Detecting the abnormal Cancer cells in us
The word Cancer invokes in us fear. It is the most common cause of death after heart disease. Every person has cancer cells in his body but under normal circumstances, his immune system is strong enough to destroy and control these cells from multiplying; hence any standard tests for cancer would show negative as it wouldn’t detect them.
Every cancer is thought to start from one abnormal cell. The genes which control the multiplication and functioning of a cell are altered or damaged, causing the cell to multiply abnormally. There are over 200 known types of cancer.
Cancer can be cured if detected early but some cancers develop without any symptoms. For example, pancreatic cancer does not usually grow large enough to be felt outside your body.
Some Cancer signs and symptoms
· Persistent cough or blood tinged saliva though usually represent infections like bronchitis or sinusitis, it could be symptoms of cancer of your lung, head and neck. Should consult a doctor if these last for more than a month.
· A change in bowel habits like continuous diarrhea or pencil thin stools with the appearance of blood or abnormal bowel complaints lasting for many days are usually signs of colon cancer
· Unexplained Anemia or less number of red blood cells in your blood should be investigated.
· Breast lump is mostly non-cancerous tumors but all lumps need to be investigated. This generally requires biopsy or a needle aspiration. Women are advised to conduct monthly self breast examinations for breast cancer.
· Lumps in the testicles which may be painless or uncomfortable must be examined. Men are advised to conduct monthly self testicular examinations for testicular cancer.
· A change in urination including frequent urination, small and slow urine flow can be caused by urinary infections or in men by an enlarged prostrate gland. These need to be examined; also cancer of the bladder and pelvic tumors can also cause irritation of the bladder and urinary frequency.
· Blood in the urine can also be caused by urinary infection, kidney stones, but can be a symptom of cancer of bladder or kidney. For this, a sample of blood and urine must be investigated.
· Hoarseness lasting for more than a month should be examined. It can be caused by simple allergy or by vocal cord polyps but can also be a sign of cancer of the throat.
· Persistent lumps or swollen glands should be examined by your doctor, as these can represent lymph gland cancer.
· An obvious change in a wart or a mole and that which bleeds may be cancerous and should be examined for skin cancer.
· Difficulty in indigestion and swallowing must be examined by the doctor for the cancer of the esophagus.
· Unusual, heavy vaginal bleeding or discharge may be an early sign of uterus cancer especially among post menopause women. Evaluation includes endometrial biopsy in which a small tissue sample from inside the uterus is taken and tested.
· Unexpected weight loss, night sweats or fever might also be signs of cancer
· Skin colour changes and itching should also be examined by a doctor.
· Non healing sores, severe and unrelenting head aches, back pain, pelvic pain should not be disregarded.
The risk factors that increasing your chance of having cancer are
1. Chemical carcinogens that alter the cell and making it cancerous are tobacco smoke causing lung cancer, work place chemicals like asbestos, benzene, formaldehyde etc.
2. Age- with age your immunity decreases and your body’s capacity to destroy abnormal cells decreases.
3. Life style factors can contribute e.g. obesity, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, eating too much of fatty food. If we eat more of fruits and vegetables we are at a lesser risk of developing cancer cells.
4. Radiation- exposure to sun and other radiations can increase your chance of producing cancerous cells.
5. Genetic make up- it is the abnormal gene that triggers cancer.
Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells. But it also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc. As a result of chemotherapy, patients have side effects like loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, hair loss and mouth sores.
Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.
Avoid coffee, tea and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties.
We should all eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables daily (some experts recommend even more).
Drink purified water.
Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger and bitterness put the body into a stressful environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life. Exercise daily.