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Today, we live in a fast-paced world. With everything from smartphones to social media, life is more connected than ever before. And that connectivity has brought about some great things: increased awareness of the importance of regular health screenings, for instance, and access to cheap and convenient diagnostic tools like home urine tests and blood tests. But it’s also brought something that hasn’t been so positive: increased awareness of different types of cancer. No longer can we ignore symptoms or assume that something is not as threatening as it appears at first glance; today’s world calls out specific signs and symptoms of various forms of cancer in ways that were simply unnecessary before. Not surprisingly, cancer-related cases have risen significantly over the past decade. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there will be almost 2 million new cases in 2018 alone (up from 1.7 million in 2007). Further, the ACS predicts that nearly 5% of Americans will develop invasive cancer by 2030 — an increase of 2 percentage points over current projections. If you’re concerned about your own risk of developing any type of cancer or if you know someone who is concerned, here’s everything you need to know about this disturbing trend today
What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which normal cells in the body grow out of control. This happens when cells don’t stop reproducing — instead of building new tissue, they keep multiplying. There are many types of cancer, but they all start when a cell multiplies too fast and doesn’t stop reproducing. Cancer can happen in many different parts of the body. Some cancers are found in the mouth, throat, uterus (womb), breasts, colon, and rectum. Others are found in the skin, lungs, and liver. Still, others develop in the eyes, brain, or bone. Many more types of cancers aren’t found in these places.
How common is cancer in the United States?
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 5% of all deaths in the United States are due to cancer. Many factors contribute to the risk of getting cancer, including a person’s age, gender, family history, ethnicity, and diet. But it’s also important to note that cancer is not one disease, but many different diseases that often occur together.
Symptoms of Cancer: When to see a doctor?
When people are diagnosed with cancer, many are surprised to learn that it has probably been growing in their bodies for quite some time. Many cancer patients don’t feel sick or experience symptoms until the cancer has spread throughout the body. Lifestyle changes and a healthy diet are often recommended for cancer prevention. But if you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. – Prolonged or recurring abnormal discharge from the nose or mouth. – Chronic abnormal bleeding from the mouth or rectum. – Prolonged abnormal discharge from the eyes, ears, or nose. – Persistent difficulties walking or standing.
Risk factors and causes of cancer
Like any other disease, cancer has several risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing the disease. For example, certain genetic mutations can increase the risk of certain cancers. Some infections, like the human papillomavirus (HPV), can make a person more likely to get cancer. And a person’s age also plays a role — the older a person is, the more likely he or she is to develop certain forms of cancer. Also, some cancers are caused by environmental factors, such as drinking alcohol and smoking, being around certain chemicals, and breathing in air pollution.
Types of Cancer and their symptoms
The most common types of cancer are listed below. For a more detailed breakdown of the symptoms associated with each type of cancer, see our article on cancer symptoms. – Breast cancer: Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, headaches, and weight loss. – Colorectal (bowel) cancer: Abnormal stool, blood in stool, or both. – Liver cancer: Jaundice, pain or discomfort in the abdomen, certain odors on the breath, and bleeding or blood in the vomit or stool. – Lung cancer: Cracked or hoarse voice, persistent cough, rapid breathing, fatigue, or shortness of breath. – Ovarian cancer: Missed menstrual periods or vaginal bleeding that continues after menopause. – Prostate cancer: Difficulty urinating, frequent urination, or a weak urine stream. Pancreatic cancer symptoms include unusual weight loss or bloating, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Treatment of Cancer
The goal of treating cancer is to kill the cancer cells, prevent them from returning, and stop the disease from returning. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, doctors order tests to determine the type and stage of the disease. Once a person knows what type of cancer he or she has, they can begin receiving treatment. Cancer treatment can take many forms, including medication, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Some treatments, like chemotherapy, are given by a healthcare provider in a hospital, while others, like antibiotics, are given by a doctor in his or her office. For many forms of cancer, complete remission (no signs of disease in the body) is the ultimate goal. But for others, such as pancreatic cancer, a person’s quality of life can be the most important factor.
Coping with the side effects of cancer treatment
Cancer treatment can have various side effects, some of which can be serious. Most people who undergo treatment for cancer experience at least one side effect during or after treatment. Side effects can vary depending on the person, their treatment, and where they receive treatment. Others are side effects that occur regardless of treatment. For instance, vaginal dryness and infections are common side effects of specific treatment forms, such as certain types of chemotherapy or radiation. At the same time, weight gain is typically a result of treatment.
Doctors have done regular screenings to learn more about cancer and lower the risk of getting it. The main goal of these screenings is to identify cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat and less likely to spread. While screening has had some successes, it also comes with some downsides. For instance, screening tests like the Pap test are limited in their ability to detect some cancers. And in some cases, testing for cancer may come with a significant emotional toll. Now that you are armed with all the information you need to know, you can make informed decisions about your own risk for cancer, as well as the risk of your loved ones. And, most importantly, you can help your loved ones detect cancer early.