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Cancer: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Feb 29, 2024

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Types Of Cancers

Causes Of Cancer

What is the effect of gene mutations?

What causes gene mutations?

What connection exists between gene mutations?

Symptoms Of Cancer

Risk Factors Of Cancer 

Diagnosis of cancer

Stages Of Cancer

Treatment Of Cancer

Prevention Of Cancer

Complications Of Cancer

Cancer Types

Cancers are a broad category of diseases characterized by the formation of abnormal cells that proliferate uncontrollably and have the potential to invade and destroy healthy body tissue. However, survival rates for a variety of cancer forms are increasing as a result of developments in cancer detection, treatment, and prevention.


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Types Of Cancers

Cancers are named after the tissue they begin in and the type of cell they are composed of, even if they spread to other parts of the body. For example, cancer that begins in the lungs and spreads to the liver is still referred to as lung cancer.

Furthermore, a variety of clinical terms are employed to delineate particular prevalent types of cancer:

  • A carcinoma is a type of cancer that starts in the skin or tissues lining other organs.
  • Sarcoma is a kind of cancer that mostly affects connective tissues, such as cartilage, muscles, bones, and blood vessels.
  • Leukaemia is a cancer of the bone marrow that causes the production of red blood cells.
  • Lymphoma and myeloma are examples of immune system cancers.

Use the links below to learn more about particular types of cancer.

Cervical cancer Colorectal or colon cancer Cancer of the appendix
Endometrial cancer Bladder cancer Bone cancer
Liver cancer Brain tumours Gallbladder cancer
Renal cancer Larynx cancer Leukaemia
Lungs cancer Cancer of the lymph nodes Mesothelioma
Ovarian cancer Pancreatic cancer Penile cancer
Prostate cancer Rectum cancer Skin cancer
Spleen cancer Stomach cancer or gastric cancer Testicular cancer
Thyroid cancer Uterine cancer Vaginal cancer

Also Read: Esophageal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Causes Of Cancer

Cancer is primarily caused by mutations in cellular DNA. The DNA of a cell is arranged into several unique genes, each of which contains a set of instructions governing the growth and division of the cell as well as the functions it should do. Errors in the instructions can cause a cell to stop working properly and even become cancerous.

What is the effect of gene mutations?

A mutant gene may instruct a healthy cell to:

  • Rapid growth: A gene mutation can be used to direct a cell's growth and division. Many more cells with the same mutation are created.
  • Failure to stop unregulated cell division: To attain the perfect balance of each cell type, normal cells know when to stop reproducing. Cancer cells lose the tumor suppressor genes, which instruct them when to cease developing. A mutation in the tumor suppressor gene allows cancer cells to grow and proliferate.
  • Make errors when attempting to repair DNA errors: Genes that repair DNA look for and correct errors in a cell's genetic code. Cells may develop cancer if a mutation in a DNA repair gene stops other errors from being corrected. These are the most common mutations seen in cancer. However, there are a plethora of additional gene defects that can lead to cancer.

What causes gene mutations?

Gene mutations may result from several factors, including:

  • Genetic alterations inherited at birth. It's conceivable that you inherited a genetic mutation from your parents at birth
  • Gene mutations that occur after birth. Most gene mutations occur postnatally and are not inherited. Gene changes can be caused by a variety of things, such as smoking, radiation, viruses, carcinogens (substances that cause cancer), obesity, hormones, chronic inflammation, and inactivity.
  • Gene mutations usually occur during normal cell growth. Cells, on the other hand, are equipped with a system that can identify and correct mistakes. Errors can occasionally go undiscovered. This could result in the development of a cancerous cell.

What connection exists between gene mutations?

Gene mutations that you are born with and those that you pick up along the way combine to cause cancer.

For instance, there's no assurance that you will develop cancer merely because you were born with a genetic mutation that increases your risk of the disease. On the other hand, cancer may only result from one or several extra gene changes. Because of an inherited gene mutation, you might be more likely than others to develop cancer from a specific cancer-causing substance.

It's unclear how many precise mutations are required to cause cancer. Depending on the type of cancer, this may vary.

Also Read: Throat Cancer: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Symptoms Of Cancer

The signs and symptoms that manifest will depend on the part of the body that is affected by cancer.

