Understanding Cancer

Cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in the world. One out of every 6 human beings in the world is said to die due to cancer. The term cancer is a generic term given to a group of disease that can affect any part of the body. There are more than 200 different types of cancer which are identified by its own name and each has its own treatment. But thanks to the advancement in medical sciences, with the help of proper treatment and appropriate precautions at early stages of the disease, it can be effectively treated.

How cancer affects the body in the initial stage?

Cancer is made up of malignant cells that divide continuously and spread to the tissues surrounding it. When the normal life cycle of cells (i.e., human cells grow, divide to form new cells, become old and die) breaks down, the abnormal or damaged cells start to accumulate in the body and forms tumours which cause cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms of cancer?

Each type of cancer shows different signs and symptoms, it is impossible to understand all of them. Thus, knowing your own body is important and it helps to easily recognize the unusual changes in the body. If any unusual changes are found consult a doctor who can help you to identify the exact cause. If the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it is highly likely that the patient can be cured completely. Different signs and symptoms of Cancer are as follows:

  • Unusual bleeding from the vagina especially in women who have attained menopause previously
  • Lump or swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Severe pain
  • Extreme fatigue

How is Cancer diagnosed?

If any unusual changes are recognized in the body it is necessary to consult a doctor. Detecting cancer at its early stage gives better chances for a cure. To determine cancer, physical examination and diagnostic testing are needed. A doctor conducts a detailed physical examination of the patient and enquires about the family and personal health history of the patient. A doctor considers all these factors and prescribes to undergo various diagnostic tests to confirm the disease. The diagnostic procedures such as laboratory tests, imaging tests, genetic testing, endoscopic examination, and tumour biopsy are done to confirm cancer. If cancer is identified the next step is to stage the disease.

How is cancer treated?

Cancer treatment is decided based on the type and the stage of cancer. Common cancer treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. The treatment is decided on the basis of the following factors:

  • The part of the body having cancer cells
  • The extent of cancer spread
  • Patient’s general health condition
  • Type of cancer cells in a tumour

What are the risks of developing cancer?

There are some factors that increase the risk of developing cancer. They are as follow:

  • Ageing and family health history of cancer
  • Use of tobacco
  • Sun Exposure
  • Radiation Exposure
  • Chemical and other harmful substances
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Unhealthy diet

Why does cancer come back?

In some cases, cancer comes back ( this is called “recurrent cancer”). This happens because even after the treatment, microscopic cancer cells may remain in the body. Over time they may start dividing and can grow again to form a tumour.  Sometimes, this happens after several years. Thus follow-up care after cancer treatment is paramount. During the follow-up care, the doctor suggests physical examinations and tests to identify any abnormalities, so that it can be treated to the earliest.


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