Cancer


Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of cancer

Systemic diseases of different degrees are common in adults and children. In the benign stages, they can be treated and cured through minimum medical interventions. Some of the diseases that are self-limiting in nature resolve with time. But some other diseases that take serious forms do not cure even after advanced medical procedures.Cancer is the end-stage of these types of diseases.

It is marked by the generation and uncontrolled spread of malignant cells.  A large part of the world population is suffering from this condition, which in most cases is irreversible.

What is cancer?

cancer detectionCancer is defined as the presence of excess cells in some organ(s) of the body, which leads to organ enlargement and failure.

These cells are distinguishable from the normal cells in some aberrant characteristics.

Cancer occurs when the rate of generation of new cells exceeds the rate of destruction of the old cells. This condition is also known as malignancy.

Studies have also shown that in some of these cases, the old cells live even after the normal lifespan is over. This, along with an overproduction of new cells causes organ enlargement.

At the onset, the abnormal cells stay at their site of origin and do not spread elsewhere. With the gradual progression of the disease, the cells start spreading to the adjoining or the remote organs and tissues, inhibiting the actions of the cells therein. This phenomenon is known as metastasis. Once this stage is reached, the disease becomes almost incurable and the life-expectancy of the patients is severely impacted. This article will discuss different types of cancers and will also focus on their diagnosis and treatment techniques.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the pathological condition in which cells within the breast grow abnormally and uncontrollably and lead to the formation of masses or lumps called “tumors”. Some other varieties of breast cancer originate from the milk-producing glands. Nearly 50% of breast cancer cases are reported in underdeveloped countries and 58% of death cases are reported in these countries annually.

What are the possible causes of breast cancer?

Numerous environmental and physiological factors account for breast cancer in women. These are elaborated below-

  • A familial history of breast cancer
  • Mutations in the BRCA, ATM, and PTEN genes
  • An abnormal increase in breast tissue density
  • Long-term exposure to strong radiations
  • Overuse of birth control pills
  • Excess alcohol and tobacco intake
  • Presence of excess fat tissues
  • Having no child or having a child after the age of 30
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Hormonal therapies to treat osteoporosis
  • Having menstruation before the age of 12 or menopause after the age of 15

What are the main symptoms of breast cancer?

Breast cancer symptoms are very subtle in the premature stages. But with the gradual progress of the disease, the fowling symptoms may be observed-

  • Breast swelling and inflammation
  • Breast tenderness and sensitivity
  • Nipple retraction
  • Formation of solid lumps in the breasts
  • Abnormal nipple discharge
  • Nipple eczema

What are the different types of breast cancer?

It is mainly of two types-

  • Ductal carcinoma: It is caused due to cancerous cell growth in the inner linings of the milk-carrying ducts.
  • Lobular carcinoma: It originates in the milk-producing glands of the breast called lobules.

Cervical Cancer

cervical cancerCervical cancer is defined as the abnormal cell growth and proliferation in the cervix that leads to the formation of solidified mass called tumors.

It is mainly catalyzed by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

According to statistics produced by the American Cancer Society, each year, more than 2,70,000 women die from cervical cancer (low and middle income countries)

What causes cervical cancer?

The following factors may trigger cervical cancer.

  • Smoking
  • Lack of immunity
  • Chlamydia infection
  • Obesity
  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Giving birth to three or more children

How to tell if a woman has cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is identifiable if the following symptoms are present-

  • Vaginal bleeding and spotting
  • Strong-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Painful intercourse
  • Post-coital spotting
  • Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic region

Do you know the different types?

Based on the nature of the malignancy, cervical cancer is of the following types-

  • Microinvasive cervical cancer: Here the cancerous cells only break through the bottom layer of the cervical lining.
  • Invasive cervical cancer: The cancerous cells are transmitted from the outer layer of the cervix to the inner layer of tissues.

