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Cancer: Get to Know Better

Cancer Get to Know Better

Cancer term sounds very scary for many people because it can be a death sentence. However, understanding cancer better will help you deal with this condition better to have a better life quality.

What is Cancer?


Despite the high awareness about cancer, it seems that many people do not have a proper understanding of this term. Cancer refers to a large group of diseases and it occurs when abnormal cells divide rapidly. The abnormal cells can also spread not only to other tissue but also to other organs.

Because of the rapid cells' growth, tumors can be built within the body. The regular function of the body may be disrupted, as well. People have more awareness about this disease because it is one of the leading causes of death in the universe. However, survival rates for many types of cancer patients are getting better because of improvements in prevention, screening, and cancer treatment.

Symptoms of Cancer


Patients might show different signs and symptoms of cancer depending on the part of the body that is affected by cancer. Nevertheless, we can see some general signs and symptoms that can be associated with cancer.

Fatigue can be a symptom of various health conditions, but it can also be the symptom of cancer if it comes with other symptoms, such as a lump or thickening area that can be felt under the skin. The significant weight changes that might not be intended whether weight loss or gain can also be another cancer symptom.

You also need to check whether any skin changes appear, such as redness, darkening, or yellowing because these can also be symptoms of cancer. Do not forget about sores that will not heal and change to your existing moles.

If you have changes in bladder or bowel habits, it can also be another symptom of cancer along with trouble breathing or persistent cough and difficulty swallowing, as well as, hoarseness. You should also check whether you experience persistent discomfort or indigestion after eating.

You should be more aware if you experience persistent muscle or joint pain that cannot be explained. The same thing goes for persistent night sweats or fevers that cannot be explained. If you have bruising or bleeding with no explanation, it can also be another cancer symptom.

You need to see the doctor if you have those symptoms that become a big concern for you. You might not have any symptoms, but if you are worried about your cancer risk, you can feel free to discuss it with your doctor. The doctor might recommend cancer screening tests if necessary.

Causes of Cancer


The main causes of cancer are the changes or mutations to the DNA within cells. The DNA contains individual genes with a different set of instructions telling the functions to perform by the cell. The instruction about how to grow and divide is also included in the DNA. However, the cell can stop its normal function when there are errors in the instructions. In this circumstance, the cell can be cancerous.

A healthy cell can allow rapid growth, fail to stop uncontrolled cell growth, and make mistakes in repairing DNA errors because of a gene mutation. Cancer has these common gene mutations, after all. However, the cause of cancer can also be contributed by other gene mutations.

Why can gene mutations occur? Gene mutations might occur because of various reasons. You can be born with gene mutations, but they can also occur after birth. One thing is for sure, gene mutations are not strange things, at all, because it happens often during normal cell growth. Nevertheless, cells have a mechanism to recognize and repair mistakes. The cell becomes cancerous when a mistake is missed.

You cannot talk about the causes of cancer without talking about its risk factors, as well. Your risk of cancer can increase because of some factors and the very first one is your age. Many people are diagnosed with cancer after they reach 65 years old and more because cancer can take years to develop. It does not mean that cancer is an exclusive disease for adults because it can be diagnosed at any age.

Your habits will also be another factor that can affect your risk of cancer. Cancer can be contributed by certain choices of lifestyle, such as smoking, alcohol drinking, excessive exposure to the sun, obesity, and unsafe sex. That is why you should lower your risk of cancer by changing these habits. Changing habits can be hard though.

Your family history can also be another factor that might increase your risk of cancer. Some types of cancer can be inherited. Yet, your health conditions and environment can also increase your risk of cancer.

Types of Cancer


You might be familiar with some types of cancer, but one thing is for sure, the cancer name is taken from the area in which the disease begins and also the cell type of the cancer is made of. This rule still applies even if the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body.

Some clinical terms are used for some general cancer types. The first one is carcinoma which refers to cancer that begins in the skin or tissues that line other organs. Meanwhile, sarcoma term is used for cancer of connective tissues, such as blood vessels, cartilage, muscles, and bones. Bone marrow cancer is called leukemia. Cancers of the immune system can be lymphoma or myeloma.

You can find more terms used for specific cancers from appendix cancer to vulvar cancer based on the first growth location.

Cancer Treatment


You can find many cancer treatments, but the options will depend on several factors, including the stage and type of cancer, general health condition, and preference. You can work together with your doctor to find the best treatment option to get better.

Cancer treatments have different goals. The treatment might be used as a cure to allow you to live a normal life span. The primary treatment comes intending to kill cancer cells or remove them from your body completely. Surgery becomes the most common primary treatment for cancer.

Adjuvant treatment has the goal to kill any remaining cancer cells after primary treatment. This treatment is necessary to reduce the chance of cancer reoccurrence. Hormone therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy can be included in common adjuvant therapies.

Palliative treatment is used to help relieve treatment side effects. It can also be used for relieving the signs and symptoms associated with cancer. It can be varied from surgery to medications.

Doctors have several options for cancer treatment. The very first one is surgery for removing cancer completely or as much cancer as possible. Another treatment that might be familiar is chemotherapy which uses drugs for killing cancer cells and radiation therapy which uses high-powered energy beams for killing cancer cells.

Bone marrow transplant is also a cancer treatment that will be used for replacing diseased bone marrow. Nevertheless, the doctor can use higher doses of chemotherapy with a bone marrow transplant to treat cancer better. It is also called a stem cell transplant.

Next, there is also immunotherapy or biological therapy. This therapy will allow the immune system in your body to fight cancer. This therapy will help the immune system identify cancer cells and attack them.

Hormone therapy is also used for treating some cancer types that are fueled by hormones, such as prostate cancer and breast cancer. Other treatments include targeted drug therapy and clinical trials.

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