw many participants eager to take some action but were in the dark about what they could do.  @bcsctweet tweeted: ‘Prevention is the most cost-effective & sustainable way of reducing the global cancer burden in long-term.’ The Canadian Cancer Society (@cancersociety) also contributed to debunking this myth with two tweets: ‘About 1/3 of all cancers can be prevented by eating well, being active & maintaining a healthy body weight,’ and ‘Women 50-69 should get mammograms every 2 years to find breast cancer early.’

In June last year, GE Healthcare commissioned new research that revealed the escalating cost of cancer care could be offset with annual savings of $25 billion to the cancer care bill if individuals took positive steps towards eliminating bad habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and physical inactivity from their lifestyles.

‘I don’t have the right to cancer care,’ was the next and final myth to be discussed. Once again, participants agreed having access to cancer care was a right for everyone and solutions were discussed as to how to make this so. @cancersociety tweeted: ‘Everyone has a basic human right to decent healthcare, whether they have a stigmatized disease or not,’ while @ncbennevis highlighted the role governments had to play in providing healthcare access: ‘several problems in medical research related to lobby research policy agenda: #transparency #methods #priorities #alltrials.’

The tweetchat coincided with World Cancer Day, which focused on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: Reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer, under the tagline “Debunk the myths”.

A full transcript of the event can be found on Symplur.

More Information

The Canadian Cancer Society

UICC (Union for International Cancer Control)

European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC)