Cancer means a sure death in common understanding. No wonder then that it is one of the most dreaded words when uttered for a diagnosis. Therefore, understanding cancer is very important because almost anybody can be a victim.
Cancer or malignant neoplasm in medical terms, is nothing but abnormal activity by a group of cells, which is nearly always life threatening. This activity could be in the form of abnormal division of cells or invasion, wherein a group of cells attack and destroy adjacent tissues. Cancer can also spread to other locations in the body through lymph or blood. Most of the cancers tend to form tumors, but there are exceptions like leukemia.
Anybody can turn into a patient of cancer at any age, but the risk of it increases with age. There are internal and external causes for cancer, and in many cases the external agents act as a trigger for the internal abnormalities to come into play causing cancer.
One of the leading external causes is smoking. It is understood to cause cancers of the throat, lungs and mouth. It has been found that smoking cigarette and exposure to chemicals like benzene, which is a component in both gasoline and cigarette smoke, enhance the risk of myeloid leukemia. Of course, this does not mean that all smokers would suffer from cancer, but it does enhance one's chances to a considerable extent, which is why smokers are in the high risk bracket when it comes to cancer.
Tobacco products, whether taken in the form of smoke or otherwise, together with excessive intake of alcohol are known to increase the chances of oral cavity and pharynx by as much as 30 times.
Chemically treated drinking water also increases cancer risk. Food and water containers may release bisphenol A, which has been suspected of being harmful for human beings since the 1930s. It is also suspected that heating food and water in microwave could be another cause of cancer. This applies specifically to those foods that are high in fat. Therefore, it is advisable that the food is not microwaved with plastic wraps and bottles containing drinking water must be kept away from heat. So, if you left your bottle of water in the car and found it all heated up under direct sun, avoid drinking from the bottle unless you are dying of thirst and have no option.
It has also been found that cooking meals, particularly the non-vegetarian items, at very high temperature could also produce carcinogens that could be a cause of cancer. Although there is no doubt that carcinogens are so produced, some of the experts believe that they are too small in quantity to pose any threat.
The modern day life has processed foods as its indispensable part. These foods contain additives required for the purpose of enhancing taste or brightening colour or improving the shelf life of the foods. These are artificial substances and increase the risk of cancer. It cannot be conclusively said that all processed foods have ingredients that might be linked to cancer, but it still can be safely stated that processed foods are not completely clear of cancer risk.
Another worrisome aspect is that the insecticides and pesticides used these days in order to protect the crops are poisonous and quite a considerable number of studies have shown that these substances heighten cancer risk.
Talking of medicines, it might come across as odd to some, but not all pills one pops and not all medicinal preparation one consumes or applies are safe. Ironical, as it may sound, that the substances that are supposed to cure could themselves be the cause for an ailment. But that is how it is. Certain medicines, if taken without proper consultation with a qualified medical practitioner, might become a cause for cancer. The problem is further complicated by the fact that everyday new drugs are being invented to cure new diseases or old ones more effectively or more economically, which also means that we are producing such substances that could be a cause of cancer and by the time we come to know of it, the damage might already be done to many. However, there is little that can be done about it because it is not possible to foretell the long term effects of a drug on human body because it largely depends upon how human beings respond to a certain drug. Therefore, the risk is unavoidable.
Talking of symptoms, different kinds of cancers display different symptoms, but there are a few common symptoms that are commonly noted. It is important for all to know these symptoms because the most effective remedy of cancer is early detection and treatment. The longer it takes to diagnose cancer, the lesser the chances of survival.
A change in bowel or bladder habits is one of the symptoms. A lump in breast could be a sign of breast cancer. Of course, it is just a possibility. Cough or hoarseness that refuses to go could also be noticed in the early stage of cancer, and it must not be taken lightly.
If there is a sore that has overstayed and does not heal, it is a cause of concern. Difficulty in swallowing food or water or indigestion must also be looked upon with suspicion if the problem persists.
Continual low-grade fever is also not a good thing, neither is unusual tiredness or paleness. So, if you suddenly start feeling tired without having done much, it is time for you to go for a thorough medical check up. There is no need to panic at this stage because tiredness could be for a variety of reasons.
Furthermore, if you have suddenly started suffering from repeated infections that take time to heal, it is time to take medical note of the condition. Loss of appetite and sudden loss of weight must not be ignored either.
Headaches are common, but if they persist, one must have oneself examined, and the same applies if there is constant pain in the bones or in some other part of body.
Cancer is certainly lifethreatening, but if diagnosed earlier and treated properly and thoroughly, further damage can be prevented, and loss of life avoided. Having said that, it must also be mentioned that treatment of cancer is complicated, and despite all the advances made in the field of medicine, doctors still cannot guarantee the survival of the patient in all cases. A lot depends upon early detection and effective treatment. Therefore, the symptoms mentioned above must always be kept in mind and as soon as any of those are noted, the patient must immediately be taken to a qualified medical practitioner for a check up. Delay may prove lethal.
Note: This is not a piece of authoritative medical opinion or advice.