Dear members,
Cancer is a disease that every one is scared of. There are so many types of cancer,like the cancer of throat,lung,breast,colorectum,uterus,liver and so on.
What is cancer.?
Let us see what is it,causes,symptoms etc.,
Hope this will be of some use in knowing about it.
Varadarajan


CANCER

Cancer is a group of over one hundred diseases characterized by abnormal, uncontrolled cell growth. In a healthy body – cells grow, die and are replaced in a very controlled way. Damage or change in the genetic material of cells by environmental or internal factors result in cells that don’t die and continue to multiply until a massive cancer or a tumour develops. Most cancer related deaths are due to metastasis, malignant cells that penetrate into the circulatory system and establish colonies in other parts of the body. Great advancements have been made but cancer is still leading cause of death for people under 85.

Cancer content

Causes
Symptoms
Stages
Treatment
Prevention

Causes

There are innumerable things which can cause cancer. Some of the commoner causes are as follows:

Nicotine (chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes etc) – usually causes oral cancer, lung cancer; and cancers of the alimentary tract, pancreas etc. Nicotine can cause cancer of practically any organ in the body.
Genes, some cancers run in a family. There is inheritance of a faulty gene, which initiates cancer. For example, HBOC (Hereditary Breast Ovarian Cancer), HNPCC (Hereditary Non Polyposis Colorectal Cancer) etc.
Prolonged sun exposure causes cancer of skin
Carcinogens in the environment – There are many substances in the food we eat or water we drink or air we breathe, which have a potential to cause cancer. Like asbestos is known to cause lung cancer (for example, in the city of Mumbai, presently, due to a very rampant construction activity which is completely uncontrolled, there are lot of positively charged particles in the air, including particles of asbestos. All this will show up as a rise in lung cancer cases, even in non-smokers, within the next twenty years). Foods contaminated with pesticides have undesirable effects on the body. Certain substances used to make ‘Chinese’ food (especially in roadside stalls and hotels), have harmful effects on the stomach. Smoked foods can cause cancer of alimentary tract. Water contaminated with heavy minerals due to industrial effluents are also harmful.
Viruses. Hepatitis B and C viruses are responsible for 50% of Liver cancers. Human Papilloma virus is responsible for 99.9% cases of cervical cancer.
Radiation exposure increases risk of cancer.

Symptoms

Generally, at an overall level, if fever, body ache, a feeling of ill-being and unexplained loss of weight are troubling you for more than three months, one can suspect cancer. Do visit your physician and get your blood tests done. There could also be chronic tiredness & fatigue because in certain cancers, the bone marrow does not produce enough red cells leading to reduced hemoglobin and weakness.

Though we obviously cannot enlist every presenting symptom here as every person is unique and it may present differently every time, we have attempted some of the more common ones:

1. Alternating diarrhea and constipation for a prolonged time period: could be a symptom of intestinal cancer.
2. Persistent cough and hoarseness of voice: If it persists despite full course of antibiotic therapy, it could indicate cancer of the throat.
3. Blood in stools: could indicate gastrointestinal cancer.
4. Blood in urine: If you happen to see reddish-colored urine and have fever and pain in the abdomen, it could be a cancer of the kidney.
5. A non-healing ulcer in the mouth: It could indicate an oral cancer, especially if you are a smoker or chew tobacco (as gutka, tambaku).
6. Prolonged menstrual bleeding: If you witness periods for more than 10 days to weeks, it could indicate uterine cancer.
7. Blood in sputum/ phlegm along with cough: If you have persistent cough leading to blood in your phlegm/ sputum, it could indicate lung cancer.
8. Recurring jaundice: If you’ve been suffering from jaundice off and on, it’s time you screen yourself for liver cancer.
9. Lump in the breast: Although not all lumps in the breast are cancerous, it is worthwhile to get them examined by a good breast surgeon. Women over 35 years of age should ideally get mammography done every one or two years.
10. Change in the size of a wart, mole: It could indicate skin cancer.
11. Thickening or lump anywhere on the body which is either growing or lasts for more than a few days should be shown to the physician too.

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Stages

Most cancers have 4 stages. They are decided by the TNM system (T – Tumour, N – Node, M – Metastases). The doctor will assess whether the tumour is localized only to the organ, or if it has spread to the nearby nodes or if it has distant metastases (if it has spread to organs far away from the initial site of the cancer through the blood). The reason of segregating patients in stages is that each stage may have some predictable outcome and will have particular type of treatment for that group.
Treatment

Cancer treatments are usually of three types – chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The type of therapy that a doctor will recommend depends on the type of cancer, how far it has progressed and where in the body it is located. Chemotherapy or cancer drugs are recommended when cancerous cells are present in various parts of the body. Radiation targets the cancerous cells directly and prevents them from replicating while surgery directly removes the cancerous tumour. Doctors usually recommend a combination of these treatments.
Prevention

1. Avoid smoking or exposure to smoke
2. Practice sun safety
3. Include fruits and veggies into your diet
4. Limit red meat consumption
5. Limit alcohol consumption
6. Exercise and keep fit
7. Get regular check-ups if you have a family history of cancer
8. Know your risk factors at your work place
9. Practice safe sex
10. Get annual health check ups