Common Types of Cancer
Cancer is a complex group of over 100 different types of cancer. Cancer can affect just about every organ in the human body.
How Does Cancer Develop?
The organs in our body are made up of cells. Cells divide and multiply as the body needs them. When these cells continue multiplying when the body doesn't need them, the result is a mass or growth, also called a tumor.
These growths are considered either benign or malignant. Benign is considered non-cancerous, and malignant is cancerous.
Benign tumors rarely are life-threatening and do not spread to other parts of the body. They can often be removed.
How Does Cancer Spread to Other Parts of the Body?
The cells within malignant tumors have the ability to invade neighboring tissues and organs, thus spreading the disease. It is also possible for cancerous cells to break free from the tumor and enter the bloodstream, and spread the disease to other organs. This process of spreading is called metastasis.
When cancer has metastasized and has affected other areas of the body, the disease is still referred to the organ of origination. For instance, if cervical cancer spreads to the lungs, it is still called cervical cancer, not lung cancer.
Although most cancers develop this way, diseases like leukemia do not. They affect the blood and the organs that form blood and then invade nearby tissues. All cancers are different and require different treatment. What may be effective for prostate cancer probably will not be for bladder cancer. Diagnosing cancer will vary as well, depending on the organ affected.
Causes and Risk Factors for Cancer
- Tobacco According to the National Cancer Institute, smoking causes 30% of all kidney, pancreatic, cervical, and stomach cancers and acute myeloid leukemia. Quitting smoking immediately decreases your risk factor for cancer.
- Physical Activity Exercising at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week greatly reduces your cancer risk. Exercise like yoga, aerobics, walking, and running are great activities to lower your cancer risk factor. Not only is physical activity important to preventing other diseases, it reduces the chances of becoming obese. Obesity is a major cause for many cancers. Exercising on a regular basis can prevent prostate, colon, breast, endometrial, and lung cancer.
- Genetics Genetics can play a big role in cancer, such as breast cancer, taking extra precautions is vital. When cancer is genetic, a mutated gene has been passed down. Genetic tests are available for many hereditary cancers. Keep in mind that if you have a family history of cancer, it does not mean you will develop it. You only have a greater chance of developing it.
- Environmental Factors The environment you are in can cause cancer. Exposure to asbestos, a group of minerals found in housing and industrial building materials, can cause a variety of medical problems, such as mesothelioma. Studies have shown that people who are exposed to high amounts of benzene are at risk for cancer. Benzene is a chemical found in gasoline, smoking, and pollution.
- Unsafe Sex Practicing unsafe sex can increase your risk of developing a virus called HPV. HPV is a group of over 100 viruses, medically known as human papillomavirus. HPV increases your risk factor for cervical, anal, vulvar, and vaginal cancer. There is a test available to see if you have contracted HPV. It involves scraping of cervical cells, and then the sample is sent to a lab. The lab test can even identify the strain of the virus, also.
- Sun Exposure Skin cancer is caused by exposure to the UV rays of the sun. A sunburn, or a tan is actually the result of cell damage caused by the sun. Skin cancer can be prevented in most cases. Wearing sunscreen when outdoors and staying out of the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest is your best defense.