Liver Cancer

ACUTE LIVER FAILURE cancerLiver cancer refers to the condition in which abnormal cell growth occurs within the liver giving rise to tumours (solidified mass of cells and tissues) which may spread to different parts of the body.

Based on the reports compiled by American Liver Foundation, about 80% of liver cancer cases are reported due to Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

What predisposes a person with liver cancer?

  • Hepatitis C or Hepatitis B infection
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Alcohol and tobacco abuse
  • Toxic agents like Aflatoxins, Vinyl chloride, and Thorium dioxide
  • Overuse of anabolic steroids

When do you know you have liver cancer?

The following symptoms generally serve as warning signs-

  • Pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen
  • Presence of a lump below the left rib
  • Yellowish discoloration of skin and eyes

How many types are there?

Liver cancer has the following subtypes-

  • Primary liver cancer: It originates in the liver itself. It is of four types- Hepatocellular carcinoma, Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, Angiosarcoma, and Hepatoblastoma.
  • Secondary liver cancer: The primary site is the liver but they are found in the pancreas, stomach, breast, lung, and colon. 

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is defined as the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells within the lung leading to the formation of tumors.

Causes of lung cancer

The following conditions can cause lung cancer-

  • Tobacco and alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Direct exposure to radon
  • Beta-carotene supplements
  • Mutations in the EGFR, KRAS, MET, LKB1 genes

Know the signs of lung cancer

Following are some of the warning signs-

  • A persistent cough
  • Brownish or reddish sputum
  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Breathlessness or wheezy breathing

Know the common types

Two types of lung cancers are identified-

  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC): The cancerous lumps are formed of small round cells.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): It accounts for 80% of all lung cancer cases. 

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the medical term for abnormal and uncontrollable cell growth within the ovary. It occurs due to the abnormal growth of any of the three types of cells- epithelial cells, germ cells and stromal cells.

Why does ovarian cancer occur?

Given below are some of the causes of ovarian cancer-

  • Reduction in the levels of estrogen and progesterone
  • Obesity
  • Overuse of fertility drugs such as clomiphene citrate
  • Hormone replacement therapies

What are the main symptoms?

Ovarian cancer manifests as-

  • Vaginal bleeding and spotting
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Bowel obstruction due to growth of a mass in the abdomen

What are the different types of ovarian cancer?

Research studies conducted over the years have shown the existence of three types of ovarian tumors

  • Epithelial ovarian tumors: They originate from the cells that form the outer layer of the ovary.
  • Germ cell ovarian tumors: They are of three types- Teratoma, Dysgerminoma and
  • Stromal cell ovarian carcinoma: These tumors produce excess quantities of estrogen and at times androgen.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the medical condition in which abnormal cell growth occurs in the pancreas leading to the formation of solidified mass (tumors). Either the exocrine or the endocrine or both types of pancreatic cells are affected by this type of cancer.

What causes it?

The main causes of pancreatic cancer are as follows-

  • Aging
  • Substance abuse
  • Mutations in the PRSS1 gene
  • Toxicity
  • Limited physical activities

What are the main signs?

The main signs of pancreatic cancer are as follows-

  • Yellowish discoloration of the skin and the sclera
  • Tarry stool
  • Brownish urine with a strong smell
  • Occurrence of blood clots (Venous Thromboembolism)
  • Diarrhoea and cramps
  • Enlargement of gallbladder or liver
  • Indigestion and heartburn

What are the different types?

The two main types of pancreatic cancer are-

  • Exocrine pancreatic cancer: It affects the cells present in exocrine glands and ducts.
  • Endocrine pancreatic cancer: Occurs mostly in the islet cells. 

Throat Cancer

Throat cancer is a collective term for laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers that mainly arise from the lower portions of the throat due to abnormal and proliferative cell growth in those regions.

What causes throat cancer?

