There are countless cells in our body. However, sometimes cells begin to grow at an uncontrolled growth rate. This uncontrolled growth of cells is medically referred to as cancer or tumor. It damages surrounding tissues and can spread to other parts of the body through the blood or lymph nodes. There are more than 100 types of cancer. The most common include breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.
When cancer cells begin to grow abnormally, they negatively affect surrounding organs and nerves. That’s when the symptoms of cancer start manifesting. When cancer originates in a delicate organ like the brain, even a small tumor causes a lot of pain and many other symptoms. Some specific types of cancer show no symptoms until the cell growth increases in size, such as cancer of the pancreas.
What Causes Cancer?
The mutation of cell DNA causes cancer. The DNA in a cell includes many genes. Each gene instructs cell function and growth. A mutation in the DNA ensures that the cell can no longer perform its natural functions. This change in cell functions ultimately causes cancer.
What Factors Cause Gene Mutation?
Gene mutation arises from the following factors:
- Gene mutations at birth. An individual can be born with a gene mutation passed from parents to siblings or from one generation to the next.
- Gene mutations after birthMost gene mutations do not occur until after birth. One of the most important factors can be your lifestyle. Smoking, use of hazardous chemicals, obesity, age, viruses, etc. are common elements that can cause gene mutations.
What are the most common cancer symptoms?
symptoms of cancer vary with the organ or body part most commonly affected. Something general symptoms of cancer are mentioned below.
- Dysphagia. Dysphagia means difficulty swallowing. This symptom is noticeable in esophageal and throat cancer.
- fatigue, Most people with cancer suffer from fatigue. The constant feeling of tiredness caused by cancer is different from general tiredness. Fatigue can be particularly constant and severe with bone marrow cancer.
- Changes in weight. cancer can cause rapid weight loss. Some specific types of cancer can cause abdominal swelling, leading to sudden and unintentional weight gain.
- Dyspepsia after every meal. Cancer causes the degeneration of healthy cells, which causes fatigue and restlessness.
- Bleed. Because abnormal cells damage blood vessels, bleeding problems can manifest as symptoms of cancer.
- Constant fever or sweating. Fever is considered an early symptom of blood cancer. It can be a symptom in all types of cancer, as resistance to infection decreases due to the weak immune system.
- Changes in skin color. You may notice changes in skin color. This change may be due to the growth of cancer or the treatment of the disease.
- Inability of wounds to heal. If wounds don’t heal, it could be a symptom of skin cancer.
- Dyspnoea. Dyspnea refers to shortness of breath. Dyspnea can be a symptoms of cancer,
- hoarseness of voices s. Cancer of the larynx or lungs can cause hoarseness. This can also affect your speech.
- Arthralgia. Cancer and its treatment can cause constant pain in the joints and muscles.
Read also about: Head and neck cancer
When to see a doctor
If you experience any of the above symptoms of cancer persist and you suspect that you are suffering from the disease, see a doctor immediately. Early detection and prompt treatment of cancer increase the chance of elimination and survival.
What are the risk factors of cancer?
Some risk factors for cancer are:
Your family history. The risk of developing cancer depends to a large extent on family history. Gene mutations can be passed from one generation to another. However, keep in mind that an inherited gene mutation is not the only and primary risk factor for cancer.
Your age. Age is also a risk factor for cancer. The disease is more common in adults, although it can occur at any age. People older than 65 years are an important risk group for cancer.
Your environment. Continued exposure to carcinogens increases the risk of cancer. A carcinogen is any substance or other element that promotes the development of cancer. Benzene, asbestos, beryllium and vinyl chloride are some cancer-causing chemicals. Prolonged exposure to such chemicals can cause cancer. Smoking can also cause cancer; even those who live near smokers may be at risk.
Your habits. An individual’s lifestyle can increase the risk of cancer. Excessive smoking, alcohol consumption and the use of harmful drugs can cause cancer. Unsafe sex also increases the risk of cancer. In addition to other lifestyle factors, continued exposure to heat and stroke (sunburn) also increase the risk.
Chronic health problems. A few other diseases also increase the risk of cancer. Ulcerative colitis is one of them.
