Cancer is a broad term medically known as ‘Malignant Neoplasm’ and it is a broad group of various diseases. It can be described as a disease which is caused as a result of uncontrolled growth and division of cells.
A cell receives instructions to die so that the body can replace it with a newer cell that functions better but cancerous cells lack the components that instruct them to stop dividing and to die, as a result, thereby building up in the body, using oxygen and nutrients that would usually nourish other cells.
Cancerous cells may appear in one area and then spread via the lymph nodes, which are clusters of immune cells located throughout the body.
What Are The Causes of Cancer
There are various causes which include:
- Heavy alcohol drinking
- Poor nutrition
- Physical Inactivity
- Excess body weight
NB: Other causes of cancer are not preventable as they could be sometimes genetic.
Some genes change proteins that would usually repair damaged cells and this can lead to cancer. If a parent has these genes, they may pass on the altered genes to their offspring. Some genetic changes also occur after birth and factors such as smoking and sun exposure can increase the risk.
Finally, a person can inherit a predisposition for a type of cancer. A doctor may refer to this as having a hereditary cancer syndrome. Inherited genetic mutations significantly contribute to the development of 5–10 percent of cancer cases.
Types of Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the most common types are; breast , lung and prostate cancer.
- Colon and rectal
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
NB: There are over 100 cancer types.
How To Overcome Cancer
Due to constant and ceaseless research, there has been the development of new medications and treatment technologies. Doctors usually prescribe treatments based on the type of cancer, its stage at diagnosis and overall health condition.
Chemotherapy: Aims to kill cancerous cells with medications that target rapidly dividing cells. The drugs also help shrink tumors but the side effects can be severe such as fatigue, hair loss, infection, nausea and vomiting, change in appetite, easy bleeding, etc.
Immunotherapy: Uses medications and other treatments to boost the immune system and encourage it to fight cancerous cells. Side effects include fever, fatigue, diarrhea, shortness of breath, blisters, etc.
Radiation therapy: Uses high-dose radiation to kill cancerous cells and to shrink a tumor before surgery or reduce tumor-related symptoms. Side effects include sore throat, heartburn, skin problems, hair loss, etc.
Hormone therapy: Involves taking medications that change how certain hormones work or interfere with the body’s ability to produce them, as with prostate and breast cancers, this is a common approach. Side effects include weight gain, headache, memory problems, menopausal symptoms, etc.
Other types of treatments include:
- Stem cell transplant
- Targeted therapies
- Precision medicine
Doctors often employ more than one type of treatment to boost effectiveness. Over time, there has been an improvement in cancer detection. Increased awareness of the risks of smoking has resulted in a drop in tobacco use which has contributed to a year-on-year decrease in the number of cancer diagnoses and deaths.