Cancer is the second in the leading causes of death however this number is decreasing due to early screening, prevention measures and healthy lifestyle living. Cancer is the name given to more than 1OO diseases that occur as a result of cells growing uncontrollably and destroying body tissue. The cells form a tumour which is in form of a mass however not all tumours are cancerous, the cancerous one is referred to as malignant meaning it can grow and spread in other parts of the body. When a tumour is referred to as benign it means that it’s not cancerous and it can grow at a very low rate but not spread to other parts of the body. There are also other types of cancers that don’t form tumours for example leukaemias.
Causes of Cancer.
Scientists believe that there is no one cause of cancer but there are factors that could lead to cancer, the factors could be environmental, or justifiable distinctive of a person. Some of the factors can be prevented but some cannot for example the ones that are caused by age and genetic.
Factors that Increase Risk of Cancer
- Alcohol intake
- Unhealthy junk food
- Lack of exercise
- Air pollution with harmful chemicals
- Exposure to radiation
- Exposure to sun
- Some viruses and bacteria
Cancer can be avoided by taking caution on how you live your daily life. Change of lifestyle has increased the number of cancer cases which is alarming. People are advised to eat healthy food which is full of all the nutrients with a lot of vegetables and avoid fast food. Alcohol and smoking are also factors that increase cancer risk thus people are advised to quit the habits that put them at risk of getting the deadly disease. Early screening can help to detect cancer at its earliest age that’s why it’s advisable to be alert on any symptoms that might show up. The self-examination will help an individual detect any unusual change in the body. The American cancer society came up with a simple reminder:
C – (Change in bowel or bladder behaviour)
A – (A sore that does not cure or heal)
U – (Unusual bleeding or discharge)
T – (Thickening of breast or a lump in the breast or elsewhere)
I – (Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing)
O – (Obvious change in a mole/wart)
N – (Nagging cough or hoarseness)
Types of Cancers.
Cancers are named from the body part they originate from for example: Lung cancer even if it spreads to other parts of the body it will be still be called lung cancer. The following forms different types of cancers:
- Sarcoma- It is malignant that grows in connection tissue this includes bones, fat, muscles, cartilage and tendons.
- Carcinoma – This type of cancer is found in body tissue called epithelial tissue, it also attacks surfaces of organs, body structures or glands. Most of the carcinoma attacks body organs that are involved in secretion for example the breast.
- Myeloma- This type of cancer forms in the bone marrow in the plasma cells which can form in one bone to form one single tumour known as plasmacytoma. The myeloma may be collected in many bones and forms multiple tumours in different bones and it is known as multiple myeloma.
- Lymphoma- This is cancer that originates from the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system in the body produces white blood cells and also cleans body fluids. Lymphoma also grows in the brain and breasts leukaemia. This type of cancer is known as blood cancer which attacks the bone marrow and is unable to produce white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Platelets in the body help the body from bleeding and bruising while the white blood cells fight infections and red blood cells prevent anaemia.
Common Cancers in America.
Breast cancer occurs when cells grow uncontrollable inform of a tumour however, the cancer cells grow in glands that are responsible for producing milk known as lobules or the ducts which is the pathway that drains milk to the nipple. There are also other forms of breast cancers that attack stromal tissue which includes the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast however they a rare breast cancer. All tumours are cancerous, benign tumours are not cancerous and are close to normal cells and grow slow while malignant is cancerous and spread to other parts of the body.
There are some precautions that can be taken to prevent breast cancer, eating a balanced diet, working out to maintain a healthy body and reducing weight to lower higher risks that come with being overweight. Smoking and taking alcohol are also factors that increase breast cancers and it is advisable to quit smoking and limit alcohol intake or avoid it in general.
This type of malignant which is cancer cells forms in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located at the front of the neck which is responsible for regulating hormones in the body. The thyroid absorbs iodine from the bloodstream to produce hormones that regulate metabolism in the body. A goitre is an enlargement of the thyroid which is a result of not getting enough iodine.
A person is at risk of getting Thyroid cancer if there is a family history of RET genes. The enlargement of the thyroid is known as goitre or thyroid nodules. Radiation exposure can also increase the risk of Thyroid Cancer. If there is a history in the family of the RET genes the rest of the family can be tested for a mutated gene to prevent the risk of getting Thyroid Cancer.
This type of cancer cell grows in the cervix which is the part that connects the vagina to the lower part of the uterus. Cervical cancer develops when the abnormal cells grow uncontrollably and form tumours. It is still unclear what causes cervical cancer however an HPV which is an STI has been linked to Cervical Cancer.
