Behind the Breakthroughs
The Your Stories Podcast

Hear candid conversations between people conquering cancer — patients, their family and friends, and doctors and researchers working to help us all.

Dr. Stacy Wentworth in a white coat, smiling facing forward in an outdoor setting.
Behind the Breakthroughs
Reframing Cancer
Publicly discussing breast cancer was once deemed largely inappropriate until one of the world’s largest cancer charities joined hands with women around the world, determined to bring the topic into the mainstream. They succeeded: Today, many people from professional athletes to politicians proudly wear pink to raise breast cancer awareness.

Even so, cancer stigmas around other cancers persist, putting at risk not only today’s patients, but tomorrow’s as well. Whether for colorectal, lung, esophageal, uterine or other types of cancer, stigmatization frequently results in people hesitating to seek potentially lifesaving cancer screening, increasing the risk of the disease going undetected until it’s too late. Meanwhile, in some cases, stigmatized cancers receive less research funding, slowing the pace of progress and limiting the options for patients facing them.

But stigmas aren’t facts, they’re a way of thinking—and they’re changeable. April is National Cancer Control Month, launched with the aim of cutting the U.S. cancer death rate in half by 2028, and oncologists like Dr. Stacy Wentworth are helping to lead the way. Dr. Wentworth has two decades of experience leading patient-centered care teams. Her weekly Substack, Cancer Culture, explores our modern beliefs, including the difficult conversations that come with stigmatized cancers.
Your Stories
Stopping the Stigma

Esophageal cancer. Testicular cancer. Lung cancer. Cervical cancer. Colon cancer. What do each of these diseases have in common? They’re all heavily stigmatized. Some are associated with portions of the anatomy typically considered private. Others are linked to causes that result in blame and criticism directed at the patient. In any case, patients with stigmatized diseases face challenges that go beyond care. Societal taboos often result in certain diseases being overlooked and underfunded in the research space, leading to fewer medical innovations and fewer treatment options. Moreover, stigmas often result in people hesitating to get cancer screenings, allowing the disease to spread and the chances of survival to decrease.

In this episode of Your Stories, we’re joined by Dr. Stacy Wentworth, an award-winning oncologist with experience discussing cancer stigmas and the many challenges they bring. As a medical director of cancer survivorship and the founder of her weekly Substack, Cancer Culture, Dr. Wentworth is an expert in helping patients navigate cancer stigmas. Together with host Dr. Don Dizon, she explores how various historical and sociocultural factors shape attitudes toward cancer, including the many taboos and difficult conversations that may come with it.

We’ve got to figure out how to welcome people with cancer back into our worlds and into our communities, and support them and listen to their experiences, instead of hoisting our own belief systems about what cancer should be onto them.
Dr. Stacy Wentworth