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Cancer - Ways to Conquer This Dreaded Disease
What is this disease called cancer? What causes this disease which seems to appear from nowhere? Where does it come from and why do so many people dread it and avoid it like the plague?
Cancer occurs when the growth of cells in the body gets out of control and out of the normal process.
This uncontrolled growth results to what we call malignant tumors which eventually cause harm and damage to other healthy organs in the body. Not all tumors, though are cancerous. The ones that are not harmful to the body are called benign tumors.
Normal cells mutate into cancer cells when the structure of the genes responsible for regulating the growth and development of cells have been drastically transformed.
Chemoprevention is a word that refers to the different methods used to prevent cancer using the natural or artificial means to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells in the body.
CAUSES OF CANCER
Medical experts say that it is difficult to determine what exactly causes cancer but many different factors contribute to its growth and development. Some of these factors that contribute to the growth of cancer are:
Chemicals that cause cancer are called mutagens, from the word "mutate", because they cause a person's DNA to mutate or to undergo changes that cause damage to a person's genetic structure. Mutagens that cause cancer are called carcinogens.
Chemicals found in tobacco are considered the number one cause of cancer. Statistics show that the smoke coming from tobacco contains about 50 kinds of chemicals that cause cancer including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrosamines. Smoking is the cause of one in every 5 deaths that occur worldwide and one in every 3 deaths that occur in the developed and richer countries.
Previous studies have demonstrated that smoking has been associated with the high incidence of cancer of the lungs, esophagus, larynx, stomach, kidneys, bladder, head, neck and pancreas.
Cancer caused by chemicals in the workplace is also prevalent. The most known chemical to cause cancer in the workplace is asbestos which causes mesothelioma, the growth and development of cancer in the mesothelium, the delicate lining that protects our internal organs.
The lungs is the part of the body where mesothelioma commonly develops, particularly in the pleura, the lining that protects the exterior of the lungs and the walls of the chest.
Many people think that cancer is hereditary; that if our mother or father or another relative has cancer, we too can inherit the disease. Medical references, however, say that most types of cancers are not inherited meaning the disease did not come from any member of the family. If it is inherited then it could have been caused by a defect in the genes of a particular family member.
A very small percentage of the population - about 0.3 percent - are carriers of defective genes which accounts for 3 to 10 percent of all incidence of cancer worldwide. These inherited types of cancer include breast cancer, cancer of the ovary, Lynch syndrome or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).
There are two sources of radiation that can cause cancer: the ionizing radiation and the non-ionizing radiation.
Ionizing radiation is emitted from either natural or man-made nuclear sources. An example of ionizing radiation is x-ray. Radiation cannot be detected by merely using our five senses and requires an instrument called a Geiger counter to determine its presence in the environment.
Non-ionizing radiation is the type of radiation emitted from sources where there is not enough energy to ionize the atoms.
Certain types of hormones are primarily responsible for the growth and proliferation of cancer cells especially those that affect the female and male reproductive organs such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, cancer of the endometrium, prostate cancer, cancer of the testis and also include bone cancer and thyroid cancer.
Infections in the body can cause cancer due to the presence of viruses, bacteria and parasites in the affected organs. Many diseases common to man are caused by some kind of viruses such as cervical cancer, liver cancer, cancer of the nasopharynx, Kaposi's sarcoma, and leukemia of the T cells.
Our well-being depends on the kind of food we eat to nourish our body. Diet, together with obesity and the lack of physical exertion accounts for 30 to 35 percent of deaths by cancer. Obesity has been associated with different types of cancer and accounts for 14 to 20 percent of total deaths.
Another factor that contributes to cancer risk is physical inactivity because of its adverse effect on a person's body weight, his endocrine and immune systems.
A diet that is deficient in fruits and vegetables and whole grains are linked to various types of cancers.
A diet high in salt is associated with cancer of the intestines.
A diet which would often contain aflatoxin B1 is associated with cancer of the liver.
