Cancer can be simply defined as a condition where there is uncontrolled multiplication of cells in a specific area in the body.
These cells that multiply uncontrollably are the ones referred to as cancer and they are either tumors or malignant cells.
Cancer is not a condition that is experienced by only human beings.
Animals and all the other living organisms in the world can be affected by cancer.
Cancer is among the deadliest condition in the world, manifesting in over 200 types in the bodies of living organisms.
Cancer has many causes from chemical toxins, genetics and even radiation exposure among others.
The symptoms of cancer and treatment vary from one type of cancer to another.
The causes of cancer
Any substance, chemical or compound that has the ability to induce uncontrollable cell division and multiplication is a potential cause of cancer in the body.
While some causes of cancer are not known, many others have already been discovered and established.
Most of the causes of cancer can be classified under environmental or health and lifestyle.
However, there are some types of cancer that also occur due to the genetic make-up of the individual person.
It is not possible for scientists and specialists to identify the main events that lead to development of cancers in every individual.
However, there are general causes of cancer that are the most common and they are discussed below.
a) Exposure to chemicals
This is the most common cause of cancer in the bodies of living organisms.
Some of the chemicals that can lead to development of cancer in the body include; asbestos, benzene, vinyl chloride, cadmium, nickel, aflatoxin and even tobacco smoke.
Radiation is also another cause of cancer.
Exposure to radiation from the sun, X-rays, and other machines that produce beta, alpha and gamma rays can lead to the development of cancer.
c) The genetic make-up
Some types of cancer including ovarian, melanoma, skin and prostate cancer have been closely linked to the genetic make-up.
These are the types of cancer that are inherited from closely related people and they are commonly referred to as hereditary.
d) Exposure to certain pathogens
Human Papillomavirus, Schistosoma species, Helicobacter pylon and Hepatitis viruses among others are just but some of the pathogens that can lead to cancer.
A large group of people that are suffering from cancer have had attacks by either of these viruses at least once in their lives.
However, it is important to know that almost everyone in the world has been exposed to at least one of risk factors for cancer but not everyone develops cancer.
In the same case, there are those people that have genes that are loosely linked with cancer but they do not develop the condition.
Generally the more a person is exposed to these risk factors for cancer, the higher their chances of developing the condition.
The most common types of cancer
As indicated above, there are 200+ types of cancer in the world today.
There are some cancers that many people have never heard about because they are extremely rare.
However, there are those types of cancers that are very common and almost everyone is familiar with them.
Cancer is the leading cause of human death in the world today.
In men, the most common types of cancer are; lung cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.
In women, the most common types of cancer are; colorectal cancer, breasts cancer and lung cancer.
In children, the most common types of cancer are; brain tumors, lymphoma and leukemia.
General signs and symptoms of cancer
The signs and symptoms of the condition will greatly depend on what type it is, the degree of development and where it occurs.
However, some of the cancer patients do not show any signs at all until the cancer is greatly developed.
Below are the general signs and symptoms of cancer and one should go for a checkup immediately when they experience most of the symptoms:
- A cough that does not go away.
- Difficulty during swallowing and chronic indigestion problems.
- Lump development in the testicles, breasts and any other part of the body.
- Bleeding that is extremely prolonged and unusually long discharges e.g. nipple secretions and sores that do not heal.
- A persistent sore throat.
- Change in shape, size and even color of a mole or a wart.
- A sudden change in bladder and bowel habits.
Other signs that may indicate towards the direction of cancer development include constant fatigue, vomiting and nausea and loss of appetite and therefore weight.
Recurring infections and fevers are also some of the other signs and symptoms to look out for.
Cancer diagnosis and staging
In order for the professional to identify whether you have cancer or not and the stage of development it is in, several examinations have to be carried out.
First, a history and a physical exam have to be carried out to identify the possible type of cancer you have and its location in the body.
X-rays, ultrasound, endoscopy and MRI and CT scans are some of the tools used.
However, in order to be sure of the nature, stage of development and location of the cancer, a biopsy has to be done.
Most of the cancers have 4 stages.
Can cancer be treated?
Whether a cancer can be treated and the method of treatment varies from one caner to another.
In some of the cases, the diagnosis and treatment occur at the same time, surgically, during the obtaining of the sample for biopsy.
However in other cases, the patients may be taken through protocol and sequenced treatments.
In such a case, the patients are treated using radiation therapy, a combination of several treatments, surgery or chemotherapy.
When the cancer is found to be at a developed stage where nothing can be done to cure it, then the patient is put under palliative therapy.
This is a combination of treatments and medicines that reduce pain and manifestation of the symptoms, to improve the quality of life of the patient.
Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the world today.
This is because when it id discovered late, then there is nothing that can be done to reverse it.
In addition to the treatments listed above, there are other publications in the internet on alternative treatments of cancer.
Eating a healthy diet, working out and even incorporating certain foods in the diet are said to help treat cancer.
Even though most of these publications have been found to reduce the symptoms of cancer, there is no proof that they can treat cancer.
It is therefore important for cancer patients to carefully consult with their doctors before they begin using these alternative treatments and home remedies.