Normally, cells in the human body grow, divide, and die. Cancer occurs when cells begin to grow out of control. They do not die as they are supposed to but, instead, continue to grow and multiply, eventually invading other tissues. While the numbers are sobering – half of all men and one-third of women in the U.S. will develop cancer in their lifetimes – lifestyle adjustments can greatly reduce your risk, and screening tests can spot cancers early, making them easier to treat and leading to higher cure rates.
Causes of Cancer
There are a wide variety of different cancers that can affect almost any organ or tissue in the body. Causes are diverse, and include genetics, tobacco use, diet and physical activity, exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, environmental toxins, radiation, and viruses. Many times, however, the exact cause of cancer is unknown.
The most common types of cancers affecting men in the U.S. are prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. For women, they are breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.
With so many different types of cancer, symptoms vary greatly and are dependent upon a number of factors, such as location and stage of the tumor. Some cancers won’t have symptoms until they have reached an advanced stage. Others, such as colon cancer, are accompanied by specific symptoms like blood in the stool, diarrhea, and constipation. Some general symptoms are found with most cancers; these include chills, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, malaise, and night sweats.
There are a variety of diagnostic tests used to detect cancer. A biopsy, or removal of tissue for examination, is the most common test for cancer. CT scans can pinpoint the location and size of tumors. Other tests, including x-rays, blood tests, and MRIs, may also be used.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you will likely have a difficult time digesting the news. Many support groups are available to help you deal with emotional anxiety and any fears and concerns you may have.
Treatment depends on the type of cancer and whether it has spread to other locations in the body.
If it has not spread, surgery is a common approach. If it has invaded other parts of the body and can’t be surgically removed, treatment options include radiation and chemotherapy. Sometimes, a combination of all three procedures is necessary.
The prognosis and survival rate depends on the type of cancer and how early it was detected. Some patients beat cancer and live normal, healthy lives afterwards, while others are less fortunate. Just remember that every case is unique and each outlook, different.