A person who regularly chews betel nut can get cancer of the mouth.
There are certain substances that cause cancer through prolonged exposure to these substances. A classic example is asbestos which is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that affects the mesothelium, the delicate membranes that line a person's internal organs.
A survey conducted among cancer survivors about what they thought caused their cancer placed heredity as the number one cause; smoking came second followed by environmental and psychosocial factors.
Iron can also cause cancer
Previous clinical research and invetigations suggest that iron my cause cancer in three different ways:
- Superoxide reduces ferric ions into a kind of a ferrous product which gets reoxidized by the action or peroxide resulting to the production of ferric ions to produce hydroxyl radicals.
- Iron can promote the growth of neoplastic cells by weakening the defense mechanism ofthe host. An excess of iron prevents the activity of CD4 lymphocytes.
- Iron can cause cancer as it functions as an important nutrient for the muliplication of tumor cells.
Types of cancer
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CANCER
1. Cough or hoarseness of throat that does not go away
2. Chronic indigestion and problem in swallowing
3. An unexplainable presence of lump in the body
4. Abnormal vaginal bleeding and presence of blood in the urine and stool
5.A mole that changes its color and texture
6. Unusual occurrence of constipation and diarrhea
7. A body sore that does not go away
8. Difficulty in urinating
9. Unusual sweating at night
10. Sudden and unusual appearance of rashes
11. Unexplainable source of pain
12. Unexplainable loss of weight and appetite
13. Unexplainable cause of fatigue and tiredness
Here is a list of what are considered the most common types of cancer based on the number of occurrences of each cancer type in the United States.
Lung Cancer is a type of cancer that affects the tissues of the lungs. This disease called primary lung cancer and given the medical term carcinoma, originates from the epithelial cells, the tissues that line the surface of the lungs.
The 2 types of lung cancer are small-cell lung carcinoma and the non-small-cell lung carcinoma.
Common signs of lung cancer are coughing, sometimes with blood, difficulty breathing, and loss of weight but the the signs are determined by how the cancer cells are spreading, its effects on the body and the location of the cancer growth.
Cigarette smoking is considered the major cause of lung cancer. Cigarettes are known to contain 60 types of cancer-causing chemicals among them, nitrosamine, benzopyrene and radio isotopes. Nicotine, although not a cancer-causing substance significantly weakens the immune system making it less able to prevent the growth of malignant tumors.
Regularly eating citrus fruits will greatly help in strengthening and keeping your lungs healthy. You can also supplement your diet with vitamin C for healthy lungs and for resistance to various diseases.
How to prevent lung cancer
The best way to prevent lung cancer is to avoid, at all costs, cancer-causing substances that can be transmitted by air such as smoke and polluted air and to always include in the diet vegetables and fresh fruits such as oranges, lemons, guavas, pomelos and others.
Evidence from previous studies show that smokers who have been taking huge amounts of beta carotene and vitamin A supplements made their lung cancer worse.
Prostate cancer affects the prostate glands. The cancer cells in the prostate can spread to the lymph nodes and bones.
Common signs of prostate cancer:
- blood in the urine (hematuria)
- painful urination (dysuria)
- increased urination at night (nocturia)
- difficulty urinating
- erectile dysfunction
- difficulty having sex
What to do: You need to see a doctor but before you do, there are things that you need to write down so you can inform your doctor about them:
- Take note of the changes,signs and symptoms that you have noticed taking place in your body
- Write down all the medications you have taken since finding out that you have prostate problem.
- Write down all the questions you would like to ask your doctor
- If it is indeed prostate cancer, ask what stage it is.and how to treat it.
Pancreatic cancer originates from the tissues of the pancreas. It is the 4th leading cause of death in the US and the 8th in the world.
The most common type of pancreatic cancer is Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) which is diagnosed unfortunately only after the disease has reached its advance stage. The patient usually dies within a year it is diagnosed.