Following are the main causes of throat cancer-

  • Tobacco and alcohol abuse
  • Viral infections
  • Inherited conditions such as Fanconi anemia and Dyskeratosis congenital
  • Mutations in the tumor suppressor genes TP53 and p16
  • Inhaling particulates and pollutants
  • Poor immunity
  • HIV infection in the past
  • Exposure to X-rays and other ionizing radiations

What are the symptoms of throat cancer?

The major signs and symptoms are as follows-

  • Cough with or without sputum
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness of voice

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is a kind of malignancy that occurs due to an abnormal and proliferative growth of cells in the testicles. More than 90% of the testicular cancers originate from the germ cells (seminomas and non-seminomas) that are responsible for the production of sperm. Chance of survival from testicular cancer is 95%, only if the disease is detected at stage I.

What causes testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer mainly arises from the diseases of the testes. The general causes are as follows-

  • A congenital condition wherein one or both the testicles are outside the scrotum or partially within the scrotum (Cryptorchidism)
  • A history of testicular diseases
  • Presence of pre-cancerous cells (Intratubular Germ Cell Neoplasia ) in the testicles
  • Infertility
  • Genetic disorders (presence of extra copies of chromosome 12)
  • Being a white native American
  • Mechanical injury to the testes
  • HIV infection

How to tell if one has the disease?

The following symptoms may help identify testicular cancer-

  • One testis may appear larger than the other
  • Swelling and lump formation in the testes
  • Pain and pressure in the testes, scrotum and lower abdomen

Types

Seminomas: The cells originate from the germ cells of the testicles and are located in the mediastinum or other extra-gonadal locations.

Non-seminomas: They may or may not be of germ-cell origin.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the pathological condition in which cells within the prostate gland show abnormal growth and start multiplying rapidly, giving rise to tumors. African American men have a 60% chance of developing prostate cancer in their lifetime than Caucasian men and are 2.5 times more likely to die from the disease.

What are the causes?

  • Loss of function of the prostate glands with age
  • Being of African American or Carribean origin
  • A familial history of prostate cancer
  • Overconsumption of red meat, dairy products, and calcium
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Chemical toxicity
  • Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) or Prostatitis
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea)
  • Vasectomy

Symptoms of prostate cancer

  • Painful urination
  • Feeling of bladder fullness
  • Erectile dysfunctions
  • Loss of bladder control 

What are the diagnostic tests available for different types of cancer?

The laboratory examinations for different types of cancer are given below-

  • Breast cancer: Mammogram, Breast ultrasound, Breast MRI, Ductogram, Biopsy
  • Cervical cancer: Pap test, Colposcopy, Cervical Cancer
  • Liver cancer: Ultrasonography, CT scan, Angiography, MRI, liver biopsy
  • Lung cancer: Sputum cytology, Chest X-ray, CT scan, Lung Biopsy
  • Ovarian cancer: Laparoscopy, Blood Test, Biopsy, MRI, Ultrasound, CT scans
  • Pancreatic cancer: CT scan of the pancreas, MR cholangiopancreatography, MR angiography, Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)
  • Throat cancer: Laryngoscopy, Panendoscopy
  • Testicular cancer: PET scan, Ultrasound of testes
  • Prostate cancer: Digital Rectal Examination, Prostate Specific Antigen Blood Test, Transrectal Ultrasound, Prostate biopsy

Treatment & Prevention

The treatment protocol for cancer depends on the type of cancer, the degree of spread, organ/s affected, and the age and health of the patient.  Cancer patients are usually administered a combination of surgeries, therapies, and palliative care modules for treating or managing the symptoms. Surgery includes complete removal of the cancer-affected organ if it is possible to do so without affecting the healthy organs. But this can be only done if the disease hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. Radiation therapy uses high energy gamma rays to destroy targeted cancer cells. Chemotherapy involves the injection of toxic chemicals which interfere with the division of cancer cells and prevent it from spreading. Immunotherapy and hormonal therapy are aimed at enhancing the body’s immunity and balancing the hormonal level respectively.

