What is cancer?
Cancer is the disease in which cells start growing abnormally in different parts of the body often creating tumors. These abnormal cells usually keep on growing and spread to other parts of the body. While in many cases these cancerous cells also attack the healthy cells, killing them.
Cancer is among the diseases that kill the majority of people every year and treatments are usually expensive and complicated. It is estimated that there are around 100 million cancer patients in the world. Over the years millions of people have been killed by cancer while only a handful was able to get fully treated. Even when a patient has been treated they are always at a risk of developing cancer again.
What are common types of cancer?
To date, almost 100 different types of cancers that affect the human body have been discovered. Every year almost 10 million people die of cancer. Listed below are some of the most common and lethal type of cancers in the world.
The death ration of patients suffering from lung cancer is the highest among all types of cancers. Almost 150,000 people die from this cancer every year and 250,000 new patients are diagnosed with this cancer every year. With air pollution and smoking on the rise, the number of patients is rapidly increasing every year.
It is one of the most common types of cancer in the US. It is a common misconception that it only affects women, but the reality is that even men can suffer from it. Every year there are around 300,000 new cases of breast cancer and the number of deaths is around 50,000. The good thing is that it can easily be detected and treated.
Also known as melanoma. This cancer affects the skin cells that are responsible for making the pigment that gives the skin its color. People usually think that this cancer only affects the skin but it can also affect other parts of the body such as eyes. There are approximately 100,000 new cases every year and nearly 8,000 people die of this cancer.
This is the most common type of cancer in the US. It usually affects people over the age of 50 but is also found among younger people. Every year there are around 30,000 deaths from prostate cancer and 200,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. This cancer is treatable and the great majority of patients recover if treated on time.
Colorectal cancers are the ones that affect the large intestines, colon, and rectum. The number of people suffering from this cancer is increasing rapidly and it is usually attributed to improper diet and lack of physical activities. There are 150,000 new cases every year and about 50,000 people lose their lives to this cancer every year.
This is a type of cancer that affects the bladder and is common among older men. There are an estimated 20,000 possible deaths caused by this cancer and the number of new cases every year is around 80,000.
This cancer usually develops in one of the kidneys as a small tumor which is called renal cell carcinoma. It tends to spread ureter, which is the tube that connects the kidney and the bladder. There are around 80,000 new cases of this cancer every year and deaths due to this cancer average at around 15,000.
There are three types of blood cancers that are common. The first and most common is Leukemia, which originates in the blood and bone marrow. This cancer forces the body to produce a lower number of red blood cells and platelets, and instead create an excessive amount of abnormal white blood cells. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is cancer that affects the lymphatic system of the body. This system consists of lymphocytes which are the body’s defense against infections. Patients with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma lose immunity and are at high risk of dying due to even the simplest infections. The third type of blood cancer is Hodgkin lymphoma, in which Reed-Sternberg cells are present in the lymphatic system. Every year around 70,000 people die from blood cancers, with around 180,000 new cases.
As the name suggests this cancer appears in the pancreas. After that, it spreads to other organs around the pancreas and it can make cases really complicated as it spreads to other organs including kidneys, liver, and intestines. There is an estimated increase of 60,000 patients suffering from this cancer, while 45,000 people lose their lives each year to this cancer.
Liver cancer affects the liver cells and spreads to other organs around the liver if not diagnosed or treated on time. There are two common types of liver cancer hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma. Almost 75% of cases of liver cancer are due to hepatocellular carcinoma, which develops in the liver cells that are known as hepatocytes and can easily spread to the pancreas, intestines, and stomach. Cholangiocarcinoma affects small bile ducts in the liver that connect it to the gallbladder. About 15-20% of cases of liver cancer are due to cholangiocarcinoma.
There are four common types of thyroid cancer. Anaplastic, follicular, medullary, and papillary thyroid cancer. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the hardest to treat while papillary is the most common and easiest to treat. There are 50,000 new cases of all types of thyroid cancers every year, while 2,000 deaths occur from these cancers.
What are symptoms of a cancer?
As cancer is a really complicated disease and there are more than 100 different types of cancer that affect the human body, so the list of symptoms will be endless. Yet there are few symptoms that patients should look out for and consult a doctor to get a full physical examination and testing to check for cancer. Listed below are some of these symptoms.
- Growth of a lump common in breast cancer
- A persistent cough is common in lung cancer
- Change in bowel movement or blood in stool is common with colon cancer
- Unexplained anemia can be a sign of blood cancer
- Frequent urination, a small amount of urine, or slow urine flow can be caused by prostate, kidney, or bladder cancer.
- Blood in urine, stool, cough or vomit can be due to one type of cancer
- Sudden unexplained weight loss can be caused by cancer
- Change in skin color, rashes or boils can be caused by skin cancers
How is cancer treated?
Over the last few decades, many different procedures have been introduced for cancer treatment. Yet there are just a handful of treatments that have proven to be effective. In most of the cases with abnormal cell growths, doctors start with surgery to remove the majority of the cancerous cells. After that patients go through chemotherapy. In certain cases, doctors might not need to perform a surgery. In chemotherapy, patients are given certain chemotherapeutic agents that kill cancerous cells and stop their growth. Apart from chemotherapy doctors also use radiation therapy to kill the cancerous cells. In radiation therapy, ionizing radiations are used to damage the DNA of cancerous cells and tissues to kill them. Apart from surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy there are many other treatment options available that include immunotherapy and laser therapy.
Over the years many researchers have turned towards alternative medicines and herbal medicines and procedures for cancer treatment. Most of these procedures have not been studied, researched, or tested in order to get any conclusions about their effectiveness, yet the number of people using alternative treatments has increased over the years. Patients need to make sure that they consult a doctor before going for any alternative treatments and never stop the conventional treatments unless advised by a doctor.