Whether we are living an ideal life with routinely exercises, healthy diet, abstaining from alcohol and smoking, or we are living a rushed life with no plan whatsoever about lunch or dinner and workout is usually rushing from one meeting to next cancer can happen to anyone. A non-smoker can develop lung cancer while a chain smoker lives to a ripe old age and dies healthy. Life’s uncertainty is made glaringly obvious by cancer.
What is cancer?
Cells are required to divide and grow in order to keep the body healthy and repair any tear or wear that it suffers. This division is beneficial and causes the being to stay healthy and alive. Cancer or tumors occur when the cells divide abnormally as a cause of mutation. This mutation occurs in the DNA and normally mutations are not harmful unless the cells decide to crowd the organs and deprive functioning tissues of nourishment which causes them to die. This uncontrolled growth leads to tumors. Here, the difference should be noted that cancerous growth leads to the tumor but not all tumors are cancerous. Meaning, benign tumors do not spread to other nearby tissues or choke them whereas cancer cells do just that. While there are more than 15 types of cancer, they are classified into 5 groups, which are:
- Carcinoma is the most common type and originates in glands, skin and other organs like lungs, pancreas, breasts, etc.
- Lymphoma affects lymphocytes.
- Leukemia is caused in the blood
- Melanoma is the type of cancer that arises in the cells that are responsible for the pigmentation of the skin.
- Sarcoma, though rare, occurs in marrows, bones, cartilages or connective tissues.
5 major types of cancer
As mentioned above, there are over 15 types of cancer that affect people but out of these, there are 5 that you should know about in details to recognize signs or even doubt so that getting a checkup will be up your priority list:
- The most common type to plague this generation is lung cancer. As the name suggests, this cancer starts at the lungs, more specifically at the cavities between the linings of the lungs. Usually, the non-threatening type is the one that forms on the outer parts but in rare cases, cancer develops in the alveoli of the lungs. Symptoms usually start with incessant coughing and difficulty in breathing. This gives way to wheezing, chest pains, hoarse voice, weight loss and appetite loss, fatigue and acute difficulty in breathing.
- Another common type of cancer is blood cancer or leukemia. The blood cells, red cells, white cells and platelets divide up too quickly to hinder the functioning on the normal cells causing the normal and healthy cells to not able to function properly. Symptoms include night sweats, extreme fatigue and weakness, sudden weight loss, bone pain, enlargement of spleen or liver, red spots (petechiae) over the skin, swollen and painless nymph nodes especially around the armpits, bruising easily and bleeding easily.
- Melanoma occurs in the skin and while it is not as common as leukemia it is deadly. Fair skin and getting tanned or sunburned over a long period causes the skin to develop cancerous moles. While mole occurrence isn’t uncommon and develops pretty young in a person’s life, the color, diameter, border and tendency to evolve are sure ways to determine if the mole is harmless or cancerous.
- Prostate cancer affects men and is fairly common and in the majority of case, harmless. While age is the main factor, prostate cancer occurs in the prostate is a walnut shaped organ surrounding the urethra at the end of the bladder. While the cause is still unknown, the effects are painful for the symptoms are frequent urination and pain while urinating, blood or semen found in the urine, swelling of legs and feet due to fluid retention, erectile dysfunction and strain to empty the bladder.
- A rarer form of cancer, cervical cancer affects women. The cervix is located at the lower part of the uterus, connecting to the vagina. The main cause of cervical cancer is exposure to HPV or being affected by the sexually transmitted disease. While the immune system does hinder the virus it does not eradicate the virus completely and this can cause cancer to progress to an advanced stage without early symptoms. Advanced stage symptoms are pelvic pain during intercourse, bleeding after intercourse or between menstrual cycles and heavy watery discharge.
How to avoid cancer
Treatment is available for cancer in this age of medical and technological advancement and while there are also cases of failures, the success rates trumps higher. Mutation can occur to anyone and if you are subjected to agents that are known to play an active role in aiding cancer growth – smoking, working in a pollution high area, not taking enough protection when going out in the sun, exposure to carcinogens or radiation – then your chances of having cancer increases. One can argue what you can do about the pollution but prevention and taking better care of yourself definitely helps to stay healthy.