Cancer | Cancer Symptoms, Types, Treatment & Prevention
Cancer | Cancer Symptoms, Types, Treatment & Prevention
It is one of the most dreaded health conditions all around the world. The name cancer has actually become a household name in the medical practice owing to it’s variety and awareness being made in order to curb the disease.
According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Globally, about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.
To the dismay of many, one third of deaths from cancer are due to either one or more of the underlisted 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks;
- High body mass index
- Low fruit and vegetable intake
- Lack of physical activity
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use.
Among the aforementioned causes, tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths around the world. Cancer causing infections, such as hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV), are responsible for up to 25% of cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries.
The earliest known descriptions of cancer appeared in several papyri from Ancient Egypt. The Edwin Smith Papyrus was written around 1600 BC (possibly a fragmentary copy of a text from 2500 BC) and contains a description of cancer, as well as a procedure to remove breast tumours by cauterization.
Hippocrates (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC) described several kinds of cancer, referring to them by the term karkinos (carcinos), the Greek word for crab or crayfish, as well as carcinoma.
What Is Cancer?
According to the World Health organization,
Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs, the latter process is referred to as metastasizing. Metastases are a major cause of death from cancer.
Types Of Cancer
There are well over 90 types of cancer. Some include;
- Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
- Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
- Adrenal gland tumours
- Anal cancer
- Bile duct cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Bone cancer
- Bowel cancer
- Brain tumours
- Breast cancer
- Cancer of unknown primary (CUP)
- Spread to bone
- Cancer spread to brain
- Spread to liver
- Cancer spread to lung
- Cervical cancer
- Children’s cancers
- Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
- Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)
- Colorectal cancer
- Ear cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Eye cancer
- Follicular dendritic cell sarcoma
- Gallbladder cancer
- Gastric cancer
- Gastro oesophageal junction cancers
- Germ cell tumours
- Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD)
- Hairy cell leukaemia
- Head and neck cancer
- Hodgkin lymphoma
- Kaposi’s sarcoma
- Kidney cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Linitis plastica of the stomach
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Lung neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)
- Malignant schwannoma
- Mediastinal germ cell tumours
- Melanoma skin cancer
- Men’s cancer
- Merkel cell skin cancer
- Molar pregnancy
- Mouth and oropharyngeal cancer
- Nasal and paranasal sinus cancer
- Nasopharyngeal cancer
- Neuroendocrine tumours
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
- Oesophageal cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Penile cancer
- Persistent trophoblastic disease and choriocarcinoma
- Prostate cancer
- Pseudomyxoma peritonei
- Rare cancers
- Rectal cancer
- Salivary gland cancer
- Secondary cancer
- Signet cell cancer
- Skin cancer
- Small bowel cancer
- Small bowel neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)
- Soft tissue sarcoma
- Stomach cancer
- Stomach neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)
- T cell childhood non Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
- Testicular cancer
- Thymus gland cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Tongue cancer
- Tonsil cancer
- Tumours of the adrenal gland
- Unknown primary cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulval cancer
- Wilms’ tumour
- Womb cancer
- Women’s cancers (gynaecological cancer)
Symptoms Of Cancer
Knowing your body is key to daignosing any disease that is trying to raise its head including cancer. Cancer in it’s early and late stage generates a lot of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe ones. Some of the common symptoms of cancer could be mistaken for symptoms of other diseases that is why it is always advisable to visit the doctor for proper diagnostics once you feel your body isn’t doing right.
Always remember that anyone can develop cancer, but it’s more common as we get older – most cases are in people aged 50 or over. Some common symptoms of cancer include;
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Very heavy night sweats
- Croaky voice or hoarseness
- Unusual breast changes
- Blood in your poo
- Unexplained pain or ache
- Unusual lump or swelling anywhere
- Blood in your pee
- Problems peeing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent heartburn or indigestion
- Mouth or tongue ulcer that won’t heal
- Persistent bloating
- Difficulty swallowing
- A change in bowel habit, such as constipation, looser poo or pooing more often
- Sore that won’t heal
- Appetite loss
- New mole or changes to a mole
- Coughing up blood
- Persistent cough
As earlier discussed, early diagnosis will help in the treatment of cancer. Good diagnosis is pertinent for effective treatment of the condition. Every cancer type has its own unique treatment procedure. There are various approaches to cancer treatment. These include surgery, Radiotherapy, Hormone Therapy, Biological therapy, Stem Cell transplant and or chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is the use of any drug to treat any disease. Chemo aims to kill cancerous cells with medications that target rapidly dividing cells. chemo can kill cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) to parts of the body far away from the original (primary) tumor The drugs can also help shrink tumors, but the side effects can be severe.
This type of cancer treatment that boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer. It uses substances made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. Immunotherapy may work by:
- Stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells
- Stopping cancer from spreading to other parts of the body
- Helping the immune system work better at destroying cancer cells
There are several types of biological therapy, including:
- Monoclonal antibodies and tumor-agnostic therapies
- Non-specific immunotherapies
- Oncolytic virus therapy
- T-cell therapy
- Cancer vaccines
Radiation therapy or radiotherapy, often abbreviated RT, RTx, or XRT, is therapy using ionizing radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells and normally delivered by a linear accelerator.
Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer that uses hormones to grow. It is also known as hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy.
Stem Cell Transplant
Stem cell transplantsare most often used for cancers affecting the blood or immune system, such as leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma.
Determining the goals of treatment and palliative care is an important first step, and health services should be integrated and people-centred. The primary goal is generally to cure cancer or to considerably prolong life. Improving the patient’s quality of life is also an important goal. This can be achieved by supportive or palliative care and psycho-social support.
The simplest ways to prevent cancer is to avoid the risk factors. Here are some tips on how to prevent cancer;
Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer. Calories count; if you need to slim down, take in fewer calories and burn more with exercise.
Reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which appears to increase the risk of colon and prostate cancers.
Take low-dose aspirin
Men who take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs appear to have a lower risk of colon cancer and possibly prostate cancer.
Avoid Exposure to Radiation.
Check your home for residential radon, which increases the risk of lung cancer. Protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, which increases the risk of melanomas and other skin cancers.
Avoid infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and the human papillomavirus.
Get enough vitamin D.
Evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies. But don’t count on other supplements.
Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, and it may even help prevent prostate cancer.
If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one to two drinks a day.
Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls.
Avoid tobacco in all its forms, including exposure to secondhand smoke.