Cancer (malignant tumor, malignant neoplasm) – is a group of diseases that include out-of-control cell growth and can spread to other parts of the body.
There are over 100 types of cancer which can be divided by the affected cell. It has a process when the modified cells divide and form lumps or masses of tissue called tumors. Therefore, cancer is basically a malignant tumor (neoplasm, blastoma) of skin, digestive, respiratory and urinary systems, lungs, kidneys, liver, sex organs, glands etc. and it can produce hormones that change body functions.
The term was created by doctors due to the appearance of the tumor as it looks like actual cancer or crab.
Not all tumors are cancerous. The tumors which are not growing and staying on the same spot can be considered as benign. The opposite form of tumor is malignant and it included two processes: 1) invasion: movement of cancerous cell in a body through the blood or lymphatic systems, destroying healthy tissue, 2) angiogenesis: these cells may divide and grow, making new blood vessels to feed them.
The tumors development starts from disorders of metabolic processes in cells and weak control of intracellular processes by the body. As a result of the gaining of new properties and partial independence from the regulatory systems of the body, young dividing cells lose their ability to differentiate – they don’t acquire the proper functions and don’t form a normal working tissue. Not participating in the life of organism, these cells become useless. The body tries to get rid of them with a help of immune responses, which are not always effective. Excess of young, breeding all the time, but no working cells, leads to the fact that these cells are attacking the tissue or organ that had them. These cells (tumor cells) go into body’s tissue and destroy it affecting the blood and lymph vessels, which are distributing them in organism and it is said to have metastasized.
When disease begins it doesn’t have any visible symptoms. It’s producing symptoms in the process of growth. The signs and symptoms are very different and depend on where the tumor is located, size of the tumor and where it has spread. Some diseases can be seen through the skin like a lump on the breast when the skin disease (melanoma) can be indicated by a change in a wart or mole on the skin.
Other types of cancers may have symptoms which are not so visible or don’t appear physically. For example, the symptoms of some brain cancers are seen in changes in cognitive functions and pancreas cancers are too small to have some symptoms until you push against nearby nerves and feel pain.
Also, cancer’s symptoms can be created during tumor is changing its size and pushes against organs and blood vessels like in case with colon cancer which causes such symptoms as diarrhea, constipation, changes in stool size. Bladder or prostate cancers can cause changes in bladder functions like more frequent urination.
According to some researchers, symptoms and signs can be divided into three groups:
- Local effects – occur due to direct effects of cancer, mass of the tumor and its ulceration. For example, lung disease is able to cause blockage of the bronchus, colorectal cancer may cause narrowing or blockages in the bowel. Ulceration can lead to bleeding and if it appears in the lung, it will cause coughing up blood, in the bladder to blood in the urine, in the bowels to anemia or rectal bleeding and in the uterus to vaginal bleeding.
- Systematic symptoms – occur due to distant effect of this disease and may be not related to direct spread. These symptoms are fever, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, excessive sweating, anemia, and changes to the skin.
- Symptoms of metastatic cancers
As cancer includes metastasis, this process adds specific symptoms too. It depends on the location of the tumor and can include swollen or enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged liver, and spleen, pain in affected bones.
Keep in mind that mentioned symptoms can be caused by other diseases as well, like swollen lymph needs is a symptom of the flu.
The factors that can cause cancer are a lot. Basically, we can separate them in two group environmental and genetic. So to environmental one we can include:
- economic and behavioral factors
- carcinogens (tobacco, asbestos, arsenic, benzene, aromatic amines and amides, radiation such as gamma and x-rays, the sun, aflatoxin and others)
- physical agents (prolonged exposure to asbestos, naturally occurring mineral fibers, wollastonite, attapulgite, glass wool, and rock wool etc.)
- diet and obesity
- infections (oncovirus that includes human papillomavirus, Epstein–Barr virus, Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus)
- radiation (ionizing and non-ionizing)
- lack of physical activity
- environmental pollution
It’s important to note that tobacco use is cause of 20% of cancer deaths. Smoking can increase risk of many types of disease as lung cancer, kidney cancer, head and neck cancer, cancer of the larynx, cancer of the esophagus, cancer of the pancreas, bladder cancer, and stomach cancer. Also, the secondhand smoke can be very dangerous for women by risk of gaining cervical cancer, myeloid leukemia, liver cancer, colorectal disease, diseases of the gallbladder etc. The relationship between tobacco and breast disease is unexplored yet.
