Cancer facts

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in a body.
There are over 200 types of cancer.
Anything that may cause a normal body cell to develop abnormally potentially can cause cancer; general categories of cancer-related or causative agents are as follows: chemical or toxic compound exposures, ionizing radiation, some pathogens, and human genetics.
Cancer symptoms and signs depend on the specific type and grade of cancer; although general signs and symptoms are not very specific the following can be found in patients with different cancers: fatigue, weight loss, pain, skin changes, change in bowel or bladder function, unusual bleeding, persistent cough or voice change, fever, lumps, or tissue masses.
Although there are many tests to screen and presumptively diagnose cancer, the definite diagnosis is made by examination of a biopsy sample of suspected cancer tissue.
Cancer staging is often determined by biopsy results and helps determine the cancer type and the extent of cancer spread; staging also helps caregivers determine treatment protocols. In general, in most staging methods, the higher the number assigned (usually between 0 to 4), the more aggressive the cancer type or more widespread is the cancer in the body. Staging methods differ from cancer to cancer and need to be individually discussed with your health-care provider.
Treatment protocols vary according to the type and stage of the cancer. Most treatment protocols are designed to fit the individual patient's disease. However, most treatments include at least one of the following and may include all: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
There are many listed home remedies and alternative treatments for cancers but patients are strongly recommended to discuss these before use with their cancer doctors.
The prognosis of cancer can range from excellent to poor. The prognosis depends on the cancer type and its staging with those cancers known to be aggressive and those staged with higher numbers (3 to 4) often have a prognosis that ranges more toward poor.

The three most common cancers in men, women, and children in the U.S. are as follows:

Men: Prostate, lung, and colorectal
Women: Breast, lung, and colorectal
Children: Leukemia, brain tumors, and lymphoma
The incidence of cancer and cancer types are influenced by many factors such as age, gender, race, local environmental factors, diet, and genetics. Consequently, the incidence of cancer and cancer types vary depending on these variable factors. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) provides the following general information about cancer worldwide:

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. It accounted for 8.2 million deaths (around 22% of all deaths not related to communicable diseases; most recent data from WHO).
Lung, stomach, liver, colon, and breast cancer cause the most cancer deaths each year.
Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 13.1 million deaths in 2030 (about a 70% increase).
Different areas of the world may have cancers that are either more or less predominant then those found in the U.S. One example is that stomach cancer is often found in Japan, while it is rarely found in the U.S. This usually represents a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

What are risk factors and causes of cancer?

Anything that may cause a normal body cell to develop abnormally potentially can cause cancer. Many things can cause cell abnormalities and have been linked to cancer development. Some cancer causes remain unknown while other cancers have environmental or lifestyle triggers or may develop from more than one known cause. Some may be developmentally influenced by a person's genetic makeup. Many patients develop cancer due to a combination of these factors. Although it is often difficult or impossible to determine the initiating event(s) that cause a cancer to develop in a specific person, research has provided clinicians with a number of likely causes that alone or in concert with other causes, are the likely candidates for initiating cancer. The following is a listing of major causes and is not all-inclusive as specific causes are routinely added as research advances:

Chemical or toxic compound exposures: Benzene, asbestos, nickel, cadmium, vinyl chloride, benzidine, N-nitrosamines, tobacco or cigarette smoke (contains at least 66 known potential carcinogenic chemicals and toxins), asbestos, and aflatoxin

Ionizing radiation: Uranium, radon, ultraviolet rays from sunlight, radiation from alpha, beta, gamma, and X-ray-emitting sources

Pathogens: Human papillomavirus (HPV), EBV or Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis viruses B and C, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV), Merkel cell polyomavirus, Schistosoma spp., and Helicobacter pylori; other bacteria are being researched as possible agents.

Genetics: A number of specific cancers have been linked to human genes and are as follows: breast, ovarian, colorectal, prostate, skin and melanoma; the specific genes and other details are beyond the scope of this general article so the reader is referred to the National Cancer Institute for more details about genetics and cancer.

It is important to point out that most everyone has risk factors for cancer and is exposed to cancer-causing substances (for example, sunlight, secondary cigarette smoke, and X-rays) during their lifetime, but many individuals do not develop cancer. In addition, many people have the genes that are linked to cancer but do not develop it. Why? Although researchers may not be able give a satisfactory answer for every individual, it is clear that the higher the amount or level of cancer-causing materials a person is exposed to, the higher the chance the person will develop cancer. In addition, the people with genetic links to cancer may not develop it for similar reasons (lack of enough stimulus to make the genes function). In addition, some people may have a heightened immune response that controls or eliminates cells that are or potentially may become cancer cells. There is evidence that even certain dietary lifestyles may play a significant role in conjunction with the immune system to allow or prevent cancer cell survival. For these reasons, it is difficult to assign a specific cause of cancer to many individuals.

