FACTS & SYMPTOMS
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Each cell in the body contains DNA in its nucleus which controls its life cycle. For many reasons, this control mechanism stops working. Old cells do not die and instead grow out of control, forming new, abnormal cells, or a tumour.
Early symptoms of cancer: Usually, early cancer does not cause pain. The signs or symptoms will depend on where the cancer is, how big it is, and how much it affects the organs or tissues. But sometimes cancer starts in places where it won’t cause symptoms until it has grown quite large. Given below are certain general signs and symptoms to watch out for. There may be other causes for each of these, but it’s important to see a doctor about them as soon as possible – especially if there’s no other cause you can identify, the problem lasts a long time, or it gets worse over time. Do not wait to feel pain.
- White patches inside the mouth or white spots on the tongue.
- Recent change or bleeding in a wart or mole or sores that do not heal.
- Nagging cough or hoarseness.
- Excessive weakness or fatigue.
- Unexplained weight loss or changes in appetite.
- Indigestion or trouble swallowing.
- Persistent back pain.
- Unexplained night sweats.
- Difficult or painful urination.
- Unusual bleeding or discharge.
- Thickening or lump in the breast or other parts of the body.
- Testicular lumps.
- Rectal bleeding.
- Unexplained fevers.
Causes of cancer: Though it is very difficult to pinpoint any definite cause, certain substances, known as carcinogens, can definitely increase your chances of getting cancer.
- Some cancers are caused by faulty lifestyles. For example, tobacco use can cause cancers of the head and neck region; early menarche and late menopause can cause breast cancer or early marriage, multiple pregnancies, history of sexually transmitted disease and multiple sexual partners can cause cervical cancer.
- Overexposure to sun without protection can cause skin cancer.
- Exposure to radiation or nuclear fallout can cause cancer. Sometimes, radiation treatment for one type of cancer can cause another cancer to grow many years later. Certain chemicals have been linked to cancer, too. Being exposed to or working with them can increase a person’s risk of cancer.
- About 5 – 10 % of all cancers are linked to genes or mutations that are inherited from parents.
Some cancers are caused by viruses- Human papilloma viruses (HPVs)-cervical cancer; Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)- Burkitt lymphoma; Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV)- liver cancer; Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-Kaposi sarcoma.