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Health Awareness - Cancer

by Health Please


Posted on 10:09AM Jun 16, 2018 in General


Health Awareness - Cancer



What is Cancer?

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in a body. These abnormal cells are termed cancer cells, malignant cells, or tumor cells. These cells can infiltrate normal body tissues. Many cancers and the abnormal cells that compose the cancer tissue are further identified by the name of the tissue that the abnormal cells originated from (for example, breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer). Cancer is not confined to humans; animals and other living organisms can get cancer. Below is a schematic that shows normal cell division and how when a cell is damaged or altered without repair to its system, the cell usually dies.

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Also shown is what occurs when such damaged or unrepaired cells do not die and become cancer cells and show uncontrolled division and growth, a mass of cancer cells develop. Frequently, cancer cells can break away from this original mass of cells, travel through the blood and lymph systems, and lodge in other organs where they can again repeat the uncontrolled growth cycle. This process of cancer cells leaving an area and growing in another body area is termed metastatic spread or metastasis. For example, if breast cancer cells spread to a bone, it means that the individual has metastatic breast cancer to bone. This is not the same as "bone cancer," which would mean the cancer had started in the bone.

The three most common cancers in men, women, and children are as follows:

  • Men: Prostate, lung, and colorectal
  • Women: Breast, lung, and colorectal
  • Children: Leukemia, brain tumors, and lymphoma

According to World Health Organization (WHO)

  • Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. It accounted for 8.2 million deaths (around 22% of all deaths not related to communicable diseases; most recent data from WHO).
  • Lung, stomach, liver, colon, and breast cancer cause the most cancer deaths each year.
  • Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 13.1 million deaths in 2030 (about a 70% increase).

What are causes of cancer?

The following is a listing of major causes and is not all-inclusive as specific causes are routinely added as research advances:

  • Chemical or toxic compound exposures: Benzene, asbestos, nickel, cadmium, vinyl chloride, benzidine, N-nitrosamines, tobacco or cigarette smoke (contains at least 66 known potential carcinogenic chemicals and toxins), asbestos, and aflatoxin.
  • Ionizing radiation: Uranium, radon, ultraviolet rays from sunlight, radiation from alpha, beta, gamma, and X-ray-emitting sources.
  • Pathogens: Human papillomavirus (HPV), EBV or Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis viruses B and C, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV), Merkel cell polyomavirus, Schistosoma spp., and Helicobacter pylori; other bacteria are being researched as possible agents.
  • Genetics: A number of specific cancers have been linked to human genes and are as follows: breast, ovarian, colorectal, prostate, skin and melanoma; the specific genes and other details are beyond the scope of this general article so the reader is referred to the National Cancer Institute for more details about genetics and cancer.

What are cancer symptoms and signs?

Symptoms and signs of cancer depend on the type of cancer, where it is located, and/or where the cancer cells have spread. The American Cancer Society describes seven warning signs and/or symptoms that a cancer may be present as:

  • Change in bowel or bladder habits.
  • A sore throat that does not heal.
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge (for example, nipple secretions or a "sore" that will not heal that oozes material).
  • Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles, or elsewhere.
  • Indigestion (usually chronic) or difficulty swallowing.
  • Obvious change in the size, colour, shape, or thickness of a wart or mole.
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness.

Other signs or symptoms may also alert you or your doctor to the possibility of your having some form of cancer. These include the following:

  • Unexplained loss of weight or loss of appetite.
  • A new type of pain in the bones or other parts of the body that may be steadily worsening, or come and go, but is unlike previous pains one has had before.
  • Persistent fatigue, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Unexplained low-grade fevers with may be either persistent or come and go.
  • Recurring infections which will not clear with usual treatment.

Anyone with these signs and symptoms should consult their doctor; these symptoms may also arise from noncancerous conditions.

What are the different types of cancer?

Carcinoma:

Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs like skin, lung, colon, pancreatic, ovarian cancers.

Sarcoma:

Cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue bone, soft tissue cancers, osteosarcoma, synovial sarcoma, liposarcoma, angiosarcoma, rhabdosarcoma, and fibrosarcoma.

Leukemia:

Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood -- "leukemia,"lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL and CLL), myelogenous leukemias (AML and CML), T-cell leukemia, and hairy-cell leukemia.

Lymphoma and myeloma:

Cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system -- "lymphoma," T-cell lymphomas, B-cell lymphomas, Hodgkin lymphomas, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and lymphoproliferative lymphomas.

Central nervous system cancers:

Cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord -- "brain and spinal cord tumors," gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas, primary CNS lymphomas, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors.

How specialists treat cancer?

A doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer is called an oncologist. He or she may be a surgeon, a specialist in radiation therapy, or a medical oncologist. The first uses surgery to treat the cancer; the second, radiation therapy; the third, chemotherapy and related treatments. Each may consult with the others to develop a treatment plan for the particular patient.



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