Recently, other risk factors have been added to the list of items that may increase cancer risk. Specifically, red meat (such as beef, lamb, and pork) was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a high-risk agent for potentially causing cancers; in addition processed meats (salted, smoked, preserved, and/or cured meats) were placed on the carcinogenic list. Individuals that eat a lot of barbecued meat may also increase risk due to compounds formed at high temperatures. Other less defined situations that may increase the risk of certain cancers include obesity, lack of exercise, chronic inflammation, and hormones, especially those hormones used for replacement therapy. Other items such as cell phones have been heavily studied. In 2011, the World Health Organization classified cell phone low energy radiation as "possibly carcinogenic," but this is a very low risk level that puts cell phones at the same risk as caffeine and pick

Signs and Symptoms 

Symptoms and signs of cancer depend on the type of cancer, where it is located, and/or where the cancer cells have spread. For example, breast cancer may present as a lump in the breast or as nipple discharge while metastatic breast cancer may present with symptoms of pain (if spread to bones), extreme fatigue (lungs), or seizures (brain). A few patients show no signs or symptoms until the cancer is far advanced.

The American Cancer Society describes seven warning signs and/or symptoms that a cancer may be present, and which should prompt a person to seek medical attention. The word CAUTION can help you remember these.

Change in bowel or bladder habits
A sore throat that does not heal
Unusual bleeding or discharge (for example, nipple secretions or a "sore" that will not heal that oozes material)
Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles, or elsewhere
Indigestion (usually chronic) or difficulty swallowing
Obvious change in the size, color, shape, or thickness of a wart or mole
Nagging cough or hoarseness
Other signs or symptoms may also alert you or your doctor to the possibility of your having some form of cancer. These include the following:

Unexplained loss of weight or loss of appetite
A new type of pain in the bones or other parts of the body that may be steadily worsening, or come and go, but is unlike previous pains one has had before
Persistent fatigue, nausea, or vomiting
Unexplained low-grade fevers with may be either persistent or come and go
Recurring infections which will not clear with usual treatment
Anyone with these signs and symptoms should consult their doctor; these symptoms may also arise from noncancerous conditions.

Many cancers will present with some of the above general symptoms but often have one or more symptoms that are more specific for the cancer type. For example, lung cancer may present with common symptoms of pain, but usually the pain is located in the chest. The patient may have unusual bleeding, but the bleeding usually occurs when the patient coughs. Lung cancer patients often become short of breath and then become very fatigued.

What are the different types of cancer?

There are over 200 types of cancer; far too numerous to include in this introductory article. However, the NCI lists several general categories (see list in first section of this article). This list is expanded below to list more specific types of cancers found in each general category; it is not all inclusive and the cancers listed in quotes are the general names of some cancers:

Carcinoma: Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs -- "skin, lung, colon, pancreatic, ovarian cancers," epithelial, squamous and basal cell carcinomas, melanomas, papillomas, and adenomas
Sarcoma: Cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue -- "bone, soft tissue cancers," osteosarcoma, synovial sarcoma, liposarcoma, angiosarcoma, rhabdosarcoma, and fibrosarcoma
Leukemia: Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood -- "leukemia," lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL and CLL), myelogenous leukemias (AML and CML), T-cell leukemia, and hairy-cell leukemia
Lymphoma and myeloma: Cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system -- "lymphoma," T-cell lymphomas, B-cell lymphomas, Hodgkin lymphomas, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and lymphoproliferative lymphomas
Central nervous system cancers: Cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord -- "brain and spinal cord tumors," gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas, primary CNS lymphomas, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors
Not included in the above types listed are metastatic cancers; this is because metastatic cancer cells usually arise from a cell type listed above and the major difference from the above types is that these cells are now present in a tissue from which the cancer cells did not originally develop. Consequently, if the terms "metastatic cancer" is used, for accuracy, the tissue from which the cancer cells arose should be included. For example, a patient may say they have or are diagnosed with "metastatic cancer" but the more accurate statement is "metastatic (breast, lung, colon, or other type) cancer with spread to the organ in which it has been found." Another example is the following: A doctor describing a man whose prostate cancer has spread to his bones should say the man has metastatic prostate cancer to bone. This is not "bone cancer," which would be cancer that started in the bone cells. Metastatic prostate cancer to bone is treated differently than lung cancer to bone.

