Pink Ribbon signifying Cancer Awareness.

 

Cancers are a range of diseases much dreaded by many because they pose health threats that may be severe and sometimes, life-threatening. However, one should ask, what is Cancer?, what types of Cancer exists? What are the symptoms? What are the risk factors? What treatment options are available? What key information should anyone have to stay protected? If you think you don’t need this information today, remember that someone else close to you does. So get it to them quickly.

What is a Cancer?

Cancer is the continuous, uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancer develops when the body’s normal control mechanism stops working. Old cells do not die and instead grow out of control, forming new, abnormal cells. These extra cells may form a mass of tissue, called a tumor. Some cancers, such as leukemia, do not form tumors.

What are the types of Cancers?

There are 5 categories of Cancers. These are

  1. Carcinomas: These are cancers that begin in the skin or in the tissues lining the internal organs of the body.
  2. Sarcomas: These forms of cancers develop in the muscles, bones, cartilages, fat, and other connective tissues.
  3. Lymphomas: These are cancers that begin in the immune system.
  4. CNS Cancers: These are cancers that develop in the Central Nervous System (Brain and Spinal Cord)
  5. Leukemia: This develops in the blood and bone marrow.

It’s worthy of note that some of the most common cancers are Breast Cancer, Cervical cancer, and Prostate Cancer. Most of these are Carcinomas and affect people of a specific gender. A wide range of cancers also exists with a wider risk population including both gender types.

Who is at risk?

Anyone with consistent exposure to chemicals or other substances that are carcinogenic is at risk of Cancer. As well, certain lifestyle behaviors and factors can increase your risk. These include the use of Tobacco, Tanning (excessive exposure to ultraviolet light), bleaching of the skin, Diet (red, processed meats), Excessive Alcohol consumption, Use of Hormonal drugs,  Unsafe sex (leading to viral infection), Inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis or obesity. Risk factors may also include things that people cannot control, like age and family history. A family history of certain cancers can be a sign of a possible inherited cancer syndrome.

What treatment options are available?

Treatment options depend on the type of cancer, its stage if cancer has spread, and your general health. The overall objective of treatment is to kill as many cancerous cells while reducing damage to the surrounding normal cells.

The three main treatments are:

Surgery: directly removing the tumor

Chemotherapy: using chemicals to kill cancer cells

Radiation therapy: using X-rays to kill cancer cells

On your consultancy with your doctor, they will advise on the appropriate treatment options after a proper examination of the situation.

Common Myths about Cancer

A variety of myths have been shared about Cancer for many years. In fact, some of them are inappropriately spread by people who themselves do not know what the facts are. Below are some of the common myths you’ll find out there. Whenever you come across them, know that they are false and non-factual.

  1. Cancer is contagious
  2. The use of deodorant can cause cancer
  3. The use of hair dye can cause cancer
  4. Cell phones can cause cancer
  5. Artificial sweeteners can cause cancer
  6. Eating sugar can make cancer worse.

Well, now you know that these myths are false and do not represent accurate information about cancer. Share the information to empower more people in your network.

A knowledgeable population can help reduce the rate of exposure and possible new cases of cancer. Let’s stay informed.

 

Sijuade Akinyemi-Eshilokun is a Microbiologist and Health Enthusiast. He is the Executive Director of the Health Volunteers Nigeria Initiative.

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