What we need to know about CancerMar 12 2013 · 10 comments · Medical
The average person has very limited or no knowledge about cancer; the world’s deadliest disease which claims the lives of millions of people each year. We need to be educated what cancer is – the causes, the signs and symptoms, the types of cancer that exists, how it can be diagnosed and what treatments are available.
What is cancer?
Cancer can be defined as tumor or malignant growth resulting from a division of cells in a specific part of the body.
Cancer harms the body when the damaged cells divide uncontrollably to form a mass of tissue called a tumor. Tumors can grow and obstruct the digestive, nervous, and circulatory systems, and they can release hormones that change the normal body function.
Types of Tumors
- Benign tumor cells (non-cancerous) stay in one place in the body; they show limited growth and are not usually life-threatening.
- Malignant tumor cell (cancerous) spread throughout the body using the blood or lymph systems, destroying healthy tissue. This result in a serious condition that is very difficult to treat.
What causes cancer?
Cancer is a complex disease with many possible causes. Each cancer type is different and that means the causes will vary. However, the cause of many cancers remains unknown.
- Genetics (genes we inherit from our parents)
- Diet and physical activity (alcohol)
- Environment risks (sun, UV exposure, radiation, pollution, viruses, chemicals)
- Poor Immune system (Organ transplant & HIV patients)
General signs and symptoms of Cancer
Cancer symptoms are quite varied and depend on where the cancer is located, where it has spread, and how big the tumor is. As cancer progresses to an advanced stage, common symptoms can include weight loss, fever, and fatigue. Other symptoms can be as follows:
- The presence of an unusual lump in the body
- Changes in a mole on the skin
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained Pain
- Unexplained Fever
- heavy sweating at night
- Skin changes
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Change in bowel habits or bladder function
- Sores that do not heal
- Unusual bleeding or discharge
- Indigestion or trouble swallowing
- Nagging cough or hoarseness
- Coughing up blood
Types of cancer
There are more than 200 different types of cancer and each one is classified by the type of cell that is initially affected. The most common types of cancer include prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, colorectal cancer, lymphoma cancer, bladder cancer pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer. The most common type of cancer in women is breast cancer, whilst prostate cancer is most common in men.
Keep up with Cancer Research
Cancer research the last hundred years have overshadowed the previous decade. Physicians treat cancer patients with cures no one thought would be possible. Years ago doctors were told not to specialize in oncology because of the complexity of the disease and the disappointing clinical outcomes.
Physicians and researchers who specialize in the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer are called oncologists. Today, Oncology is one of the most exciting fields in biomedicine.
How to take care of cancer is once again in the news as various researchers have come up with new ideas to beat cancer.
- The Cancer Research UK’s scientists and more than 50 experts is giving their time and expertise to develop a mobile phone game to speed up cancer research.
- According to a study that was released recently the incidence of advanced breast cancer among younger women may have increased slightly over the last three decades.
- Research showed that women with late-stage breast cancer have lower survival rates in the UK than five other high-income countries.
- The way cancers make a chaotic mess of their genetic code in order to thrive has been explained by UK researchers.
The Oncology facilities in Cape Town are well-known worldwide and are visited by our international patients on a regular basis because of its efficiency, commitment to excellence, and its holistic approach towards cancer care. Patients can be assured of treatment in line with the best available anywhere in the world.
In our next medical blog we will focus on the different types of cancer, how it can be diagnosed and what treatments are available.