Cancer is an umbrella term given to a collection of related diseases. It involves abnormal cell growth that has the potential to spread to other parts of the body. In all types of cancer, some cells begin to divide without stoppage and start spreading into surrounding tissues.
Normally, the cells grow and divide to form new cells. When these cells grow old, they die and new cells take their place. However, in the case of cancer, this process breaks down. Cells start becoming abnormal and old cells do not die and new cells form when they are not needed. These extra cells divide without halt and form tumors.
Cancer tumors are malignant in nature which means they can spread and invade nearby tissues. As these tumors continue to grow, some cancer cells may break off and travel to distant parts of the body through the bloodstream and form new tumors far from the original site. Tumors that cannot spread into tissues are called Benign tumors. They can grow to a large size but once they are removed they usually don’t grow back, unlike malignant tumors which can sometimes grow back.
Cancer is not an inherited disease but genetic. It is caused by certain changes in the genes that control the way body cells function and how they grow and divide. These changes can also occur during a person’s lifetime caused by environmental exposures. These substances include tobacco smoke, radiation like the UV rays from the sun, obesity, and diet, and infections. The majority of cancer cases (90-95%) are due to genetic mutations caused by environmental and lifestyle factors and the remaining 5-10% are due to inherited genetics.
Each person’s cancer has a unique combination of genetic changes. It continues to change as cancer grows further. Even within the same tumor, different cells can have different genetic changes which makes it difficult to understand cancer.
The cause of cancer is not very specific but many factors around us can contribute to it and affect the entire body.
Risk Factors of Cancer
- Age Factor – as a person ages, their immune system weakens and it becomes more prone to developing cancerous cells
- Lifestyle – Drinking too much alcohol, frequent smoking, obesity, unsafe sex, excessive exposure to sun rays, etc can be contributing factors
- Family Background – Genetic mutations can be a factor contributing to the development of cancer
There are varied symptoms for different types of cancer since every cancer is so unique. But there are certain warning signs and signals that one should keep an eye out for. You should consult your doctor if you see any of these symptoms on a regular and prolonged basis
Common Symptoms of Cancer
- Breathing issues
- Unintended weight loss
- Persistent cough or sore throat
- Chemical changes in body
- Weak immune system
- Headaches and migraine
However, there are certain measures one can take to prevent and minimize the risk of cancer.
Prevention of Cancer
- Avoid smoking and drinking
- Avoid excessive sun exposure
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Avoid packaged food
- Intake of proper nutrition and supplements
- Avoid stress
- Regular exercise
- Regular checkups