Cancer or commonly termed ‘tumor’ is characterized by uncontrolled growth of cell(s) that over cedes the natural regulatory control of the cell cycle.

Nature of cancer

Based on the growth and spread, tumors can be either malignant or benign. Malignant tumors originate at a different site, but progressively invades its surrounding tissue(s) and/or spread from its primary location to distant parts/organs of the body. Benign tumors, in contrast, do not spread from their original site to other sites and therefore remain localized at one site.

Types

There are more than 100 types of cancers including breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma, and many more affecting the lives of millions of people around the globe.

General symptoms of cancer

Although different types of cancers can have different symptoms, there can be a few common symptoms as well. These symptoms depend on the location, size, and extent of damage to other organs or tissues and can be caused as a result of illness, injury, or other factors due to existing cancer in the body. Symptoms can be:

  • Fever
  • Extreme tiredness from a long time (Chronic fatigue)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Unexplained bleeding from any body part
  • Lump/ discharge/ unusual changes in the breasts
  • Persistent cough
  • Blood in sputum
  • Any sore or ulcer that will not heal
  • Very heavy night sweats

Risk factors of cancer

Cancers are caused by inherited mutations, induced by environmental factors, or can be a result of

  • Cigarette Smoking and Tobacco Use
  • Alcohol
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Infections – Human papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses, Helicobacter pylori, etc.
  • Radiation – Ultraviolet radiation, Ionizing radiation such as x-rays, etc.
  • Diet – Unhealthy and junk foods, processed food, charcoal-broiled meat, etc.
  • Environmental Risk Factors – Exposure to chemicals and other environmental substances such as air pollution, chemical-containing water, etc.
  • Genetics – DNA replication errors, mutational errors in DNA, etc.

Treatment of Cancer

The mainstay of cancer treatment involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, bone marrow transplant, or hormone therapy.

The treatment of cancer mainly depends on the type, stage, and extent of cancer along with the patient’s clinical condition. Some of the people will have only one treatment whereas others might receive a combination of therapies. Medical Oncology/Chemotherapy is the use of specialized medications, to control and eradicate cancerous cells throughout a patient’s body.

Cancer treatments can be used as primary treatment – to completely remove the cancer cells from the body, adjuvant treatment – to kill any cancer cell that remains after the primary treatment to prevent the recurrence of cancer and palliative treatment – to help the patient relief from the side effects of cancer treatment or sign and symptoms caused by cancer itself.

American Oncology Institute (AOI) provides all treatment modalities for cancer including medical, surgical, and radiation oncology. AOI’s medical oncology team includes extremely proficient doctors with expertise in the latest techniques in chemotherapy and determine the right treatment plan for each individual based on various factors as the stage of cancer, the extent of the damage, other medical conditions, and location within the body.

Steps for Cancer Prevention

Avoid Tobacco Use

Several types of cancer have been associated with the use of tobacco products, including lung, colorectal, breast, stomach, cervical, liver, mouth, and esophagus. Approximately 90% of all lung cancer is associated with smoking. Non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are also at risk.

Protect Skin from Sun

Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Apply appropriate cream or lotion to protect from sun protection.

Healthy Diet

Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Limit red meat or cut meat that has been processed. Alcohol can increase the risk of liver, colorectal, and breast cancer, so limit the consumption of alcohol.

Healthy Weight and Physical Fitness

Every day at least 30 minutes of physical activity will make a big difference in the overall health and well-being. Breast and colorectal cancer have been linked with inactivity and obesity, as well as some evidence of a connection to lung and pancreatic cancer. Exercise can reduce stress, increase energy, boost the immune system, control weight, and reduce the risk of cancer.

Safe Sex

Human papillomavirus strains (HPV) are spread during vaginal, anal, and oral sex through the skin to skin contact. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) may also spread by unprotected sex from person to person. It can cause long-term infections of the liver, which can increase the chance of a person developing liver cancer.

Immunization

About one-third of liver cancers are associated with hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) viruses. The HBV vaccine is recommended and available for babies, older children who have not been previously vaccinated, are at risk of HBV infection.

Family Medical History

Many tests can help detect cancer early when treatment is more likely to succeed, and some can even detect precancerous conditions before becoming cancer.

Screening Tests

Regular screening tests may detect breast, cervical, and colorectal (colon) cancers early. For some people who are at high risk, screening is recommended for cancer.

  • Lifestyle Choices
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit sedentary habits such as sitting, lying down, watching TV, and other types of screen-based entertainment.
  • Eat a healthy diet, focusing on plant foods
  • Get Routine Medical Care
  • Reduce Exposure to Environmental Carcinogens

Cancer Care Management During COVID-19

The environmental carcinogens should be assessed with the detection of possible cancer-inducing agents by evaluating chemicals imported, manufactured, and marketed. Indirect exposure assessments can be carried out by assessing environmental pollution sources, including specific industries and waste incineration, which release environmental polluting chemicals. One should take care to prevent exposure to these environmental carcinogens to prevent cancer.

© The Eastern Herald

About author:

MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine), DM (Medical Oncology), Medical Oncologist at American Oncology Institute, Hyderabad, India. Contributor to The Eastern Herald.

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