A complete overview of cancer and its effects

Contributed by: Nancy Dixit

Introduction

Cancer is potentially fatal and is currently the second most lethal condition in the world. Fortunately, many cancers are successfully treated with prompt care.

Did you know that approximately 39.5% of all people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives?

Through this article, we bring you some unique insights about cancer and an overview of its effects.

What is cancer?

Simply put, cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that grow at a faster rate than normal and spread throughout the body, damaging normal healthy cells.

These abnormal cells combine to form a lump, also known as a tumor.

Tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign).
When a cancerous tumor invades or spreads to nearby tissue and forms a new tumor, this process is called Metastasis

There are two main categories of cancer:

  • Hematologic Cancer (Blood Cancer)

This type of cancer originates in blood-forming tissues, such as bone marrow or cells of the immune system.

For example: leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Solid tumor cancer is cancer of other organs or tissues in the body.

For example: breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer etc.

Disagree: Cancer is a genetic disease caused by changes in genes that control how our cells function, specifically how they grow and divide.

In such circumstances, DNA testing or genetic testing May be the best option to know if you are prone to cancer.

Cancer usually has four stages:

This is an early stage, where a small, aggressive mass or tumor has been found, but has not spread to lymph nodes or other tissues.

It is localized cancer where the mass begins to grow in size and affects nearby tissue.

This is regional spread where the cancer begins to affect nearby tissue. It begins to enlarge and may spread to lymph nodes or other tissues.

It is also called advanced or metastatic cancer. At this stage, the cancer has spread to other organs beyond the area where it originated.

Common symptoms of cancer:

  • tiredness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A mole or wart that changes in appearance
  • constant pain
  • Fever that occurs mostly at night
  • Skin changes
  • An unusual lump
  • hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing

However, having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have cancer. But if you experience any of these unusual symptoms, you must talk to your healthcare provider.

Effects of cancer

Many complications arise when cancer is diagnosed. This happens because the rate of cells increases exponentially, which causes additional problems and attacks essential organs like the liver, lungs and brain and stops them from working properly.

These complications may be due to the primary cancer or it may be cancer that has metastasized from one part of the body to another. For example, breast cancer spreads to the lungs.

Now let’s discuss the complications that can cause cancer:

Malnutrition:

Yes it is true! People with cancer are at higher risk of malnutrition than other people.

Because of this malnutrition, the body tends to break down fat and muscle, which eventually leads to fatigue or weight loss.

Bone pain:

Bone metastasis is a medical condition that occurs when cancer cells spread from their original site to the bone. This leads to bone pain that can severely affect quality of life.

Almost all cancers have the ability to “metastasize” (spread) to bone. But some types of cancer are especially likely to spread to bone, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Hypercalcemia:

Hypercalcemia means too much calcium in the blood. When it develops in people with cancer, it is referred to as hypercalcemia of malignancy (HCM).

This condition is the most common life-threatening complication of cancer in adults. It can interfere with the proper functioning of the heart, kidneys and muscles.

Sometimes, it can cause neurological symptoms as well as confusion, memory loss and depression.

Hypercalcemia rarely develops in children, but 10-20% of adults with cancer have a tendency to develop hypercalcemia.

Venous thromboembolism:

In layman’s terms, venous thromboembolism (VTE), means a blood clot in a vein. Venous thromboembolism (VTE), including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), is a common complication in cancer patients. Cancer patients have a 4 to 7 times higher risk of VTE than non-cancer patients.

Liver damage:

Cancers that spread to the liver (such as colon, lung, or breast) are more common than cancers that originate in liver cells.

Liver cancer affects the normal function of the liver which can cause jaundice and other life-threatening conditions.

Cancer that starts in another part of the body and then spreads to the liver is called metastatic cancer rather than liver cancer.

Blood and blood vessel problems:

Cancers that develop in the blood vessels or bone marrow can interfere with the production of red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells, etc.

Last thought

Don’t give up when you are diagnosed with cancer. 50% of cancer and cancer deaths are preventable. There are plenty of resources to help you cope with almost every type of cancer.

However, going through cancer treatment can be a stressful journey as it can drain the person emotionally and financially.

It’s a fact- “Early detection saves lives”

However, the risk of these complications can be reduced if the cancer is diagnosed in time and local therapy and systemic treatment are applied at the appropriate time.

Although cancer is common, only 5-10% of it is hereditary, meaning a person has an increased risk of cancer from one of their parents.

It has to do with your family history and genetics. If you have a family health history of cancer, you are more likely to develop cancer.

To determine how vulnerable you may be to acquiring hereditary cancer, Customized DNA testing Or genetic testing is the best option.

Also, periodic health checkups are a good step to keep an eye on your overall health as you begin your journey to a cancer-free, normal state!

Book a full physical health exam today!

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