Cancer. The word can strike fear into the hearts of most people. But how much do you really know about this condition? There are various types of cancers.
Cancer is a term applied to a group of over 200 conditions. It develops when cells mutate and begin to multiply uncontrollably, without normal cell death mechanisms in place. These malignant cells often spread to other parts of the body where they damage more tissue.
Cancer myths and misconceptions spread misinformation and can stop people from getting diagnosed and getting the proper treatment. It can also contribute to feelings of stigma and taboo that surrounds this disease. Let’s look into the facts first
Cancer Is Abnormal and Malignant Cell Growth
Cancer is caused by malignant, abnormal cell growth. According to cancer facts, these abnormal cells are capable of invading different parts of the body and continue to grow unless their growth is stopped by treatment. They can interfere with normal organ function.
There Are More Than 100 Different Cancers
Because cancer can occur almost anywhere in the body, there are over 100 different types. Common cancers include breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, melanoma and bladder cancer.
Almost One Fourth of Cancer Deaths Are Tobacco Related
Evidence suggests that 22% of cancers are caused by tobacco use. Cancer facts show that around 90% of all lung cancer is tobacco related. Other tobacco-related cancers include cancer of the oesophagus, pancreas, larynx and bladder. Tobacco smoke contains more than 50 carcinogens; these are substances that have been evidentially linked to various cancers.
Obesity and Poor Diet Are Big Cancer Factors
There are believed to be different causes of cancer. Up to 35% of cancer is thought to be due to poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity. Cancers caused by obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise are believed to be responsible for 14-20% of all cancer deaths.
Only 5-10% of Cancers Are Due to Genetics
Though genetics are often touted as a leading cause of cancer, only 5-10% of cancer occurrence is due to genetics. Cancer is more frequently caused by smoking, physical inactivity and obesity. Less than 0.3% of the population has a genetic inclination towards certain cancers.
Some Viruses Can Cause Cancer
Oncoviruses are viruses that can cause cancer. Combined with cancer-causing bacteria and parasites, they account for approximately 18% of all cancer deaths. Cancer facts indicate that human papillomavirus and hepatitis B are examples of oncoviruses.
Cancers Are Classified By the Cell Type the Tumours Come From
In order to be precise when describing a cancer, cancers are classified by where they originated in the body. There are five classifications: carcinoma, sarcoma, lymphoma and leukaemia, germ cell tumours and blastoma.
Carcinomas are the most common and start in the epithelial cells. Sarcomas originate in connective tissue. Lymphoma and leukaemia relate to blood cancers. Germ cell tumours come from pluripotent cells and blastomas come from embryonic tissues.
A Healthy Diet Is Part of Cancer Prevention
Because up to 35% of cancer can be attributed to poor diet and exercise choices, a healthy diet and exercise regime is a necessary part of cancer prevention. Smoking cessation programs are also a great way to reduce cancer risk.
Cancer Symptoms Can Easily Be Mistaken, Such as Weight Loss
At first, cancer has no symptoms. As the abnormal cancer mass grows, symptoms may appear. These symptoms are not very specific and can be attributed to many different conditions. Some symptoms, like weight loss or a cough may not be easily recognised as indicative of cancer.
Because of this, cancer symptoms can easily be mistaken for something else. Some symptoms, like lumps in breast tissue, clearly highlight a problem that needs to be checked by a doctor.
Cancer Treatments Attack the Problem Differently
Cancer facts tell us that there are several different treatment options for cancer. These include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, among others. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancerous mass.
Chemotherapy aims to kill cancer cells through the use of cytotoxic anti-neoplastic drugs. Radiation uses ionic radiation to kill cancer cells. Often, treatment plans include a mix of techniques in order to best eradicate the cancer or prolong life. There are also experimental treatments available.
Breast and Prostate Cancers Are the Most Common
The most common cancers are breast cancer and prostate cancer with over 230,000 new cases yearly. Lung cancer rounds out the top three with over 200,000 new cases yearly. Prostate cancer is a very survivable cancer, with a mortality rate of 0.8%. Breast cancer has a mortality rate of 10%. Lung cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, with a mortality rate of 83%.
Pancreatic Cancer is the Deadliest Cancer, 94% Will Die within Five Years
Of those individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, 94% will die within five years. Pancreatic cancer is the least survivable cancer. Cancer facts indicate that American actor Patrick Swayze and Apple tech icon Steve Jobs both died from pancreatic cancer.
