According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is a process of uncontrolled growth and spread of cells that can appear almost anywhere in the body. The tumour usually invades the surrounding tissue and can metastasize to distant points in the body.
Cancer is one of the main causes of death worldwide and with the passage of time an increase in its cases is predicted. But although the risk of developing cancer has increased, according to the Society of Medical Oncology, the risk of cancer mortality in our country has been decreasing considerably in the last two decades. According to their data, around 50% of patients diagnosed with cancer in Spain live for more than 5 years.
Therefore we have prepared this article with the aim of providing information about the disease and sharing some recommendations for its prevention. Many types of cancer could be prevented by avoiding exposure to common risk factors such as tobacco smoke. Regarding the hope of a cure, a significant percentage of cancers can be cured by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, especially if they are detected at an early stage.
Table of Contents
What Is Cancer?
We call cancer a group of related diseases whose main characteristic is that some cells in the body begin to divide and proliferate without stopping and without control. It can appear in almost any part of the body and can metastasize to different points of the body if it is not diagnosed early and properly treated.
Cancer is a genetic disease, so it is caused by changes in the genes that control the way our cells work, especially in terms of growth and division. Therefore, a significant percentage of cancers are hereditary. Others are due to environmental exposures that can damage our DNA, such as the consumption of certain substances.
Still, others are the result of errors that occur when cells divide. If anything, each person’s cancer has a unique combination of genetic changes. Later in this article, we expand on these causes.
Some cancers can form tumours. This typically occurs in cancers of blood origin. This does not mean that all tumours are malignant or cancerous. There are tumours that grow at a slow rate, that does not spread or infiltrate neighbouring tissues, these tumours are considered benign.
Types Of Cancer
There are several types of cancer, depending mainly on the area of the body where it originates or the type of cell. It should be noted that the behaviour, prognosis and treatment of various types of cancer, even within the different evolutionary stages of the same tumour, are highly variable.
Cancer Symptoms And Diagnosis
The manifestations and symptoms derived from a tumour can be very varied, from a fast-growing lump, going through a cough or digestive bleeding. Also, it is important to remember that the vast majority of these symptoms are common in other milder diseases in general. Therefore, depending on the symptoms, a certain type of test will be carried out to make the diagnosis.
Below we talk about the different types of cancer and their symptoms.
- Colon cancer: This cancer occurs because the mucosa of the colon contained in an existing polyp evolves into a malignant tumour. These malignant cells are normally located in the intermediate and longest portion of the large intestine. This type of cancer is one of the most common and one of the easiest to diagnose. Furthermore, cure rates are high if detected early. You can learn more about this disease in our article about the symptoms of colon cancer.
- Ovarian cancer: Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries, responsible for producing eggs and releasing hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. This cancer usually progresses undetected (in an early stage it does not usually give symptoms) until it spreads through the pelvis and abdomen and becomes complicated. Symptoms are: bloating or inflammation of the abdomen, rapid feeling of fullness when eating, weight loss, discomfort in the pelvis, changes in bowel habits, and frequent urination.
- Melanoma: begins in cells that become melanocytes, cells specialized in producing melanin (a pigment that gives skin its colour). Most melanomas form on the skin, but they can also occur on other pigmented tissues such as the eyes.
- Prostate cancer: This cancer is common in older men. It starts in the prostate, the sexual organ in charge of semen production. The main symptoms are urination problems such as pain, difficulty starting or stopping the flow of urine or dripping; pain in the lower back and pain when ejaculating.
- Lymphoma: Lymphoma is cancer that begins in lymphocytes, which are disease-fighting white blood cells that are part of the immune system. The abnormal lymphocytes then accumulate in the lymph nodes and vessels, as well as in other organs.
- Leukaemia: This cancer begins in the cells of the tissues that make up the blood in the bone marrow. In this case, solid tumours do not form, but a large number of abnormal white blood cells that accumulate in the blood and bone marrow and crowd out normal blood cells. The consequence is that there is a low concentration of normal blood cells, something that causes the supply of oxygen to body tissues to decrease, bleeding is not controlled and infections are not adequately controlled.
- Breast Cancer: Breast cancer is the malignant tumour that originates from the mammary gland. We talk about breast cancer when the tumour cells that come from the glandular tissue of the breast invade other healthy tissues around and reach other organs. This cancer affects one in eight women during her life. Know what are the symptoms of breast cancer.
