What is Cancer?
Cancer encompasses a wide array of diseases that share a common characteristic. This includes the transformation of healthy cells into malignant cells.
According to an ICMR report, the number of Indians suffering from cancer will reach 29.8 million. But cancer is causing fewer fatalities today than it did two decades ago. Innovative remedies and early detection are curing cancer. At the same time, medical researchers are finding out things that can limit cancer recurrence as well.
How does cancer start in your body?
When one or more genes mutate and produce malignant cells, cancer develops. These cells generate clusters of cancer or tumors. Cancerous cells may escape tumors and spread to other parts via the lymphatic system or circulation. (Medical professionals refer to this as a metastasis.
An instance of this would be if a breast tumor metastasized to the lungs, resulting in respiratory distress. Abnormal cells in the bone marrow produce abnormal blood cells. This characterizes a subset of blood cancers with uncontrolled multiplication.
Over time, the aberrant cells displace the healthy blood cells.
What causes cancer?
Cancer is an inherited condition. It occurs when genes that regulate cell activity mutate. It results in the division and multiplication of aberrant cells, disrupting bodily functions.
Medical researchers report that inherited genetic mutations cause 5% to 12% of all malignancies. Cancer is increasingly attributed to acquired genetic mutations.
Acquired genetic mutations occur throughout an individual’s lifetime. Medical
researchers have identified multiple risk factors for the likelihood of developing cancer.
How to detect cancer early?
Early cancer detection significantly improves the prognosis for effective treatment. Early detection of cancer consists of two essential elements. Screening and early diagnosis, also known as downstaging. Early diagnosis is concerned with the prompt detection of symptomatic patients. Screening checks healthy people for cancer before they show any signs of being sick.
A. Early diagnosis
The primary goal of early diagnosis programs is to decrease the percentage of patients who receive a delayed diagnosis. They consist of two primary elements:
- Enhanced public and medical provider awareness regarding the initial indications of cancer.
- Improved accessibility and affordability of diagnosis and treatment services. Early detection is crucial for cancers affecting the epidermis, breast, cervix, mouth, larynx, colon, and rectum.
Screening is the process of identifying people who are at risk of the disease but have not yet experienced symptoms. This is done through some tests, including:
- Mammography or clinical breast exams to detect breast cancer
- Pap smears
- Human papillomavirus tests
- Visual inspection with the help of acetic acid to detect cervical cancer.
Screening programs should be implemented in the following cases:
- When the efficacy is established
- When there are adequate resources available to test a large group,
- When facilities are available to confirm diagnoses, provide treatment, and follow-up for individuals.
- When the disease prevalence is enough to warrant the effort and expenses associated with screening.
Despite proper implementation, screening programs are prone to undesirable consequences. These include:
- Instances of false-positive screening results inducing patient anxiety and invasive diagnostic procedures
- False negative screening results result in false reassurance.
- Excessive diagnosis or treatment of preclinical cancers that may not have induced symptoms.
To assess the risks, the World Health Organization advises against mammography screening for women under 50.
Based on the evidence, mass screening is only recommended for colon, cervical, and breast cancer.
How to prevent cancer recurrence?
There is no method to ensure that cancer will never return after treatment has been completed. Nonetheless, there are a few factors to bear in mind to avoid cancer recurrence:
As a general rule, an adult ought to consume the following:
- A variety of vegetables, including fiber-rich legumes, and dark green, red, and orange varieties, daily.
- Consume nutrient-dense foods in appropriate quantities to meet and maintain a healthy body weight.
- It is recommended to consume fruits, particularly whole fruits that exhibit diverse colors.
- Red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs, sausage, and luncheon) should be restricted or avoided.
- Choose products formulated with whole grains instead of refined grains and added carbohydrates.
- One should refrain from consuming sugary beverages.
- If you are overweight, you should strive to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. (Consult your cancer care team before beginning an exercise regimen.)
- Maintaining a healthy weight may reduce the likelihood of recurrent cancer.
- A variety of cancer types are associated with alcohol consumption. It is preferable not to consume alcohol, but if you must, women should not exceed one drink per day, and males should not exceed two. An increase in alcohol consumption is associated with an elevated risk of developing cancer.
b. Physical activity
Consult with your cancer care team regarding a healthy exercise regimen. You should keep in mind the following:
- Engage in consistent physical activity.
- Restrain prolonged periods of reclining or lying down, and resume regular daily activities.
- Aim to engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 to 300 minutes or “very active” activity for 75 to 150 minutes per week.
- Performing strength training exercises at least two days a week.
- Even minimal physical activity is preferable to none. Perform an activity that you appreciate.
- Establishing a gradual progression is advantageous.
- When determining the appropriate activity level, one must consider one’s physical capabilities.
How to detect cancer early? This question may have struck most of us at some point in our life. Cancer may be among the most traumatic diagnoses a person ever receives. You may feel terrified and overwhelmed upon receiving the news that you have cancer. Numerous individuals feel as though they have lost control of their circumstances. Your healthcare providers are fully conscious of these emotions.
Early detection can help with diagnosis. The right routine can also aid in minimizing cancer recurrence