Cancer is a disease that results from the uncontrolled proliferation of abnormal cells. These cells could originate in any tissue of the body. They may either be limited to the tissue or spread to other areas in their vicinity because of a particular that occurs at a genetic level.
These changes can either be inherited or result from the influence of certain environmental factors or a mix of both. External factors which induce cancer-like changes in the cells are known as carcinogens.
What are carcinogens?
Carcinogens are external factors that, when interacting with the body, lead can lead to changes at the genetic level.
These external causes are :
- Physical carcinogens on prolonged exposure can also cause a variety of cases like skin cancers etc. Radiation and ultraviolet light are examples of the same.
- Chemical carcinogens like cigarettes, pesticides, asbestos, alcohol, air pollution, and drinking water.
- Biological carcinogens can be viruses, parasites, and even bacteria.
All these factors alone can not cause cancer. It also includes factors like other risk factors that can differ individually.
What are the risk factors for cancer?
The following conditions can act as a risk factor for a person’s cancer development.
- High alcohol content
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive packaged food consumption.
- Exposure to air and sound pollution
- Existing inflammatory disorders like Crohn’s, inflammatory bowel, and acid reflux disease.
Some of these risk factors are also modifiable and can lead to cancer prevention if corrected on time.
Types of cancers
Cancers come in as wide varieties as there are cells in the body. Each of the cancers can be either malignant or even benign. Some cancers can go from malignant to benign.
Based on the nature of cancer to multiply, there can be
Malignant cancers: they multiply and proliferate. They are invasive and are more challenging to treat.
- Benign cancers are slow-growing cancers that take years to cause problems.
- Benign turned malignant tumors: sometimes, slow-growing tumors can lead to their aggressively growing counterparts.
Based on the site or organ of the cancer
- Oral cancer
- Brain cancer
- Blood cancer, bone cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Penile cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Spinal cord cancer.
- Liver cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Stomach cancer
These are some cancers based on the site and organ where the tumor is located.
What is screening for cancer?
Screening of cancer is looking for signs and symptoms that could indicate the presence of cancer in any of the body’s organs.
Screening can be done with blood tests, biochemistry investigations, mammograms, x-rays, urine examinations, etc.
Regular screening programs are recommended for people at increased risk of cancer and older adults.
Early detection of cancer can also facilitate early treatment, which has a better survival rate and prognosis as compared to cancer that is diagnosed.
Screening programs for breast cancer and lung cancers are already prevalent.
What are the warning signs of cancer?
The following are the signs of cancer:
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
- Pain in the body
- Hard mass in the body
- Any lumps or growths
- Change in digestion
- Blood in stools
- Bleeding per vaginum
- Abdominal swelling
A screening program and a thorough full-body checkup are much needed if you experience one or more of these symptoms.