- Lung Cancer: This cancer is one of the most common in the world. The main cause is usually tobacco, but also exposure to pollution and radiation. The most common symptoms are a cough that does not go away and gets worse over time, constant chest pain, cough with expectoration of blood, shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness, repeated pneumonia and bronchitis, inflammation of the neck and face, fatigue and loss of appetite and weight. Expand information through our article ” How to prevent lung cancer “.
Also Read: How Does Cold Affect Our Health?
Where Does Cancer Come From?
As we have already seen, there are many different types of cancer. It can appear in almost any organ or tissue, such as the lung, colon, breasts, skin, bones, or in nervous tissue.
In addition to the genetic component that we already discussed at the beginning of the article, as external agents we can mention other causes:
- Benzene and other chemicals
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Environmental toxins, such as certain poisonous fungi and a type of toxin that can form in peanut plants (aflatoxins)
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
- Genetic problems
However, answering this question about where does cancer come from? not always possible. The cause of many cancers remains unknown.
What Is The Most Aggressive Cancer?
You have to be very cautious when answering the question about which cancer is the most aggressive. As we have seen, all cancers are dangerous and their evolution depends on each case and person. Although research has succeeded in overcoming and eliminating damaged cells in some types of cancer more easily than in others, resistance to treatments and the possibility of metastasis makes the fight against this disease difficult on many other occasions.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the types of cancer that lead to higher mortality are lung, liver, stomach, colon and breast cancer. But it is important to understand this consideration when attending to the number of cases.
The same happens with the prostate in the case of men. Its high frequency in both cases makes the mortality rate high.
How To Prevent Cancer
The International Agency for Research against Cancer (IARC) is the delegation of the World Health Organization (WHO) specialized in this disease. This is in charge of launching the European Code against Cancer that contains twelve tips on how to prevent cancer and adopt healthy lifestyle habits to stop its appearance.
European scientists and specialists in the fight against cancer have participated in this code, highlighting the importance of avoiding tobacco, alcohol and excessive exposure to the sun. Take good note of all of them:
- Do not smoke.
- Keep your home and work smoke-free.
- Control your weight.
- Lead a physically active life and limit sitting time. Exercise is a protective factor for some cancers such as colon cancer. We recommend some exercises to do at home and keep fit .
- Adopt a healthy diet rich in cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Those who consume more fruit and vegetables have a much lower death rate, and such a diet has been found to protect against many types of cancer and other conditions. Cut down on foods high in calories, sugar and fat. Limit the consumption of red meat and foods rich in salt, and avoid processed meats.
- Reduce alcohol consumption. What’s more, the WHO recommends refraining from drinking any type of alcoholic beverage.
- Avoid or reduce sun exposure. This is very important and especially in the first years of life. Sun protection is especially important in children: hats. You should not expose yourself to the sun in the hours of maximum solar intensity and the use of sunscreen cream is very important.
- Protect yourself against carcinogenic substances at work: find out at your workplace or with your company’s occupational risk prevention service about the risks and measures they take before them.
- Control the level of radon radiation in your home.
- For women: It is important to mention that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of developing some types of cancer.
- Vaccinate your children against hepatitis B and against the human papillomavirus in the case of girls.
- Get screened for colon cancer in men and women, breast cancer and cervical cancer in women, and prostate cancer in men.
Especially to fulfil the last two points, we recommend having medical coverage for you and yours. So you can enjoy the peace of mind that good health insurance gives you, in which all the prevention and care needs of your health are covered, as well as those of those you love most.
Nowadays, results of multiple drugs targeting the immune system continue to be presented, with the aim of increasing their effectiveness in the fight against cancer. Drugs like nivolumab, pembrolizumab or MPDL3280A, etc. have shown efficacy in tumours such as melanoma, bladder or kidney cancer.
The works on urological tumours (kidney and bladder) are more preliminary and do not change the current standard of treatment, but in the case of melanoma they are already a reality and the combinations of nivolumab and ipilimumab are used in the treatment of advanced melanoma.
Lastly, it should be noted that multiple works focused on the search for biomarkers (a substance used as an indicator of a biological state, pathogenic state or response to treatment) and specific molecular alterations that allow the selection of patients and treatment continue to be reported. more individualized.