Cancer is defined as the abnormal growth of cells in one’s body. Cancer is a disease in which the abnormal cells divide in an uncontrollable manner and are able to invade the body’s tissues.

Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through blood and lymph systems. There are more than hundred different kinds of cancer. Most cancers are named after the organ in which they start.

Causes of cancer

All cancers begin in the cells; the basic unit of the body. In our body the cells grow and divide in a controlled way as they are needed to keep the body healthy. Old cells are replaced by new ones.

However at times this process goes wrong and the genetic material - DNA of a cell gets damaged or changed causing mutations. These further affect cell division and normal cell growth. Cancer occurs when the growth of cells in the body is out of control and cells divide too quickly. Cancer can even occur when cells fail to die.

Several factors cause this kind of abnormality. These are:

  • Obesity
  • Radiation
  • Viruses
  • Excessive drinking of alcohol
  • Benzene and other chemicals

Symptoms of cancer

Symptoms of cancer depend upon its type and location.

  • Lung cancer can cause cough, chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • Colon cancer causes constipation, diarrhoea and blood in the stool.
  • In certain cases such as pancreatic cancer the symptoms do not show unless the disease has reached an advanced stage.

The following symptoms are common to most of the cancers:

  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Blood where there should not be any

Risk factors of cancer

  • Tobacco: Smoking affects the lungs and can cause kidney, pancreatic, cervical and stomach cancers. In addition it may lead to acute myeloid leukaemia.
  • Genetic factors: People with a family history of cancer, especially those like breast cancer; are at a greater risk of developing this disease. Periodic tests are suggested.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to asbestos which is present in certain building and industrial material can cause mesothelioma. People who are exposed to high amount of Benzene found in gasoline, smoking and pollution are also at high risk of developing cancer.
  • Unsafe sex: Practising unsafe sex can increase your risk of developing HPV infection, which in turn ups your risk for cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer.
  • Sun exposure: Skin cancer is caused by exposure to the UV Rays of the sun. A sunburn or tan is a result of cell damage caused by the sun. Wearing a sunscreen and avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is your best defence.
  • Improper diet: Insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables and deficiency of certain nutrients can cause cancer.
  • Obesity: Obesity is a major cause for many cancers, like - prostate, colon, breast and lung cancer. Exercising on a regular basis can reduce your risk.

Many cancer risk factors can be avoided; thus, reducing the likelihood of developing cancer.

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