In the simplest of terms, cancer is the abnormal growth of cells somewhere in the body. Cells, which make up human tissue, form our organs. Cancer is the abnormal growth located somewhere among these cells. Each year, more than a million people are diagnosed with cancer. In the United States, cancer afflicts half of all men and one out of three women in the course of their lifetime. It's estimated that over 11 million people in the United States have some form of cancer.There are over 200 different types of cancer, although many are quite rare.The most common types of cancer include non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. Although some cancers can't be prevented, there are other types can be avoided by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Although symptoms vary among the different types of cancer symptoms, common symptoms can include pain, unexplained weight loss and fatigue.
Cancer Risk Factors
Risk factors that can lead to cancer include smoking, obesity, too much sun exposure and excessive alcohol consumption. It's estimated that 50 percent of cancer fatalities could have been avoided by some simple lifestyle choices. These lifestyle choices include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise.
Some sexual behaviours have also been linked to the development of cancer including human papillomavirus, HIV and hepatitis B.
Common Types of Cancer
Cancers are often named for the organ experiencing the abnormal growth of cells, for example breast cancer. These are the four most commonly diagnosed cancers.
Non-melanoma skin cancer
This type of cancer affects more than 1 million people a year. Skin cancer can form in the skin cells on any part of the body, though is most commonly found on skin that’s been most exposed to the sun. There are several different types of skin cancer, including squamous cell skin cancer which is located in the flat cells on the top of the skin, and basal cell skin cancer,which is located in the round cells deeper inside skin's outer layer. Skin cancer most commonly affects the elderly or people who already have a compromised immune system.
Lung cancer afflicts the cells inside the lining of the lungs. There are two primary types of lung cancer — small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. Lung cancer can be deadly as it claims nearly 160,000 lives annually.
Breast Cancer is by far the most common cancer in women. While the overwhelming majority of breast cancer patients are women, about 1,900 cases are diagnosed in men each year.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect men, usually afflicting men over age 50. The prostate gland is a major part of the reproductive system in men and is found at the base of the bladder, near the rectum. Prostate cancer develops in the tissues inside the prostate gland.
Surgery can be used to remove the cancer if the cells are localized. Cancer surgery is an operation to repair or remove part of your body to diagnose or treat cancer. This remains at the forefront of cancer treatments when possible. Cancer surgery may be your only treatment, or it can be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as radiation, chemotherapy, biological and hormone therapy.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells by destroying their DNA. Radiation therapy can damage normal cells in the process of killing cancer cells, so the treatment must be very carefully planned out. Radiation for cancer treatment can come from a machine outside of the body or radioactive material that is placed in the body either near the tumors or injected through the bloodstream. Radiation can be used alone, or in addition to other treatments.
Chemotherapy is the general term for any treatment that involves the use of chemical agents to stop cancer cells from growing. Chemotherapy can eliminate cancer cells at sites that are located far away from the original cancer. Chemotherapy is designed to kill cancer cells. There are a variety of ways that chemotherapy can be administered including through a vein, injected into a body cavity, or delivered orally. Chemotherapy works by destroying cancer cells but it cannot tell the difference between a cancer cell and a healthy cell. Therefore chemotherapy eliminates not only the fast-growing cancer cells, but also fast-growing healthy cells including hair and blood cells. More than half of all people that are diagnosed with cancer will receive chemotherapy. For many, chemotherapy is very effective and allows them to enjoy full productive lives. For many chemotherapy is very effective and allows them to enjoy full productive lives.
Researchers and doctors are working to find new and more effective cancer treatment options. Cancer treatment is moving away from the method of simply killing cancer cells and towards more targeted therapies for cancer patients. These more targeted therapies hope to create a chemotherapy that will not interfere and disrupt the underlying mechanisms which make a cell cancerous.