Genetic causes have genes DNA-type factor (uncontrolled growth of cells because of mutations in DNA) and genes family type factor – cancer inherited from family members because of genetic predisposition.
Types of cancer
There are various possibilities to classify cancer by different criteria. The most common classification is these 5 groups:
- Carcinomas are described by cells that cover internal or external parts of the body (breast, lung, colon cancer).
- Lymphomas are cancers that occur in the lymph nodes and immune system tissue.
- Sarcomas are typified by cells that located in bone, fat, muscles, fibrous tissue and cartilage.
- Leukemia is a group of this disease that develop in the bone marrow and create a high number of abnormal white blood cells.
- Adenomas are cancers that appear in the thyroid, adrenal gland, pituitary gland and other glandular tissue.
Statistics shows that there are the most common types of disease worldwide. And to those diseases, people distinguish bladder disease, breast disease, colon and rectal disease, endometrial disease, kidney disease, leukemia, lung disease, melanoma, prostate disease, pancreatic and thyroid disease. What is more, exactly these forms of this disease are bringing the biggest amount of deaths within all cancers cases.
Preventing is better than treatment since its makes the probability of recovery much better.
It is believed that disease can be prevented by not smoking, not drinking too much alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, doing exercises, eating fruits and vegetables, avoiding too much exposure to sunlight.
As far as prevention is concerned, these tips are proposed by experts and it is possible to specify more concrete actions which will prevent the development of disease in your body as well as divide them in a few groups depending on affecting factor.
- Tobacco: if you use it, you should be aware of your high risk to get cancer of lungs, cervix, bladder, and kidney. When chewing tobacco may cause disease of the pancreas. If you don’t smoke directly, but your partner or friend does, it will put you at the same risk level of developing lung disease. Avoiding tobacco or stopping the use of is a solution if you plan to stay healthy.
- Alcohol: limit the amount of alcohol you drink to a possible minimum because alcohol abuse causes cancer of liver, breast, lung, colon, kidney.
- Food: healthy food wouldn’t ensure you never get sick, but it can reduce risk of cancer. For preventing cancer eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, limit fats by avoiding high-fat products from animal sources, because they are higher in calories and can lead to obesity, cut out sugar drinks and fries and ships, eat steamed broccoli which is top cancer preventing food, eat Brazil nuts (contain selenium that kills disease cells and helps cells to renew their DNA), garlic (stimulate the immune system to provide defense against disease), artichokes (have a silymarin that helps to prevent skin diseaser), fish (prevent colon disease), kiwi and grapes (have disease fighting antioxidants). Also, you should drink green tea (it reduces risk of breast, prostate, colon disease) and milk (calcium protects from colon disease).
- Activities: do some physical exercises every day and maintain a healthy weight.
- Sun: don’t stay for a long time under the sun, cover yourself. It will help you to prevent skin cancer.
- Medical care and regular testing: if there is something that disturbs you, don’t postpone - go to see a doctor, moreover you can do screenings for different types of disease. Also, you can check your health status by taking different tests that used to diagnose cancer: CBC (complete blood count) - measures a number of different blood cells and blood cancers can be revealed using it; blood protein testing - detect various proteins in your blood; tumor marker test (tumor markers are chemicals created by tumor cells that can be found in your blood): PSA (prostate-specific antigen) for detecting prostate cancer, AFP (alpha-feto protein) for liver cancer, cancer antigen 125 for ovarian disease, HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) for testicular cancer; CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) that detects colon, lung, breast, liver cancers.
This disease treatment depends on type of disease and location, the stage of disease, age and health status of patient and other personal stuff. There is no particular treatment for cancer, and it might be a mix of therapies, palliative care, and medication. We can specify some practices that used for treatment: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, gene therapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy.
For example, lung cancer can be treated with surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, early bladder disease can be removed by surgery, breast disease includes variety types of treatment as radiotherapy, surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological therapy, and prostate cancer usually require surgery, radiotherapy or hormone therapy.
It’s important to remember that some types of cancer can be prevented by not smoking, limiting alcohol (lung, throat, liver cancer), protecting from the sun (skin cancer), eating healthy food and having enough of physical activities per day. Moreover, if you will be regularly checking your health condition and do screenings to catch out any cancer signs your treatment prognosis is not going to be hardly curable. As early as treatment is started as higher possibility of its effectivity. At the early stages, cancer doesn’t cause death, if all needed treatment was done around 90 percent of cases are recovered.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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