It all starts with a lump in the breast or a mass in the neck. Few things incite as much terror as that one thought; ‘what if it’s cancer.’
Cancer seems to be everywhere. Seldom does a Sunday paper go by without a report of a new ‘breakthrough’ in cancer treatment. Yet a miracle cure for cancer seems nowhere to be found. Click bait articles such as ’10 symptoms that could be cancer’ or ‘how your mobile/microwave/deodorant/morning coffee/entire life could be giving you cancer’ receive a high proportion of cyber traffic.
"Seldom does a Sunday paper go by without a report of a new 'breakthrough' in cancer treatment." Image via iStock.
In reality, there are many other diseases that are far more frightening and far more deadly.
Let’s say someone you know is diagnosed with heart failure. They have between a 31-52 per cent chance of dying within the year. In stark contrast, depending on the stage, women on average have a 90 per cent chance of living for five years with breast cancer, or a 97 per cent chance with testicular cancer. Of course there are some types of cancer that are far more deadly. But even so, cancer seems to receive a disproportionate bulk of our fear.
Why is cancer so unique? What is it about the disease that is so omnipotent?