Although not specific to cancer, some general signs and symptoms of the illness consist of:

  • Tired
  • Thick area or lump beneath the skin.
  • Weight fluctuations, including unintentional gain or loss
  • Moles, chronic sores, skin yellowing, darkening, or redness are examples of skin modifications.
  • Alterations to one's bowel or bladder habits
  • Breathing problems or a persistent cough
  • Having difficulty sibilantly speaking
  • Persistent dyspepsia or discomfort after eating persistent, unexplained discomfort in the joints or muscles
  • Continuous sweats or fevers that don't go away
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

Also Read: Ampullary Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

Risk Factors Of Cancer 

Most cancer occurrences occur in people who have no recognized risk factors, even though doctors are aware of some things that can increase your risk. Cancer risk is known to increase with the following:

  • Age: Malignancy may take decades to manifest. Many cancer patients are 65 years of age or older as a result. Cancer is not just an adult sickness; a diagnosis can arrive at any age, even though it is more common in older adults.
  • Hereditary Factors: Hereditary factors are responsible for just a small portion of cancer cases. If cancer is in your family, there's a good chance that genetic abnormalities are being passed down through the generations. You might be a candidate for genetic testing to determine whether you have any inherited mutations that could increase your risk of getting certain cancers. Recall that a genetic mutation passed down through the family does not ensure cancer development.
  • Medical condition: You are far more likely to get some types of cancer if you have certain long-term medical conditions, such as ulcerative colitis.
  • Environment: There may be harmful substances in your environment that increase the risk of cancer. Even if you don't smoke, you could still be breathing in secondhand smoke if you live with someone who does or go to areas where others smoke. Chemicals like asbestos and benzene that might be found in your home or place of work are also associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Also Read: Ureteral Carcinoma: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of cancer

The best chance of recovery is often provided by an early cancer diagnosis. Talk to your doctor about the kinds of cancer tests that could be appropriate for you in light of this.

Research suggests that early detection of certain malignancies using screening tests can save lives. It is recommended that people who are at higher risk get screening testing for different cancers.

Numerous medical organizations and patient advocacy groups offer recommendations and guidelines for cancer screening. You and your doctor can review the medical cancer diagnosis

One or more of the following techniques may be used by your doctor to diagnose cancer:

  • Physical assessment: To feel for malignant tumors, your doctor may palpate specific areas of your body. During a physical exam, your doctor may look for abnormalities that could indicate the presence of cancer, such as changes in skin color or enlargement of an organ. Any guidelines and determine which is most appropriate for you based on your cancer risk factors.
  • Lab experiments: Laboratory testing, such as blood and urine tests, may be used by your doctor to identify irregularities that may be connected to cancer. For instance, a standard blood test called a complete blood count can detect abnormally high or low white blood cell counts in leukemia patients.
  • Imaging tests: Using imaging tests, your doctor can make a non-invasive examination of your interior organs and bones. The diagnosis of cancer may involve the use of computerized tomography (CT), bone, positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, X-rays, and other imaging techniques.
  • Biopsy: During a biopsy, your doctor takes a sample of cells so that tests can be done in the lab. Which biopsy technique is appropriate for you will depend on the type and location of your cancer. The majority of the time, a biopsy is the only way to definitively identify cancer. In the lab, doctors analyze cell samples beneath a microscope. Normal cells are homogeneous in appearance, with similar sizes and an organized arrangement. Cancer cells differ in diameter and appear less symmetrical and disorganized.

Also Read: Kidney Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Staging, Treatment and Prevention

Stages Of Cancer 

Once a diagnosis has been determined, your doctor will attempt to determine the extent (stage) of your cancer. Your doctor uses the stage of your cancer to determine the best course of therapy and prognosis for you.

To find out if the cancer has progressed to other parts of the body, imaging tests like X-rays and bone scans may be used as part of the staging procedure.

The stages of cancer are represented by the numbers 0 through 4, which are also frequently written as the Roman numerals 0 through IV. Higher values suggest a further advanced cancer. For some cancer forms, the cancer stage is represented by a word or set of letters.

Also Read: Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Treatment Of Cancer

The goal of your therapy is to get rid of the cancer so you can get back to living your normal life. Whether or if this is feasible will depend on your specific circumstances.

Any method of cancer treatment can be the primary cancer treatment; however, for the most common types of malignancies, surgery is the most often used initial cancer treatment. If your cancer responds particularly well to radiation therapy or chemotherapy, such treatments may be the mainstay of your care.

There are many tools available to doctors for the treatment of cancer. Treatment options for cancer consist of:

