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Feb 2024

Cancer : Types, risk factors, prevention and causes

Posted By Suborna Fermi Posted on Feb 19, 2024

Being known as the deadliest disease of all time, cancer has still remained on the list of one of the most common diseases that a huge number of people are suffering from. Cancer is more of a group of diseases rather than a particular disease. To be more specific, cancer is a crucial health condition, in which, the abnormal cells start dividing continuously. In the human body, cancer may occur for various reasons.

Potential causes of cancer

Any abnormal changes or mutations that have taken place in your cells’ DNA can surely be the primary reason for the occurrence of cancer in your body. Some of the most mentionable external causes of cancer may include

  1. Certain chemical carcinogens such as alcohol, cigarettes, asbestos, contaminated food or drinking water, and air pollution.
  2. Certain biological carcinogens such as parasites, viruses or bacteria.
  3. Certain physical carcinogens such as ultraviolet rays and radiation.

How does cancer grow in the human body?

Usually, our body cells grow, and then divide. Cells have their own life spans and every time a bunch of cells die or get damaged, new cells replace them automatically. Cancer interferes with this process and causes abnormal growth of these cells, which happens because of the mutations in the cell DNA. Every single cell’s DNA naturally has instructions about how to grow and when to divide but when mutations occur, it causes the survival of cells that are supposed to die and the formation of new cells that are not needed. All these extra cells start dividing uncontrollably and form tumors. Although not all types of tumors are cancerous such as benign tumors, malignant tumors are known for being cancerous and may spread to other parts of the human body.

Certain kinds of cancer cells may spread through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream, which is called metastasis. As a matter of fact, it is critically difficult to treat metastatic cancer and this is why this particular type of cancer mostly turns fatal.

How many types of cancer are there?

  1. Sarcomia is a particular type of cancer that occurs in connective tissues like muscles, bones, blood vessels or cartilage.
  2. Leukemia is known as the cancer of bone marrow.
  3. Carcinoma is a cancer of the lining tissues or the skin.
  4. The cancers of the immune system are known as myeloma and lymphoma.

Some other cancer types also include

  • Cervical cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Bone cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Appendix cancer
  • Lip cancer
  • Renal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Ear cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Skin cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Spleen cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Heart cancer
  • Gastric cancer
  • Small intestine cancer
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Vaginal cancer

Each of these cancers can be equally dangerous for an individual. Cancer is mostly known for turning incurable once it reaches the last stage and this is the reason why it is necessary to determine the presence of cancer at the initial stage. However, it is more important to have knowledge about the risk factors that may lead to cancer. Avoiding the risk factors can help to avoid the chances of facing this crucial disease.

What are the major risk factors for cancer?

  1. Use of tobacco products
  2. Frequent exposure to polluted air
  3. Excessive consumption of alcohol
  4. Radiation exposure
  5. Certain types of viral infections
  6. Exposure to ultraviolet rays

Necessary screening recommendations from any certified medical expert must be followed if an individual has any family history of cancer. It may help you to get the presence of the cancer determined in your body at the earlier stages when it is much easier to treat. Common cancer screening procedures can accurately detect the presence of skin cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer or cervical cancer. For example, a mammogram can effectively detect breast cancer.

How can you prevent cancer?

  1. Restrict the use of tobacco products and also try to avoid secondhand smoke.
  2. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.
  3. Always maintain a healthy body weight.
  4. Limit your consumption of processed meats.
  5. Screen for sexually transmitted diseases.
  6. Avoid tanning beds
  7. Get vaccinated against diseases that may lead to cancer such as HPV or Hepatitis B.

What are some common treatment options available to cure cancer?

  1. Chemotherapy: This is one of the most aggressive cancer treatment processes. It involves the use of medications that are toxic to the cells for the purpose of killing the cancer cells. It decreases the chances of spreading of the cancer cells and may also help to shrink the tumor size.
  2. Surgery: A surgery is performed to remove the cancer as much as possible. However, certain other therapies are often included with surgeries to ensure complete elimination of the cancer cells.
  3. Radiation therapy: This is also one of the most popular cancer treatment options. In this process, strong radiation beams are used for killing the cancer cells. A radiation therapy can be performed in both internal and external parts of your body.
  4. Immunotherapy: This particular type of therapy helps your antibodies recognize cancer cells so that they can naturally destroy them. To be more specific, it is actually the process of using the natural immune system of the body to attack cancer cells.
  5. Bone marrow transplant: This process is mostly used for patients suffering from leukemia. This is a crucial medical process of replacing diseased bone marrow with stem cells that are healthy. If it’s done successfully, then the doctors will be able to apply a higher dosage of chemotherapy for treating the cancer.
  6. Hormone Therapy: This therapy is performed to block or remove the hormones that support certain types of prostate cancers and breast cancers. This way, it is possible to block the growth of the cancer cells.

Diagnosing cancer is easier than ever these days because modern labs include the use of so many advanced medical technologies. A proper diagnosis can help medical experts understand the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer as well as the location of the cancer. So many pathology labs offer cancer screening facilities these days. It is necessary to go for a test once you notice that some of the primary symptoms of cancer have started growing in your body. Some of the potential cancer symptoms include

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained growth or lumps at any part of the body
  • Changes in digestion
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • changes in your skin

Never ignore any of these symptoms and consult a doctor soon after they start showing up to discuss the necessary tests and screenings that you should consider going for. CT scan, biopsy, PET scan, ultrasound, bone scan etc are some of those tests that can help experienced pathologists detect the presence of cancer in your body. Now these test facilities are available in almost every major city of the country as a large number of reliable pathology labs have started providing world-class diagnostic test facilities.

As mentioned before, cancer mostly turns incurable or fatal at the final stage, so you must take the necessary steps to get the presence of this deadly condition detected at the earlier stages. You don’t need to worry because most of the cancer test facilities are now widely available for a very reasonable cost. You may consult a pathology lab today to fetch more relevant information.