Cancer, Causes, Prevention And Treatment

Cancer, Causes, Prevention

Cancer, Causes, Prevention And Treatment. It is not unusual for persons to receive a cancer diagnosis out of the blues. Unfortunately, it may be too late to adequately intervene. This is more common in countries were access to affordable healthcare is limited.

What is Cancer?

According to the book ‘Causes of Cancer’, it is a state where some human cells begin to multiply inappropriately therefore producing millions of similarly affected self-replicating cells. Some of these abnormal cells ‘may spread to other parts of the body and eventually overwhelm it.’ When an abnormal mass is formed it is referred to as a tumor. Although, the word cancer usually makes a person feel anxious, not all tumors are deadly. When abnormal cells do not invade other cells in the body, it is termed benign tumor while malignant cancer generally destroys other cells as they proliferate.

Cancer, Causes, Prevention And Treatment

What are the common types of cancer?

According to World Cancer Research Fund International, the 5 most common types are lung, Breast and colorectal, stomach and prostate cancers. Indeed, these cancers account for most of the 8.2 million cancer related deaths that occur annually. However, the prevalence of cancers varies from one region to another and also depends on gender, age and family history. For example, apart from breast cancer, cervical cancer accounts for of most female cancer deaths in Nigeria. In contrast, lung cancer is the second leading cancer among women in the United States. That is why, cancer prevention efforts are guided the knowledge of what is most prevalent in an area.

What are the main causes of cancers?

No specific factor has been found to cause cancer on its own. However, research suggests that multiple factors contribute in different ways to cancers. Some cancers are more likely to occur in susceptible families. For instance family history of breast cancer may increase the risk. Apart from genetic factors, several agents and conditions have been linked to different cancers.

Cancer, Causes, Prevention

Cancer, Causes, Prevention And Treatment

What common symptoms and signs should you look for?

You should not ignore any unusual changes in your body. Although, these symptoms may be caused by other illnesses, don’t hesitate to see your doctor if you observe any of the following:

Some common symptoms you should always look out for are:
Unusual Lump or swelling anywhere on your body
Unexplained breast changes –Lumps, changes in size, shape, feel and discharge
Persistent cough, chest pain or breathlessness
Croaky voice or hoarseness
Changes in bowel habits such as unexplained diarrhea, constipation or persistent bloating
Unexplained weight loss
Wounds or ulcers that won’t heal
Unusual bleeding such as blood in vomit, sputum or urine
Obvious changes in the color, size, and texture of a mole
Problems with urinating

Can Cancers be prevented?

Making healthier diet and lifestyle choices may help you prevent cancers. One way of preventing cancer is to consciously avoid agents and conditions that have a confirmed link with cancer. So, you should consciously try to avoid the following:

Excessive alcohol use
Parasitic infections such as Schistostoma haematoma
Multiple sexual partners
Moldy groundnuts

Having regular medical check-ups makes early detection and treatment possible. That is why, apart from breast cancer screening, a pap smear may be needed to screen for cervical cancer in women. Additionally, prostate cancer screening may be offered if the person is at risk. This may be by rectal examination or test to determine the level of prostate specific antigen in the blood.

Cancer, Causes, Prevention And Treatment

What types of treatment are available?

Treatment is aimed at removing all cancer cells in the body which is quite difficult. In late stages, cancer cells become widespread and difficult to remove. The main methods according to National Health Services are:

Surgery- This is done to remove the tumour and some surrounding normal tissue. The lump or swelling is usually sent for additional tests to decide on further treatments needed.
Drugs- Medicines are sometimes used to kill cancer cells. However, most have serious side effects.
Radiotherapy-This involves exposing cancer cells to radiation.
Hormone therapy- Altering hormones that promote cancer cell growth. Prostate and Breast cancers respond well to this form of therapy.
Immunotherapy- This strengthens the immune system, leading to the destruction of cancer cells.
Apart from these treatments, some alternative forms of treatment such as herbal medicine may be useful. However, no evidence suggests that alternative therapies cure cancer.

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