CANCER (1): TYPES, SYMPTOMS, AND CAUSES

DEFINITION OF CANCER

Cancer is a disease caused by the presence of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and can spread to the rest of the body and there are more than 100 types. The abnormal growth of cells that divide can penetrate tissues and destroy healthy tissues in the body. 

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world. But the chances of curing cancer are constantly improving in most species, thanks to advances in early detection techniques and cancer treatment options. So what are the types, causes, and symptoms of cancer?

Tumors are divided into two main types :

1) Benign tumors

They are coated with fibrous tissue and are non-proliferating and often do not reappear after removal. This type of tumor is removed by surgical intervention, especially when they are large in size or burden on the affected organ or nearby organs preventing them from operating normally. Some benign tumors can turn into malignant tumors. An example of this is a colon adenoma, which may turn into colon cancer over time.

2)  Malignant tumors

Instead of replacing damaged cells, these abnormal cells proliferate dramatically and unceasingly, overwhelm the affected organ. They have the ability to spread to other organs in the blood and lymphatic systems. There are more than a hundred types of cancer diseases that vary depending on the tissue, such as breast and liver cancer, and leukemia. Cancer affects all age groups, but the risk of developing it increases as people get old.

CANCER SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of cancer vary from case to case, depending on the body organ with cancer. Some general cancer symptoms are special to it, but others are not, and they include:

Woman with fever
  • Fatigue
  • High temperature
  • The appearance of a mass or hypertrophy that can be felt under the skin anywhere in the body.
  • Pain
  •  Unexplained  weight loss, or an unintended  decrease in body weight
  • Changes on the surface of the skin, such as the appearance of yellow, dark areas or red spots in the skin, wounds that do not heal, or changes in moles that were present on the skin
  •  Changes in bowel or bladder work patterns
  •  Unusual bleeding or blood in the stool or urine
  • Disruption of the menstrual cycle in women without cause or abnormal vaginal discharge.
  • Noticeable change in moles or polyps.
  • A permanent wound or ulceration which does not heal.
  • Unexplained weight loss, night sweats, or fever.
  •  Persistent or irritating cough or voice change.
  • Hoarseness
  •  Difficulty in swallowing
  • Digestion difficulty (indigestion) or discomfort after eating due to constant constipation or diarrhea.

HOW DOES A PERSON GET CANCER?

In some cancers, the accumulation of these cells generates a cancerous tumor. However, not all these cells produce cancerous tumors. For example, leukemia is a type of cancer that affects blood cells, bone marrow, lymphatic system, and spleen. But this type of cancer does not produce a tumor.

The initial genetic deviation is only the beginning of the process of cancer development. The researchers believe that the development of cancer requires a number of changes within the cell, including the initiating factor leading to a genetic change. Sometimes, some individuals may be born with a certain genetic deviation, while the genetic deviation in others may be caused by active forces within the body, such as hormones, viruses, and chronic infections.

Genetic deviation can also be caused by active forces outside the body, such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun’s rays, or carcinogenic agents (carcinogens) that are present in the environment.

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Auxiliary factors cause cells to divide more quickly. This can lead to the accumulation of cells, which may lead to a cancerous tumor. Auxiliary agents can be transmitted by heredity,  form inside the body, or get into it from the outside.

Encouraging factors make cancer more aggressive and help it to spread. Without the encouraging factors (boosting agents), the tumor can remain benign and limited in place. Encouraging factors make cancer more aggressive, and increase the likelihood of cancer breaking into and destroying nearby tissues. They also increase the likelihood of cancer spreading to other organs throughout the body.

The encouraging factors can be transmitted by heredity, or formed as a result of the effects of environmental factors. The genetic structure, the active forces within the body, the choice of lifestyle, and the environment in which we live can all form the basis for cancer formation or complete its formation if it has begun. For example, if a person has inherited a genetic deviation that increases the likelihood of particular cancer, that person will be at high risk of developing it. Genetic deviation leads to the onset of cancer formation, whereas the carcinogen may be a key component in the future development and progression of cancer.

 CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS OF CANCER

There is no single cause of cancer. It may be caused by various factors, and these causes are still largely unknown. But generally speaking, cancer is caused by damage (mutation) that occurs in a series of deoxyribonucleic (DNA) cells. Healthy cells sometimes tend to make changes in their DNA, but they remain able to correct the bulk of these changes. Or, if they can’t make these corrections, the misrepresented cells often die.

However, some of these deviations are not correctable, leading to the growth of these cells into cancer cells. These deviations can also prolong the life of some cells more than their average life. This phenomenon causes the accumulation of cancer cells.

Factors that are known to increase the risk of cancer include:

  • Age: Cancer development can take several decades. This is why most people are diagnosed with cancer after they are 55 years old. Until the tumor is discovered, between 100 million and 1 billion cancer cells have likely evolved, and the primary tumor may have begun to form before five years or more.
  • Habits: It is known that certain lifestyles may increase the risk of cancer.
  • Smoking: Smokers are at a greater risk of lung cancer than people who do not smoke. This is because tobacco smoke is a factor in the development of this type of cancer.
  • Radiation /Excessive sun exposure: Multiple sunburns accompanied by blisters (bubbles filled with liquid that appears in the upper layers of the skin) can cause skin cancer.
  • Family history Genetic factors: Only about 10% of all cancers occur on a genetic basis. If cancer is prevalent in the family, these genetic aberrations will likely be passed on from one generation to another.
  • General health status: Some chronic diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, can greatly increase the risk of certain cancers.
  • Chemical substances (carcinogens in our living environment): The environment in which we live may contain harmful chemicals that can increase the risk of cancer. Even if you are a non-smoker, you may be exposed to secondhand smoke if you live in an environment where others smoke, or if you live with a smoker. Chemicals found at home or in the workplace, such as asbestos or benzene, can be factors that increase your risk of cancer.
  • Hormonal imbalance and genetic mutations
  • Eating unhealthy/junk food.
  • Obesity and lack of exercise. Click here to go to the next part
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