Health

How does cancer start and what are common symptoms?

Cancer is an umbrella term that comprises of several groups of diseases which develop when abnormal cells divide at an exceptional rate and spread across the entire human system. Today, cancer is recognized as one of the most common and leading causes of deaths amid individuals all over the world.

Growth of Cancer and Metastasis

A human body comprises of trillions of cells which continuously grow, divide and die while performing all the basic day-to-day functions. Every cell has a specific life cycle. When a cell dies, it is replaced by a new one. However, in case of cancer, the process gets disrupted and leads to abnormal growth of the cells in the body. In cancer, changes or mutations take place in the DNA of the cell, making it perform destructive functions than constructive ones.

DNA is one of the main components of a cell, which typically defines it function, how it much grow and even divide. Mutation occur frequently in the DNA. But, usually cells are able to correct these mistakes. When a cell fails to correct such a mistake, its risk of becoming cancerous in nature increase manifold.

Scientists and oncologists state that mutation prevents the cells from following their natural course of reproduction, i.e. grow, divide and die. Here, although new cells are created at an uncontrollable level, the old ones do not die. These extra cells form a tumor, which can further cause a number of health problems.

Many scientific studies also state that not all tumors are cancerous in nature. Benign tumors are usually classified as non-cancerous ones and do not spread or cause damage to other parts of the body. They can sometimes grow large and even cause problem if they press against surrounding tissues and organs.  Malignant tumors, on the other hand, are cancerous and can affect other parts of the body.

Types of Cancer

Cancers are typically names as per the area in which they originate along with the type of cells they’re made of. For instance, cancer originating in the liver and spreads to other parts of the body, is still known as liver cancer. Apart from this, several other clinical terms are used for defining many other general types of cancer.

  • Carcinoma – a type of cancer that begins in the skin or tissues which line other organs.
  • Sarcoma – a cancer of connective tissues like muscles, blood vessels, bones, and cartilage.
  • Leukemia – a cancer that originates in the bone marrow.
  • Lymphoma and myeloma – two other types of cancers which typically originate in the immune system of the body.

Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

Although different types of cancers showcase different types of signs and symptoms, some of them are common to all.

Weight loss – Unexpected loss of weight, usually of 10 pounds and above, makes for one of the first signs of cancer. Generally, weight loss is common amid people who have stomach, esophageal, pancreatic and lung cancer.

Fever – Fever is the second most common symptom of cancer. It frequently crops up when cancer metastasizes and is often accompanied with night sweats. Almost everyone with cancer experiences fever at some point.

Fatigue – Feeling extremely tired for days without doing any strenuous activities is also a sign and symptom of cancer.

A lump – The presence of a lump or thickening of the skin is usually sighted as an early or late sign of cancer. Individuals with cancers in lymph nodes, testicles, breast, and soft tissues typically have lumps.

Skin changes – A change in the color of skin, usually turning yellowish, dark, or red, signal the presence of cancer in the body. Additionally, sores which do not heal; moles, freckles, or warts that change in shape, size and color, also pose as a strong sign of skin cancer.

Pain – Generally, pain becomes common when cancer spreads in the entire body. At the same time, pain is considered as an early symptom of bone or testicular cancer. Pain in the back is common amid individuals with rectal, pancreatic, colon, and ovarian cancer. People with brain tumors often experience headache that persists for long.

Bowel or bladder function – A change in one’s bowel movement such as severe constipation, diarrhea, and other similar bowel issues are considered as a sign of colon cancer. Individuals with bladder and prostate cancer usually report experiencing pain during urination, presence of blood in their urine, or other unusual bladder-function changes.

Cough or hoarseness – A cough that persists for weeks or a hoarse voice which causes pain the neck are also stated as prominent signs of thyroid cancer, lung cancer, and cancer of the larynx.

Indigestion – Indigestion is also considered as a sign of stomach, throat and esophageal cancer.

Changes in your mouth – The presence of white patches inside mouth or on the tongue could be pre-cancers, which may turn into oral cancer. Sores, numbness and bleeding in the mouth also make for prominent signs of certain cancer types.

Swollen lymph nodes – Enlarged lymph nodes can signal the presence of cancer in the body. Individuals must get themselves checked in case their gland remains swollen for more than three.

Being out of breath – Constantly feeling out of breath is another sign cancer.

Studies and surveys state that most of the times, these symptoms do not develop as a result of presence of cancerous cells in the body. A benign tumor or other existing problems may be the culprit. But, individuals must not ignore these sign and symptoms, especially if they persist, are severe in nature, and do not go away.

Why Noticing Cancer Symptoms Is Important

Identifying the signs and symptoms of cancer can typically help individuals and their physician in detecting cancers at an early stage. This also is important become the sooner a cancer is detected, the better can be its prognosis. Additionally, the chances of survival also increase manifold.

Canner is one of the most common yet a life-engulfing disease. Staying healthy, eating the right kind of food and maintaining a good lifestyle is utmost essential.