Lung Cancer Kills Over 150,000 People Yearly
Approximately 80-90% of lung cancer cases are due to tobacco smoke. It is one of the most preventable cancers and it is also the cancer that kills the most people. Over 200,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer yearly and over 150,000 die from it. It is the most common form of cancer individuals die from.
February 4 Is World Cancer Day
The goal of World Cancer Day is to provide information. Every year on February 4, the Union for International Cancer Control encourages organisations to share information about prevention and early detection in order to help eradicate preventable cancers.
Cancer Ribbons Are Different Colours for Different Cancers
One of the most prominent cancer ribbons is the pink breast cancer ribbon. Other cancers utilise different colours to raise awareness. Brain cancer is represented by a grey ribbon, colon cancer by a dark blue, lung cancer by white, and prostate cancer by light blue.
Cancer Stages Indicate Size of Tumour
The TNM system is the most commonly used staging system for cancer. The different stages in the system relate to the size of the tumour and reach of the tumour. Stage 0 indicates abnormal cells but no visible cancer. Stages I, II, and III indicate the presence of the tumour and the amount it has spread to other organs. Stage IV indicates the tumour has spread to distant organs. Stage IV is the final stage.
Cancer Facts – Facts about Cancer Summary
Cancer is defined as the growth of abnormal, malignant cell growth. These growths are tumours that invade different organs and affect their functions. Common treatments include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.
The three most frequently diagnosed cancers are breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. Cancer stages inform patients about the severity of their cancer by describing the size of the tumour and how much it has spread. World Cancer Day is February 4 and aims to inform the public about prevention and early detection.
HERE ARE 7 CANCER MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS:
Myth #1: Cancer is always fatal
Modern medicine has made huge strides in cancer treatment. Cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was. It is estimated that 40% of people diagnosed with cancer are disease-free in 5 years. The 5-year survival rate is a very important benchmark to predict overall recovery from cancer. Early diagnosis and detection greatly improve the survival rate.
Myth #2: Cancer is contagious
Unlike most common diseases that are caused by viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, cancer is caused by changes in cellular DNA. These changes are often random. In most people, these mutated cells are destroyed by cell death mechanisms but if these mechanisms fail, then it develops into cancer. While cancer can spread within the body, it cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
Myth #3: Radiation therapy will kill you
Radiation therapy can be physically and mentally exhausting but it is a life-saving treatment. Radiation therapy has been optimized to deliver the maximum benefit and cause the least harm to the patients. Some side-effects are to be expected but these are not life-threatening. If you have any fears or doubts regarding radiation, you should talk to your doctor before refusing the treatment entirely. It could be a matter of life and death
Myth #4: I have no family history of cancer, so I won’t get cancer
Cancer is caused by changes in cell DNA. A family history of cancer does increase your chance of developing the disease. However, this does not mean that if you have no family history of cancer you won’t get the disease. Genetic mutations can be random, caused by environmental factors such as radiation exposure and pollution, and lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, excessive drinking, and poor dietary habits.
Myth #5: Cancer surgery for cancer will cause cancer to spread
A lot of people with cancer undergo surgery to remove the tumor or collect a tissue sample for biopsy. There is no evidence to support the statement that cancer surgery causes the disease to spread. Surgical tumor resection is an important and often life-saving treatment. Surgical removal of a primary or non-metastasized tumor (a tumor that has not spread from its site of origin) actually helps to prevent the spread of cancer to other regions of the body.
Myth #6: All lumps are cancerous
A majority of lumps that are detected during screenings and medical examinations are benign or another condition entirely such as a cyst. A doctor will conduct tests to determine if a growth is benign, precancerous, or cancerous.
Myth #7: Your attitude determines the outcome of cancer treatment
It is normal to be sad, angry, or to feel negative emotions when you or someone you know receives a diagnosis of cancer. While it helps to maintain a sense of optimism and hope, these feelings shouldn’t be forced upon patients. Let people will cancer react in their own ways. A ‘positive attitude’ doesn’t cure cancer just as a ‘negative attitude’ doesn’t cause cancer. Nevertheless, it helps to keep a positive outlook and hope for the best. Modern cancer treatments can be very effective and survival rates have drastically improved over the last few decades.
2 in 5 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes making this a fairly common condition. Cancer can be frightening but to make it less of a monster, let us work to banish myths that further complicate the cancer treatment process and spread stigma among the general public. Keep yourself updated with cancer facts and advancements in the treatment of cancer so that you know where we stand in the fight against cancer.