Factors that Increase Risk of Cervical Cancer:
- A person who has multiple partners is at risk, the more you have many partners the more likely you are to conduct HPV
- When someone gets into sex at an early age increase the risk of getting HPV
- There are other STIs that are linked to cervical cancer for example chlamydia, syphilis, HIV and gonorrhoea.
- When your immune system is weak by other conditions in your body and you have HPV you are likely to get cervical cancer
- Smoking is also a factor that increases cervical cancer thus it’s advisable to quit the habit.
This type of cancer starts in the lungs where abnormal cells start to uncontrollably and form a tumour that is malignant. The lung is divided into two sponge-like organs. The right lung has three lobes while the left lung has two lobes. The main purpose of the lung is to take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide in the blood system.
Lung cancer is categorised into two types; NSCLC and SCLC.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
This type of cancer forms a large part which consists of 80% to 85% of the lung cancer cases. These lung cancers include:
- squamous cell carcinoma
- large cell carcinoma
Adenocarcinoma starts in the cell that is responsible for producing secrete substances such as mucus. Adenocarcinoma occurs in people who smoke or used to smoke at some point in their lives and quit, unfortunately, it is also common in people who do not smoke, it affects more women compared to men and occurs at a younger age compared to other types of lung cancer.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
This type of lung cancer is also referred to as oat cell cancer and consist of 10% to 15% of lung cancers. SCLC spreads faster than NSCLC and thus responds well to chemotherapy and radiation therapy unfortunately SCLC is likely to reoccur at some point to most people.
There are some measures that can be taken to prevent lung cancer for instance staying away from tobacco. Radon is a chemical that can increase the chances of lung cancer so it’s advisable to stay away from this harmful chemical. Eating healthy will also lower the chances of getting lung cancer.
This type of cancer grows in the ovaries whereby abnormal cells grow uncontrollably and form malignant cells. The reproductive system of a woman consists of two ovaries, one on the left side and the other on the right side. The ovary produces eggs known as the ova and two hormones known as estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer involves surgery and chemotherapy treatment.
There are several symptoms of Ovarian Cancer which includes:
- Frequent need to empty your bowel
- Pain in the back
- Feeling full; as soon as you put food in your mouth or start eating
- Losing a lot of weight
- Feeling fatigued
- Feeling discomfort in the pelvic area
- Feeling abnormal swelling and bloating
It is advisable to visit a doctor when you experience such symptoms. There are no clear indications of what causes ovarian cancer however there are factors that may increase the risk of ovarian cancer. These factors include:
- Old age
- Inheritance from the family which is at a low percentage
- Obesity or overweight
- Hormone replacement therapy which is administered to people who are past menopause may also cause an ovarian cancer
- If you never have been pregnant
- Starting menstruation at an early age and ending it at a later age may also increase risk factors
Liver cancer starts in the liver. The work of the liver is to filter the blood; this is achieved by getting rid of toxins and other wastes to the excretion. The liver also converts nutrients and drugs to ready to use chemicals for the body. Most of the liver cancer cases are secondary or metastatic which means that they don’t start in the liver, they are spread from other body parts. The liver cancer cases that starts from the liver accounts for 2%. The liver can also have tumours that are not cancerous but may need to be removed if they cause any pain. There are some factors that are related to liver cancer which include:
- Chronic Infection
- Liver damage for example birth defects
- Fatty liver disease
Cirrhosis is a condition caused by alcohol intake and it causes scary damage to the liver.
Kidney cancer occurs when cells in the kidney start to grow uncontrollably and become malignant which are cancerous cells. Many of the tumours in the kidneys are not cancerous however it is very important to get a thorough check to see if the mass is cancerous. The purpose of the kidney is to clean the blood, balance fluids and maintain electrolyte levels such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium and acid. The kidney is also responsible for making hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in US and men are more likely to be diagnosed compared to women. The risk factors that lead to kidney cancer are:
- High blood pressure
- Hereditary which accounts for smaller accounts
- Exposure to harmful chemicals that affect kidneys
There are symptoms that are likely to be associated with kidney cancer:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in between ribs and hips
- Lose weight
- Fever that does not go away and it is not caused by infection
- Having a low blood cell count
This kind of cancer starts from the colon or rectum whereby the cell that lines the colon starts to grow uncontrollably and form a malignant tumour. This kind of cancer can be referred to as colon cancer or rectum cancer depending on where it originates from. Colorectal cancer is the second cause of death in the US and the third most common cancer. Some colorectal cancer does not show any signs so it is highly advisable to be getting checkups more frequently. However, there are some symptoms that are associated with colorectal cancer which include:
- When you see blood in your stool
- Anaemia that is not explained
- Abnormal pain caused by bloating
- When your bowel changes and you experience constipation, diarrhoea
- Weight loss and vomiting