Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cancer and its Symptoms

                Cancer : A deadly Disease

What is Cancer ? 

           The term "Cancer" cannot be defined by a particular definition. There are many different types of cancers.    
           Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth. There are over 200 different types of cancer, and each is classified by the type of cell that is initially affected.
Cancer harms the body when damaged cells divide uncontrollably to form lumps or masses of tissue called tumors (except in the case of leukemia where cancer prohibits normal blood function by abnormal cell division in the blood stream). Tumors can grow and interfere with the digestive, nervous, and circulatory systems, and they can release hormones that alter body function. Tumors that stay in one spot and demonstrate limited growth are generally considered to be benign.
              Cancer is called as malignant neoplasm in biologically terms. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the body through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. Not all tumors are cancerous; benign tumors do not invade neighboring tissues and do not spread throughout the body.

Symptoms :

 When cancer begins it invariably produces no symptoms with signs and symptoms only appearing as the mass continues to grow or ulcerates. The findings that result depend on the type and location of the cancer. Few symptoms are specific, with many of them also frequently occurring in individuals who have other conditions. Cancer is the new "great imitator". Thus it is not uncommon for people diagnosed with cancer to have been treated for other diseases to which it was assumed their symptoms were due.

The Seven Warning Signs of Cancer

The American Cancer Society uses the word C-A-U-T-I-O-N  to help recognize the seven early signs of cancer:
 Change in bowel or bladder habits
 A sore that does not heal
 Unusual bleeding or discharge
 Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles, or elsewhere
 Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
 Obvious change in the size, color, shape, or thickness of a wart, mole, or mouth sore
 Nagging cough or hoarseness

The following symptoms may also signal the presence of some types of cancer :

  • Persistent headaches
  • Unexplained loss of weight or loss of appetite
  • Chronic pain in bones or any other areas of the body
  • Persistent fatigue, nausea, or vomiting
  • Persistent low-grade fever, either constant or intermittent
  • Repeated infection

Prevention From Cancer

1. Eat a healthy diet

Although making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtime can't guarantee cancer prevention, it might help reduce your risk. Consider these guidelines:
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans.
  • Limit fat. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-fat foods, particularly those from animal sources. High-fat diets tend to be higher in calories and might increase the risk of overweight or obesity — which can, in turn, increase cancer risk.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. The risk of various types of cancer — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you've been drinking regularly.

2. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active

Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney.
Physical activity counts, too. In addition to helping you control your weight, physical activity on its own might lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. But for substantial health benefits, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine — and if you can do more, even better.

3. Don't use tobacco

Using any type of tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, bladder, cervix and kidney. And chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don't use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.
Avoiding tobacco — or deciding to stop using it — is one of the most important health decisions you can make. It's also an important part of cancer prevention. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting.

4. Get immunized

Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about immunization against:
  • Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for certain high-risk adults — such as adults who are sexually active but not in a mutually monogamous relationship, people with sexually transmitted infections, intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men, and health care or public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is available to both men and women age 26 or younger who didn't have the vaccine as adolescents.

5. Avoid risky behaviors

Another effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviors that can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer. For example:
  • Practice safe sex. Limit your number of sexual partners, and use a condom when you have sex. The more sexual partners you have in your lifetime, the more likely you are to contract a sexually transmitted infection — such as HIV or HPV. People who have HIV or AIDS have a higher risk of cancer of the anus, liver and lung. HPV is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it might also increase the risk of cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina.
  • Don't share needles. Sharing needles with an infected drug user can lead to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and hepatitis C — which can increase the risk of liver cancer. If you're concerned about drug abuse or addiction, seek professional help.

6. Protect yourself from the sun

Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer — and one of the most preventable. Try these tips:
  • Avoid midday sun. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
  • Stay in the shade. When you're outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-rimmed hat help, too.
  • Cover exposed areas. Wear tightly woven, loosefitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. Opt for bright or dark colors, which reflect more ultraviolet radiation than pastels or bleached cotton.
  • Don't skimp on sunscreen. Use generous amounts of sunscreen when you're outdoors, and reapply often.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These are just as damaging as natural sunlight.

