Cancer

Cancer is the term used when a normal, healthy cell is altered and begins to multiply uncontrollably. Most often this growth leads to a mass called a tumor.  If a tumor is cancerous, it  may eventually spread throughout the body, causing various health ailments. There are over 200 types of recognized cancers and improvements in detection and treatment are constantly being made in the medical field.  

 

Causes and Risk Factors

 

Due to the wide range of types of cancers, there are many causes and risk factors when it comes to the disease.  Some of these causes are preventable while others are not.

 

  • Genetics 

  • Heavy alcohol consumption

  • Smoking

  • Excessive amounts of sun exposure

  • Physical inactivity

  • Unhealthy diet

  • Unsafe Sex

  • Age

  • Chronic health conditions (i.e. ulcerative colitis)

  • Environmental factors, such as chemicals

 

Symptoms

 

Depending on the type of cancer and which part of the body is being affected, symptoms will vary.  Common signs often associated to cancer can include:

 

  • Ongoing fatigue

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Changes in skin

  • Unusual bleeding

  • Persistent, unhealed sores

  • Long lasting fevers

  • Persistent, unexplained cough

  • Anemia

 

Treatments

 

Once proper diagnosis has been established, a patient and their doctor will work together to come up with the right treatment plan. Things such as type of cancer, where it is in the body, and how much it has spread are often determining factors in this plan. It isn’t uncommon for a combination of treatments to be used as an approach to treating the patient. Some options for cancer treatment include:

 

  • Surgery with the main goal being to remove any cancerous tumors and/or tissue before it spreads to other parts of the body. 

  • Chemotherapy which can be administered through injections into the body, as an ointment put on the skin, or orally by way of liquid or tablet medication.

  • Radiation using high-energy waves to destroy cancer cells.

  • Immunotherapy which stimulates the body’s immune system to fight off the cancer cells.

  • Hormone therapy to treat cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.

  • Stem cell transplants to try to replace cancer cells with healthy cells from bone marrow or blood.