Lifestyle improvements can prevent a large number of cancers. These include no smoking or drinking, maintain a healthy BMI, eliminating tobacco consumption, vaccinations (cervical cancer), and leading a physically active lifestyle.

Till date, there is no absolute cure for cancer. Chemotherapy is provided to the patients for a particular duration in order to increase the life expectancy. This method, however, has several systemic complications. The current research works are being directed towards devising effective means of treatment for these patients and reduce the global burden of cancer.


TL;DR?

Facts

  • According to a 2015 report, 8.8 million deaths worldwide were cancer-related. That’s roughly 1 out of every 6 deaths.
  • Although cancer affects people across the globe, 70% of all cancer-related deaths occur in middle or low-income countries.

Facts

  • 30%-50% of all cancer deaths are preventable. 22% of cancer-fatalities can be prevented by one simple step – eliminating the consumption of tobacco.
  • There are more than 100 different body parts that can be affected by cancer, thus giving rise to more than 100 different variants of this disease.

Facts

  • Only 5%-10% of cancer cases can be attributed to genetic factors. Rest all cases of cancers are due to poor lifestyle choices and toxic exposure.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of deaths among children. Every day almost 40 cases of cancer in children are detected in the USA alone.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Stay away from alcohol as it inflames liver and interferes with cancer-treatment drugs.
  • Consume healthier sources of proteins such as lean meat (chicken) or fish.
  • Drink enough healthy fluids to ensure proper transport of nutrients within the body.
Don'ts
  • Consume red meats and/or processed meats since these contain toxic carcinogens.
  • Load yourself with sugar-laden drinks. Sugar can decrease your body’s immunity.
  • Eat a diet high in trans-fats. Eat healthy fats that too in moderation.

 

 

 

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Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
CT-scan-machine
CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
Anti-CCP Test – Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide Anti-ccp or ACCP test is a blood test that is primarily employed to diagnose the onset of rheumatoid…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
PROLACTIN-(PRL)
Prolactin Test (PRL) Prolactin or PRL is a lactogenic hormone produced to induce milk production in lactating mothers. PRL test measures…
EMA antibodies
Endomysial Antibodies (EMA) Test EMA test is an investigative blood examination to locate the presence of certain antibodies, called Endomysial antibodies or…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
xylitol gum
Xylitol : Is this the right sugar substitute for you? Discovered during World War 2 owing to sugar shortage, xylitol has become a common name in pharamaceutical industry.…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Oil of Oregano: The one-stop essential oil you’ve been looking for Are you plagued by a weak immune system? High body inflammation accompanied by pain and infections? Why not…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Gingko Biloba: Therapeutic lessons from the world’s oldest tree The Ginkgo Biloba, well known as the maidenhair,is the oldest living tree and the oldest living fossil. It…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
TSH test
TSH Test – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone TSH test measures the level of thyroid secreting hormone in the blood. The level of this hormone is…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
beta 2 glycoprotein 1 IgG
Beta 2 Glycoprotein 1 IgG Beta 2 glycoprotein 1 antibody test involves detecting and measuring the presence of the IgG class of beta…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
copper serum test
Copper Serum Test Copper serum test checks for abnormal levels of copper in the body. Both high and low levels of…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various types of poops…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
Ear infections check up
Troubled with ear infections? Find easy and instant home remedies here Ear infections are common in both children and adults and may lead to hearing loss if left untreated.…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
liver cleanse detox
14 go-to foods that are best for a complete natural liver detox Liver cleanse can be achieved by just choosing or avoiding certain types of food. Liver itself is a detoxifying…
PROSTATE-SPECIFIC-ANTIGEN
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test Prostate specific antigen test is a blood test used to determine the presence of prostate cancer or any…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
HSV-IgM test
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-IgM Test The HSV-IgM class antibody is produced by the body a few days after an initial HSV infection and…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…