Cancer

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Overview

Cancer refers to an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of the cells of any tissue of the body. These abnormally growing cells have the ability to infiltrate other surrounding tissues and spread to other tissues that are not in the immediate surroundings, via blood and lymph.

Causes

The cause of all types of cancer is the same – mutation in the DNA of any cell. The mutation alters the genes of the DNA in such a way that the new formed gene allows the cell to replicate rapidly and uncontrollably.

Genetic mutations have multiple causes, some of which are:

  • Smoking
  • Radiation
  • Viruses
  • Cancer causing chemicals, called carcinogens
  • Obesity
  • Hormones
  • Chronic inflammation

Symptoms

Although cancer symptoms depend upon the region of the body that is involved, some of the general symptoms associated with most types of cancers are listed below:

  • Fatigue
  • Lump or area of thickening that can be felt under the skin
  • Weight changes, including unintended loss
  • Skin changes, such as yellowing, darkening or redness of the skin, sores that won’t heal, or changes to existing moles
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Persistent cough or trouble breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Persistent indigestion or discomfort after eating
  • Persistent, unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Persistent, unexplained fevers or night sweats
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

Diagnosis

The following tests are useful in the diagnosis of cancer:

  • Tissue biopsy
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • PET scan
  • X ray
  • Ultrasound

Treatment

  • Surgical removal of cancerous tissue
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
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