Today, February 4, is World Cancer Day
One million new cancer cases in India every year!
Reason? A majority of cancer deaths happen due to lack of awareness.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, they assume that death is inevitable. It is true that death is inevitable, eventually, for everyone…but cancer is not the only culprit. Although survival rates for certain types of cancer are not encouraging, this is usually because of late detection. By the time the cancer is discovered, it has spread (metastasis) and multiple organ failure begins. Awareness is key.
World Cancer Day 2014
Fact is, anyone can get cancer, regardless of age, gender, economic status or health condition. When we accept this fact, understanding the disease is the next step. Knowing about how the symptoms are likely to present themselves can make all the difference between life and death.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a group of a 100+ diseases manifested by abnormal uncontrolled cell growth. In healthy people, cells grow, die and are replaced in a pattern. When some cells don’t die, there is damage or a change in the cell’s genetic material. This makes them multiply as they are until they build up into a tumor. Death due to cancer is invariably because of “metastasis” – the spreading of cancer cells into the circulatory system. They encroach on other parts of the body, much like thugs and simply settle down where they please.
Shocking fact: Cancer is the leading cause of death in people below age 85
In the US, 1 out of 4 people die from cancer. In India there are nearly three million cancer patients and this is likely to increase by one million every year.
Recognizing the symptoms of cancer
Broadly, if fever, body ache, unusual weight loss and a general sense of being unwell persists for over three months, cancer can be a likely reason. Now is the time to consult a doctor and go through a series of blood tests to start the diagnosis. While fever is typical, one can also suffer from extreme fatigue as a result of low hemoglobin levels.
There is no one-size-fits-all list of symptoms for cancer as each individual is unique. However, here are some common symptoms to watch out for, that could mean various types of cancer.
- Intestinal cancer symptoms manifest as alternating diarrhea and constipation for longer than is normal
- Throat cancer shows up as a persistent cough and hoarse voice in spite of treatment with antibiotics
- Gastrointestinal cancer is suspected when there is blood in stools.
- Kidney cancer is likely when urine is reddish along with fever and abdominal pain
- Oral cancer is possible when mouth ulcers do not heal, particularly in smokers and tobacco users.
- Uterine cancer follows prolonged menstrual bleeding and periods that last more than ten days or extend to weeks
- Lung cancer is preceded by blood in the phlegm along with a persistent cough
- Liver cancer can result from recurring jaundice
- Breast cancer is suspected when lumps are discovered in the breasts, although not all may be malignant. It is recommended that women over 35 years should get a mammogram done at least once in two years.
- Skin cancers can develop when a wart or mole act unusual.
In general, any change in the body that presents itself as a thickening or lump must not be ignored. Early screening means better chances of survival.
In spite of advancing technology and knowledge, there are some myths about cancer that we must know. Here are the most common ones:
Men don’t get breast cancer
Yes – men can get breast cancer too. Almost 80% men are at risk and have no idea. If you are male and have a lump in the breast area, see your doctor.
Cancer is usually fatal
Not always. New treatment methods promise survival. Proof is in the form of thousands of cancer survivors.
Cancer is contagious
No. Cancer is not contagious. But there are contagious cancer-causing viruses HPV and Hepatitis C. HPV causes cervical cancer and Hep C causes liver cancer and both viruses can be transmitted via unprotected sex , shared needles and blood transfusions.
Positive thinking cures cancer
We wish. Cancer must be properly treated. Positive thinking can certainly make the recovery process easier.
Lung cancer happens only to smokers
Smoking is only one of the causes of lung cancer. Other causes are heavy exposure to asbestos, radon, uranium, arsenic, second hand smoke and genetic predisposition, lung scarring from any prior illness.
Light or mild cigarettes don’t cause much harm
Fact is, they are more harmful since you end up inhaling more smoke. Reduce your risk of cancer by quitting smoking.
Your risk of cancer cannot be reduced.
False. Stop smoking. Eat healthy. Exercise. Ensure protected sex. Use sunscreen when out in the sun and avoid intravenous drugs to stay healthy.
All abnormal growths are cancerous
Benign tumors do not spread like malignant tumors and can be treated or surgically removed.
Being diagnosed with cancer is not good news. The good news however, is, it can be cured.
Stay informed. Stay healthy.
Because Knowledge is power. Power to heal.
Linking this post to Write Tribe’s World Cancer Day post link up