The latest update on pancreatic cancer is that the presence of a large number of branched chain amino acids in a cancer patient's blood may help detect pancreatic cancer early. Reseachers revealed that an increase in the amount of BCAAs in the blood indicates the presence of tumor in the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer does not show any symptoms in its early stage; however, by the time it is detected, cancer cells will have metastasized and already in its advanced stage.
Treatment of pancreatic cancer will depend on the stage of the cancer which could either be surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
Common signs of pancreatic cancer:
- weight loss
- pain in the upper part of the abdomen
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- heartburn, acidity
- yellowing of the skin
Colorectal cancer is more of a lifestyle rather than an inherited disease. It is a result of the impaired growth of cells in the large intestines particularly in the rectum and colon, and in the appendix area.
Common signs of colorectal cancer:
- bleeding in the rectum
- appetite and weight loss
- streaks of blood in the stool, and
- constipation that is getting worse.
Breast cancer originates from the ducts or lobules, parts of the breast that are the main source of milk.
Common signs of breast cancer:
- lump that can be felt in the breasts
- breasts will gradually have different sizes
- nipples will slowly become inverted
Endometrial Cancer is the most common type of gynecologic cancer with approximately 35,000 women diagnosed of the disease each year in the US. This type of cancer, also called uterine cancer, occurs in the lining of the uterus called endometrium.
Common signs of endometrial cancer:
- low blood pressure
- pain in the lower abdomen
- weight gain
- presence of lymph nodes at the back of the head, in the neck, clavicles and chin
- uncontrolled urination
- for postmenopausal women: there is vaginal spotting, bleeding in between menstrual periods, and a clear, white discharge.
Bladder cancer is a type of disease where there is uncontrolled growth of cancer cells in the bladder.
As in all types of cancer, the main cause is always tobacco smoking.
Common signs of bladder cancer:
- blood in the urine
- pain when passing urine
- frequent trips to the toilet
- feeling of wanting to urinate but cannot pass urine.
Thyroid cancer originates from the follicular and parafollicular cells of the thyroid gland.
Removal of the thyroid gland or thyroidectomy is the best way to treat thyroid cancer. This is accompanied by TSH suppression therapy, and radioactive iodine ablation.
Common signs of thyroid cancer:
- first sign that a thyroid patient notices is a nodule in the neck where the thyroid gland is located.
- an enlarged lymph node is another sign
- pain in the lower part of the neck
- voice will change as the recurrent laryngeal nerve will eventually be involved
Non-hodgkin's lymphoma or NHL includes all types of lymphoma or cancer of the blood particularly of the lymphocytes or white blood cells.
Common symptoms of NHL
- swollen lymph nodes in the groin, armpits and neck areas
- difficulty breathing accompanied with chest pain and coughing
- chronic fatigue
- bloating and pain in the abdomen
- skin itching
- low-grade fever
- sweating especially at night
- unexplained loss of weight
Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow or the blood which involves the proliferation of blasts or white blood cells.
Leukemia is a disease that is easy to treat using chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, hormone treatment and medical radiation therapy. The success of the treatment will greatly depend on the patient's age and the type of leukemia the patient is suffering from.
Common signs of leukemia:
- Excessive bleeding
- Weak immune system
- Swollen lymph nodes
Three types of skin cancer:
Squamous cell carcinoma
Malignant melanoma is a type of malignant tumor of the cells that produce melanin, the brown pigment that can be found in the bottom layer of the skin, the uvea (middle layer of the eyes), the heart, the lining of the brain, and the bones.
Common signs of malignant melanoma:
- Growth of lump in the skin that could later bleed, itch and ulcerate
- An existing mole that changes in color, shape and texture.
Basal cell carcinoma
How to prevent skin cancer:
- Use sunscreen. Using sunscreen or sunblock can prevent the growth of melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
- Minimize indoor tanning and avoid sun exposure during midday.
- Use sunscreen more often
- Stop smoking
How cancer can be treated
© 2013 Zee Mercado