What is Cancer, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis?
This is when normal body cells grow abnormally, divide and invade or spread in an orderly fashion. Cancer cells are different because they don’t die. They just continue to divide and grow hence destroying body tissues.
Cancer cells form as a result of a damaged DNA. These damaged genes can be passed on, which accounts for inherited cancers.
In other cases, the DNA is damaged by an outside source such as smoking. Cancer usually forms a tumour.
The risks factors of acquiring cancer can be reduced by modifying one’s lifestyle.
There are two types of tumours: Malignant and Benign.
Malignant tumours spread to other areas in the body while benign tumours stay in one place. Malignant tumours are the dangerous ones.
So, What Causes Cancer?
80% are considered sporadic which means the cause is unknown. There are several risk factors that increase the chance of cancer :
- Age whereby risk increase above 50 years.
- Cigarettes which increase lung cancer, other tobacco products such as pipes and chewing tobacco increases cancers of the mouth.
- Long term exposure to chemicals like asbestos and benzene.
- Exposure to high levels of radiation.
- Harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.
- Some viruses: Hepatitis B, C, HPV, Epstein-Barr.
- Immune system disease.
However, medics are recommending screening for high risk families. You are considered of high risk if:
- Several relatives have had cancer or
- If someone had cancer at a very early age.
Symptoms of Cancer
Remember one word: CAUTION
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits.
- A sore that will not heal.
- Unusual bleeding or discharge.
- Thickening or lump in breast or any part of the body.
- Indigestion or difficulty swallowing.
- Obvious change in any wart or mole.
- Nagging cough or hoarseness.
Diagnosis of Cancer
- Biopsy – small tissue sample put under a microscope to look for cancerous cells.
- Endoscopy, which is a flexible plastic tube with a tiny camera doctors are using in diagnosiing cancer.
- Diagnostic Imaging – X-rays.
- Blood tests whereby you can find tumour markers which are substances some tumours are releasing in the blood.