What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease where cells in the body divide without control and create tumors. Cancer occurs when normal cells mutate and become abnormal. Normal cells are those that make up our organs and keep them functioning properly. Cancer cells do not have the same function as normal cells and they continue to multiply out of control. If these cells continue to spread throughout the body, they may form tumors. Tumors can occur anywhere in the body and can affect any organ system.
There are many types of cancer, including breast, prostate, lung, colon, brain, liver, skin, blood, bone, ovary, stomach, testicles, kidney, uterus, bladder, thyroid, head and neck, pancreas, eye, and mouth cancer. There are over 200 different kinds of cancers.
Cancers can be classified according to their origin, location, and type. Cancers can originate from either internal or external causes. Internal causes include genetic mutations and viruses. External causes include environmental factors like smoking cigarettes, and exposure to chemicals, radiation, and viruses.
A tumor may appear suddenly or gradually. Symptoms depend on the type of cancer and its location. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, bleeding, weight loss, fever, fatigue, and lack of appetite. Other symptoms may include trouble breathing, coughing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in bowel habits, or problems swallowing.
Treatment options vary depending on the type of cancer. Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, hormone treatment, immunotherapy, and stem-cell transplantation.
Causes of Cancer
Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Cancer is caused by exposure to environmental toxins. These include chemicals, radiation, smoke, air pollution, pesticides, industrial pollutants, heavy metals, and many others. Cancer results from harmful substances that enter our body and cause damage to cells in the body.
Genetics plays a role in the development of cancer. Sometimes certain genes are inherited, while others are not. If a person inherits a defective gene, they may have a higher risk of developing cancer.
Lifestyle factors like smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption and poor diet can increase the risk of cancer. People who are obese have a higher chance of developing cancers of the colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, liver, pancreas, stomach, throat, breast, cervix, ovaries, prostate, and bladder. People who drink alcohol have a higher risk of mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, liver, colorectal, stomach, breast, cervical, ovarian, and brain cancer.
Infection with viruses, bacteria, and parasites increases the risk of cancer. Viruses like Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human papilloma virus (HPV) can lead to cancer of the lymphatic system, stomach, colon, lung, head, neck, and skin. Bacteria like Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) increases the risk of gastric cancer. Parasites like Schistosoma haematobium increases the risk of urinary tract cancer.
Radiation causes DNA mutations, which can lead to cancer. Ionizing radiation comes from natural sources, including solar rays, cosmic rays, and X-rays. Sources of manmade radiation include medical procedures, nuclear power plants, radioactive isotopes, and nuclear weapons.
Tobacco use increases the risk of cancers of the oral cavity, lip, tongue, larynx, trachea, bronchus, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, kidney, bladder, pancreas, and nasal passages. In addition, tobacco use increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Age is an independent factor in increasing the risk of cancer. As we age, our bodies become less able to repair genetic damage. Because of this, older people are at greater risk of developing cancer than younger people.
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