What Are the Complications of Cancer?
Complications of cancer occur when the disease is left untreated and sometimes even after treatment. Some common complications of cancer include:
- fatigue, If you are a cancer patient, you may suffer from fatigue. Fatigue is common in patients undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy. But it is treatable and usually doesn’t last long.
- pain, Cancer can be painful. Proper treatment and effective medications can relieve a patient’s pain.
- weight loss, Weight loss occurs when the cancer is left untreated and even during cancer treatment. To remedy this complication, the doctor may arrange for nutrition to be administered through a tube. But sometimes this remedy cannot stop weight loss.
- Spread to other organs/parts, If cancer is left untreated or the treatment doesn’t work, it can reach other parts of the body. How cancer spreads depends on its type.
- Constipation, Untreated cancer or treatment of the disease can affect the intestines and cause constipation and diarrhea. These can be treated with medication, but can recur.
- Changes to body chemistry, Cancer can cause chemical changes in the body, affecting the chemical balance and causing many complications. Disturbances in the chemical balance can lead to constipation, frequent thirst and frequent urination.
- nausea, This is a common side effect of cancer treatment. It is possible to manage nausea with medication or other treatment.
- Effects on the nervous system, The area primarily affected by cancer puts pressure on surrounding tissues, inflammation may also occur. Brain cancer or any other cancer that spreads to the brain can affect nerve cells and cause headaches and other major problems.
- Paraneoplastic syndrome, Sometimes cancer makes our immune system the enemy of the body. When cancer-fighting antibodies for some reason begin to damage healthy cells of the nervous system, it is called paraneoplastic syndrome. This syndrome is more common in patients with breast cancer, lymph cancer, lung cancer, etc.
Headaches, dizziness, memory loss, decreased vision, and other vision-related problems can occur with paraneoplastic syndrome.
What are the diagnostic methods for cancer?
Many tests are performed to detect and diagnose cancer. The most common are:
- imaging tests, The doctor uses imaging techniques such as MRI, CT scan, X-rays, etc. to detect cancer.
- biopsy, The cells from the affected area are collected and sent for laboratory testing.
- other llaboratory testing. Blood and urine are tested to detect cancer.
What is the treatment for cancer?
Doctors determine treatment methods for cancer based on its location, stage, and type. Some well-known methods of treating cancer are:
chemotherapy, This therapy uses drugs to stop the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. In modern chemotherapy, the drug is injected intravenously or administered orally.
surgery, Doctors remove the tumor or tissues that contain cancer with surgery. If cancer has not spread throughout the body, surgery may be the best treatment option.
Radiation treatment, This type of treatment uses radiation to destroy the cells and tissues affected by cancer. It is painless, but there may be some swelling and pain in the affected area after the treatment.
Bone marrow transplant, It is also called stem cell transplant. During treatment, the defective bone marrow is replaced by healthier bone marrow.
Immunotherapy, This therapy helps our immune system fight cancer cells. It is also called biological therapy.
photodynamic therapy, In this therapy, doctors first inject a specific drug into the blood and then destroy the cancer cells through light activation.
What are the cancer prevention methods?
It is currently impossible to exclude all chances of getting cancer. But precautions can and should be taken to reduce the risk of cancer, such as:
- Limit consumption or do not consume alcohol, Alcohol increases the risk of cancer. If you are addicted to it, you need to break the habit slowly. If someone over the age of 65 drinks a lot of alcohol, there is a clear risk of cancer.
- Do not expose yourself too much to the sun, Sunlight is necessary for the body, but exposing yourself to strong rays for a long time puts you at risk of cancer; Harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun cause skin cancer.
Read also about: Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin
- Practice daily, Exercise reduces the risk of cancer. You should exercise for 20 to 30 minutes every day. Cardio exercises are more beneficial. If you can’t exercise daily, try to do it at least four days a week.
- Watch your weight, Obesity increases the risk of cancer. Follow a good diet and keep your body fit.
If you notice symptoms related to cancer, get checked out by a doctor immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Can I get cancer again?
Yes. If you have had cancer before, the disease may come back. After completing cancer treatment, seek advice from your doctor about ways to stay in remission and prevent a recurrence.