7. Get regular medical care

Regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers — such as cancer of the skin, colon, prostate, cervix and breast — can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you.

Some Facts About Cancer :

1. We are winning the war against cancer.
Early detection through screening, more effective treatments, reduction of exposure to risk factors and equal care for people diagnosed with cancer contribute to reducing the burden of cancer in the United States. Americans' risk of dying from cancer continues to drop, maintaining a trend that began in the early 1990s. However, the rate of new cancers remains stable. Death rates decreased for 11 of the 15 most common cancers in men and for 10 of the 15 most common cancers in women.

2. Cancer is not one disease but dozens of diseases.
Cancer is a group of more than 100 different diseases characterized by the uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells that form a tumor. Some cancers, such as blood cancers, do not form tumors. Benign (non-cancerous) tumors may grow, but they do not spread to other parts of the body and are usually not life threatening. Malignant (cancerous) tumors grow and invade other tissues in the body. Cells from malignant tumors can also break away and travel to other parts of the body, where they can continue to grow, a process called metastasis.

3. Early detection is key.
Some cancers can be found early by physical examinations by a health professional (such as examination of the skin), specific examinations (such as a colonoscopy to look inside the rectum and the colon) and X-ray or laboratory tests (such as mammography and the Pap test). A combination of these approaches is the most effective strategy for early detection, and early detection increases the likelihood of effective treatment.

4. Cancer is primarily a disease of older people.
People of all ages, including children, can develop cancer, but most cancers occur in people over the age of 65. Certain risk factors that increase the chance of developing cancer are old age, tobacco use, overexposure to sun, ionizing radiation, certain chemicals, some viruses and bacteria, certain hormones, family history of some types of cancer, alcohol abuse, being physically inactive and obesity. By avoiding known risk factors, cancer risk may be reduced.

5. Some cancers can be prevented.
Cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco cause cancer. Staying in the shade, wearing a hat and shirt when in the sun and using sunscreen can lower skin cancer risk. Certain foods are linked to some types of cancer. Reducing your intake of high fat foods and increasing dietary fiber may reduce cancer risk. Limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining body weight or not gaining weight as an adult and including exercise as part of daily activities can also lower cancer risk.

6. Skin cancer is the most common cancer.
The most common type of cancer is non-melanoma skin cancer—basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma—with more than one million new cases diagnosed in the U.S. in 2006. Reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation decreases the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer. UV radiation comes from the sun, tanning booths and sunlamps.

7. Genes affect cancer risk.
Cancers develop because of a mutation in the physical structure of a gene that disrupts normal functions. A genetic mutation passed from parent to child is known as inherited susceptibility. Having an inherited susceptibility increases the chance of developing cancer if other factors that promote the development of cancer occur. Most cancers result from genetic changes that occur after birth. These genetic changes are called somatic alterations.

8. There are four primary cancer treatments.
The primary cancer therapies are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and biologic therapy. Cancers respond differently to various types of treatment, and people with the same cancer may respond differently to the same treatment. Early-stage cancers may need different therapies than later-stage cancers. Overall health, lifestyle and personal preferences also influence treatment choice.

9. Gender and ethnicity affect cancer risk.
To understand better the factors affecting cancer risk and how cancer impacts society, researchers compile information about cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths and track each case by gender and ethnicity. For example, among Californians, black men are five times more likely to die of cancer than are South Asian men. Yet rates of certain cancers, such as liver and stomach cancer, are higher among Asians than blacks.

10. More than 10 million Americans are living with cancer today.
The statistics on survival are encouraging for many cancers. There are approximately 10.1 million Americans alive with a history of cancer—some are considered cured, others are in remission or are receiving treatment. The overall survival rate for all types of cancer is 65 percent. The USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center is proud to contribute to that success