Treatment for Cancer

The cancer treatment is based on the type of cancer and the stage of the cancer. In some people, diagnosis and treatment may occur at the same time if the cancer is entirely surgically removed when the surgeon removes the tissue for biopsy.

Although patients may receive a unique sequenced treatment, or protocol, for their cancer, most treatments have one or more of the following components: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or combination treatments (a combination of two or all three treatments).

Individuals obtain variations of these treatments for cancer. Patients with cancers that cannot be cured (completely removed) by surgery usually will get combination therapy, the composition determined by the cancer type and stage.

Palliative therapy (medical care or treatment used to reduce disease symptoms but unable to cure the patient) utilizes the same treatments described above. It is done with the intent to extend and improve the quality of life of the terminally ill cancer patient. There are many other palliative treatments to reduce symptoms such as pain medications and antinausea medications.

Alternative Home remedies for Cancer
Are there home remedies or alternative treatments for cancer?

There are many claims on the Internet and in publications about substances that treat cancer (for example, broccoli, grapes, ginseng, soybeans, green tea, aloe vera, and lycopene and treatments like acupuncture, vitamins, and dietary supplements). Almost every physician suggests that a balanced diet and good nutrition will help an individual combat cancer. Although some of these treatments may help reduce symptoms, there is no good evidence they can cure any cancers. Patients are strongly recommended to discuss any home remedies or alternative treatments with their cancer doctors before beginning any of these.

Is it possible to prevent cancer?

Most experts are convinced that many cancers can either be prevented or the risk of developing cancers can be markedly reduced. Some of the methods are simple; others are relatively extreme, depending on an individual's view.

Prevention of cancer, by avoiding its potential causes, is the simplest method. First on most clinicians and researchers list is to stop (or better, never start) smoking tobacco. Avoiding excess sunlight (by decreasing exposure or applying sunscreen) and many of the chemicals and toxins are excellent ways to avoid cancers. Avoiding contact with certain viruses and other pathogens also are likely to prevent some cancers. People who have to work close to cancer-causing agents (chemical workers, X-ray technicians, ionizing radiation researchers, asbestos workers) should follow all safety precautions and minimize any exposure to such compounds. Although the FDA and the CDC suggests that there is no scientific evidence that definitively says cell phones cause cancer, other agencies call for more research or indicate the risk is very low. Individuals who are concerned can limit exposure to cell phones by using an earpiece and simply make as few cell phone calls as possible.

There are two vaccines currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent specific types of cancer. Vaccines against the hepatitis B virus, which is considered a cause of some liver cancers, and vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 are available. According to the NCI, these viruses are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancers. These virus also plays a role in cancers arising in the head and neck, as well as cancers in the anal region, and probably in others. Today, vaccination against HPV is recommended in teenagers and young adults of both sexes. The HPV virus is so common that by the age of 50, half or more people have evidence of being exposed to it. Sipuleucel-T is a new vaccine approved by the FDA to help treat advanced prostate cancer. Although vaccine does not cure prostate cancer, it has been shown to help extend the lifespan of individuals with advanced prostate cancer.

People with a genetic predisposition to develop certain cancers and others with a history of cancers in their genetically linked relatives currently cannot change their genetic makeup. However, some individuals who have a high possibility of developing genetically linked cancer have taken actions to prevent cancer development. For example, some young women who have had many family members develop breast cancer have elected to have their breast tissue removed even if they have no symptoms or signs of cancer development to reduce or eliminate the possibility they will develop breast cancer. Some doctors consider this as an extreme measure to prevent cancer while others do not.

Screening tests and studies for cancer are meant to help detect a cancer at an early stage when the cancer is more likely to be potentially cured with treatment. Such screening studies are breast exams, testicular exams, colon-rectal exams (colonoscopy), mammography, certain blood tests, prostate exams, urine tests and others. People who have any suspicion that they may have cancer should discuss their concerns with their doctor as soon as possible. Screening recommendations have been the subject of numerous conflicting reports in recent years. Screening may not be cost effective for many groups of patients or lead to unnecessary further invasive tests, but individual patients' unique circumstances should always be considered by doctors in making recommendations about ordering or not ordering screening tests.

Info Source : Medicinenet

```DISCLAIMER```: The essence of these health articles provided are strictly for informational and awareness purposes only. You can make use  of this health tips, but if after you noticed your health status quo is not improving, PLEASE, CONSULT your PHYSICIANS for further medical diagnosis and treatments.