  • Surgery: The goal of surgery is to remove the cancer, or as much of it as is practical.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses powerful energy beams, such as protons and X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be applied externally (from a machine outside your body) or internally (brachytherapy).
  • Exchange of bone marrow: Bone marrow is the material found inside your bones that makes red blood cells. In a bone marrow transplant, your cells or donor cells may be used. If you receive a bone marrow transplant, your doctor may be able to treat your cancer with higher doses of chemotherapy. It can also be used to replace faulty bone marrow.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy, also known as biological therapy, works by strengthening your body's defenses against cancer. Cancer can proliferate unchecked in your body because your immune system does not view it as an invader. Immunotherapy helps your immune system "see" and fight cancer.
  • Hormone therapy: Certain types of cancer might be fueled by the hormones in your body. Two examples are breast and prostate cancer. It may be possible to stop the cancer cells from growing by removing the hormones from the body or by blocking their actions.
  • Targeted drug therapy: Targeted medication therapy focuses on specific flaws in cancer cells that allow them to survive.
  • Adjuvant treatment: Adjuvant therapy tries to destroy any cancer cells that may remain after primary treatment to reduce the chance that the cancer may return. Cancer treatment can always include adjuvant therapy. Examples of common adjuvant therapies include hormone therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
  • Palliative care: Palliative care can relieve both the side effects and symptoms caused by the disease. When there is no chance of a cure, cancer patients can control their symptoms and halt the disease's course with the help of treatments including radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and hormone therapy. Pharmacological interventions can address dyspnea and pain as symptoms. Apart from standard cancer therapies, which are meant to treat the disease, you might also get palliative care.
  • Clinical practice trials: Clinical trials are investigations of new cancer treatments. Thousands of clinical studies are being carried out for cancer. Your options for treatment may vary depending on the type of cancer you have.

Also Read: Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

Prevention Of Cancer

The following are some of the methods that doctors have found to reduce your risk of cancer:

  • Stop smoking: In that case, stop smoking. If you do not smoke, do not begin. There are other malignancies linked to smoking, not simply lung cancer. You will have a decreased risk of cancer if you give up now.
  • Avoid being in the sun for too long: The sun's damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays raise the risk of skin cancer. Use sunscreen, cover up with protective clothing, or stay in the shade to cut down on the amount of time you spend in the sun.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet: Opt for a diet high in fruits and veggies. Select nutritious grains and lean proteins. 
  • Exercise: Regular exercise has been linked to a decreased risk of cancer. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. If you haven't been exercising regularly, start with moderate activity and work your way up to 30 minutes or more.
  • Maintain a balanced weight: You run a higher risk of developing cancer if you are obese or overweight. Combine regular exercise with a well-balanced diet to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Drink alcohol cautiously: Make sure you only infrequently drink if that's your choice. For people in good health, this equates to a maximum of one drink for women and two for men per day.
  • Schedule an examination for cancer screening: Discuss the best cancer screening tests for you with your doctor based on your risk factors.
  • Consult with your physician about vaccines: Several viruses increase your risk of cancer. Immunizations can aid in the prevention of some viruses, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), which raises the risk of cervical cancer and other malignancies, and hepatitis B, which raises the risk of liver cancer. Consult your physician to determine whether you should have a vaccination against any particular viruses.

Also Read: Adrenal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

Complications Of Cancer

Cancer and its treatment can cause several issues, including

  • Pain: Pain can be caused by cancer, even though not all cancers are severe, or by the medicines used to treat it. Cancer-related pain can be effectively managed with medication and other techniques.
  • Tired: There are various causes for cancer patients' weariness, however it is usually treatable. Fatigue after chemotherapy or radiation therapy is frequent, although usually only lasts a short while.
  • Difficulty breathing: Breathlessness could be a side effect of cancer therapy or the disease itself. There might be a chance for therapy relief.
  • Nausea: Certain cancers and their therapies can cause nausea. In certain cases, your doctor can predict if a treatment may make you ill. You may be able to prevent or reduce nausea with the help of medication and other therapy.
  • Constipation as well as diarrhea: Diarrhea or constipation may be adverse reactions to cancer or its treatments.
  • Weight loss: Cancer and cancer therapies can cause weight loss. Cancer causes normal cells to lose their nourishment and nutrients. It is often unaffected by calorie intake or type of diet and is difficult to cure. Usually, artificial feeding through stomach tubes or veins has minimal impact on weight loss.
  • Alterations to the chemistry of your body: Cancer can upset the natural chemical balance in your body, which increases the risk of serious repercussions. Constipation, frequent urination, increased thirst, and confusion are just a few of the indications and symptoms of chemical imbalances.
  • Brain and neurological problems: Neural compression caused by cancer can cause pain and loss of function in a specific area of the body. Headaches and stroke-like symptoms, such as weakness on one side of the body, can be caused by brain cancer.
  • Metastatic cancer: Cancer has the potential to spread (metastasize) to different body parts as it progresses. The type of cancer determines where it spreads.
  • Cancer that returns: Cancer survivors have an increased risk of developing new cancer. Different cancers have different chances of coming back. To learn how to reduce your risk of getting cancer again, speak with your doctor. The plan for your follow-up care may be developed by your physician after therapy. This technique may involve routine tests and scans to monitor for cancer recurrence in the months and years after treatment.

Also Read: Angiosarcoma: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

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