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Cancer: Risk Factors and Preventive Measures

Updated on October 10, 2015

Uniting against cancer

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Cancer is one of the leading cause of mortality in the world. According to World Health Organization (WHO), in year 2012, there were 8.2 million cancer related deaths globally. It is therefore a disease of global concern. U.s statisticians predict that there will be 1.6 million cases of Cancer in Year 2015 in United States of America alone. The most common cases of cancer projected are breast, lung , bronchus, prostrate, bladder, thyroid cancers. Screening and early detection of cancer offers the higher chances of survival because cancer also has levels of growth and development. This article will focus on what causes cancer and its progress and the ways through which we can avoid this disease.

Parts of the lungs affected by cancer

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Lung cancer

It is one of the most common types of cancer. It has caused has caused 1.59 million deaths globally. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are persistent cough, difficulties or pain while breathing, unexplained loss of weight and tiredness. It is more common in old people. About 90% of cases of lung cancer are associated with smoking. The tobacco smoke in cigarettes has about 7000 different chemicals 70 of which are believed to increase the chances of getting lung cancer. The risk increases with the number of years one has smoked and also the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Second hand smoke from smokers to non smokers also increases the risks of getting this disease because one also inhales these chemicals on smoke. Another chemical which has been found to increase the risk of getting lung cancer is Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It mainly comes from rocks. The concentration level in rocks varies from place to place. Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Other notable causes of cancer include asbestos and diesel exhausts.

People who are immune-suppressed due to conditions like HIV/AIDs also have higher chances of getting cancer.

Preventing lung cancer

Testing construction rocks to determine radon levels will help you avoid materials which emit high levels of radon.

Quit smoking or stay close to a smoker. As mentioned earlier, cigarette smoke contain high amounts of chemicals which cause cancer.

Early screening will help in early identification and hence early treatment will increase chances of survival.

Breast cancer

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Breast cancer

It is one of the most common types of cancer especially among women over 50 years. It occurs when cancerous cells in breast multiply uncontrollably. Symptoms of breast cancer include a lump or dimpling on the breast or change in size or shape of one breast, rash or discharge from nipple.

The risk factors for getting cancer include sex, where females have a higher risk of getting cancer than men. It is also common among women who are 55 years old and above. Breast cancer can also be a hereditary disease which means that if a parent has had a disease, there a chances that the offspring may get the disease.

Ways of preventing breast cancer are not fully known as the causative factors still remain unclear. However, exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet helps boost body’s immunity against cancer. Researchers have also shown that women who take alcohol have higher chances of getting breast cancer.

Regular screening helps in early detection of cancerous cells so that treatment can be done as early as possible.

Prostate cancer

It affects the prostate gland in the male reproductive organs. Prostate gland release fluid which nourishes and protects sperm cells. In USA year 2015, there are 220,800 cases of prostate cancer and 27, 540 deaths. It is more common in men above 55 years. Symptoms of prostate cancer include pain in the testicle, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.

The risk factors for prostate cancer include age, where older men above 50 years have higher chances of getting this cancer. Diet rich red meat and obesity also increase chances of getting prostate cancer. Exposure to harmful chemicals in workplaces has also been found to promote the occurrence of this disease.

Eating diet rich in vegetables helps in lowering chances of getting prostate cancer. Just like in any other forms of cancer, exercising regularly also prevents the incidences of prostate cancer as it helps maintain normal body weight. Other researches have shown that men who regularly take aspirin, mineral and vitamin supplements have lower chance of getting prostate cancer.

Screening helps in the early detection of this disease. Early treatment raises chances of survival.

A photo showing melanoma

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Skin cancer

There are two types of skin cancer. Melanoma and non melanoma skin cancer. In non melanoma skin cancer, cancer cells develop in the upper skin layers. In melanoma skin cancer, the skin develops abnormally.

The signs of melanoma skin cancer include development of a mole in any part of the skin and abnormal development of skin. In non melanoma cancer, there is development of a lump in any area of the skin.

The exposure to U.V rays of sunlight increase chances of getting both types of cancer. U.V rays from sunlight causes damage to DNA of upper layer of skin cells. The most dangerous type of ultraviolet ray of light is Ultraviolet B. Other proven causes of non- melanoma skin cancer include light from sunlamps and tanning beds. Researchers have also found that anti-oxidant known as N acetylcysteine also increase chances of getting melanoma cancer in rats. Tanning of skin which is done in salons using U.V lights also damage DNA in cells hence increasing chances of getting melanoma and non melanoma cancer.

Applying sunscreens while working outdoor will help prevent the penetration of harmful rays of the sun through the skin and hence prevent these two types of cancer. People should also avoid sources of light which release harmful Ultra violet rays like sun beams. Also, avoiding chemicals or procedures which may damage DNA prevent skin cancer.

Early diagnosis and treatment just like in other types of cancer increase chances of successful treatment.

Colon polyp

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Colorectal cancer

This type of cancer affects colon and rectal parts of the large intestine. Its symptoms include dark colored stool or blood stains in stool, diarrhea or constipation. Other general symptoms include unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite and tiredness. The risk factors for colorectal cancer include ulcerative colitis which is the inflammation of colon, growth on the inner linings of the colon or what is commonly known as colon polyps. A family history of colon cancer is also a risk factor.

This type of cancer can be prevented through healthy lifestyle. This include through eating balanced diet, avoiding smoking and taking alcohol and exercising. Screening helps in early detection and treatment and thus increases survival rates.

Cancer cells in bladder

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Bladder cancer

This type of cancer affects the urinary bladder which stores urine before urination. There are different types of bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is more common in men than in women. The most common one is urothellal carcinoma which affects urothelial cells which line up the bladder. Its signs and symptoms include blood in urine or hematuria, pain or itches during urination, or increased urges to urinate. Other general symptoms include loss of appetite, general loss of weight and bone pain. Swelling of feet is also common in some people.

The risk factors for bladder cancer include; smoking. Smoking according to researchers raises chances of getting bladder cancer by 3 times as chemicals in cigarettes are filtered out of the body through urine and accumulate in kidneys and urinary bladder. Exposure to chemicals in industries also raises chances of getting urinary cancer. Chronic infection of kidneys e.g. by bacteria also is a risk factor. Also, parasitic infestation e.g. by schistosoma haematobium which cause bilharzias

The prevention measures include avoiding smoking and other healthy lifestyles.Also, screening helps in early detection. Early treatment increases survival rates.

Tumour of the liver

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Liver cancer

Liver is an important body organ. It is involved in homeostatic body activities like balancing body nutrients. It is also involved in the metabolism of drugs in the blood. Liver cancer affects liver cells. Its symptoms include vomiting, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and yellowing of eyes and skin (jaundice). The risk factors include previous cases of liver cirrhosis or hepatitis infection. Obesity and unhealthy diet which promote the occurrence of fatty liver diseases have also been mentioned as risk factors for liver cancer.

Preventive measures include measures which prevent diseases like liver cirrhosis and hepatitis. They include avoiding alcohol which causes liver cirrhosis, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

Cancer and alcohol

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    • roselinsojan profile image

      roselinsojan 2 years ago from India,Kerala.

      Thank you happy moments for giving information about cancer.and it is very helpful.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 2 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      I really find your suggestions for prevention very helpful.

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