Cancer Resources: From Mesothelioma to Leukemia
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death by disease worldwide. It can affect women and men, young and old. There are many different types of cancer, with each bearing their own unique characteristics. Some cancers can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle, while others are simply genetic and are passed down through the generations. It is important to understand the various causes and risks of different forms of cancer so you can be aware of hazards and makes lifestyle decisions where appropriate.
Cervical cancer is the cancer of the cervix and affects only women. Often there are no symptoms, so early detection is crucial. This form of cancer is caused by a virus called HPV, or the human papillomavirus. Fortunately there are new vaccines now available to help prevent the spread of the virus, protecting young women from this type of cancer. Pap smear tests can help detect cervical cancer early and are recommended for women over the age 18.
Colon cancer is more common amongst middle-aged to older adult males and females, but can affect some demographics of younger people as well. Regular colonoscopies for those over the age of 45 can help to detect this form of cancer in its early stages, at which time it is generally curable. There is no single known cause for this type of cancer, but it is often linked to abnormal genetics.
This form of cancer is occurs in the esophagus, which is the primary stage digestive tract. However, the malignancy can spread to the lymph nodes and other vital organs rather quickly. Smoking is the leading cause of esophageal cancer, as well as exposure to various dangerous chemicals. Some doctors have also linked progressive acid reflux disease to esophageal cancer. Each year, about 12-18,000 cases of this form of cancer are discovered. Quitting smoking before the age of 30-35 can greatly reduce one's risk of esophageal cancer.
Leukemia is a subset of cancers affecting the blood cells and bone marrow, and can often be found in children. Adult varieties of leukemia are, in fact, less common and are typically found in those over the age of 60. Leukemia can be managed through chemotherapy, but prognosis is generally unfavorable for long-term survival. While leukemia can manifest in nearly any individual, even those without disposition to the disease, tobacco smoke and toxic exposure to chemicals like benzene are other factors known to be associated with leukemia.
Lung cancer is the most deadly and common form of cancer among adults. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, although some people who have never smoked may also get it due to various reasons, particularly genetic disposition. It is a very aggressive variety of cancer, and is known to spread quickly. The symptoms of lung cancer can be quite mild and without proper testing it can go undetected until it is in its later stages. Quitting smoking as soon as possible may help prevent lung cancer from occurring in those who smoke.
A form of cancer called lymphoma attacks the lymph nodes and the body's immune system. It is commonly treated through chemotherapy. The disease can spread to the bones, blood, and other organs of the body. Some common symptoms of lymphoma include rapid weight loss, chills, fever, night sweats, and an itching feeling. Aside from chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants and stem cell treatments are available to help keep the cancer from spreading. There is a cure rate of about 30-60 percent of most patients.
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin disease known today. It involves the melanocytes, which are cells found in skin pigments. There are approximately 150-160,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed worldwide annually. This form of cancer is easily spotted by dermatologists who specialize in skin care. A dark or raised spot on the skin that grows rapidly is a telltale sign of melanoma. If diagnosed early, surgery to remove the cancerous cells is often successful. Exposure to harmful UV rays such as the sun and tanning beds are the leading causes of melanoma.
Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of thoracic cancer that is known only to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos, a hazardous material once used in building insulation, tiles, and flooring, can be deadly if inhaled. The tiny asbestos fibers lodge in to the lining of the lung's outer tissue, causing malignant plaques to form. Even a small amount of exposure to asbestos can be potentially hazardous. Smoking is known to increase risk of mesothelioma, but asbestos exposure is more commonly attributed as a primary cause.
Oral cancer can involve the mouth, throat, tongue, or tonsils. A common cause for this form of cancer is smoking, but exposure to the HPV-16 virus is another culprit. About 100 new diagnosis of mouth or oral cancer are made each day in the United States, making it a much more common variety of the disease than many people may think. There are many symptoms including ear pain, dry mouth, sores on the face or neck, and others. Research is currently being conducted to look for new cures and forms of treatment for oral cancer.
Ovarian cancer originates in a woman's ovaries. In many cases, ovarian cysts are detectable, although they may not necessarily be cancerous. Pap smear tests should be performed on women regularly to determine if there are any growths or signs of potentially cancerous cells. Surgery is a common form of treatment for ovarian cancer, and it does have a fairly high cure rate if discovered early. If untreated, it can metastasize to the liver, stomach, or other internal organs.
Pancreatic cancer refers to malignant tumors found in the pancreas. Since there are very mild or even no symptoms of pancreatic cancer, it is often undiagnosed until it has reached the later stages. More awareness about this aggressive form of cancer is being emphasized, so that people know what to look for and can therefore seek earlier treatment. Often, heavy drinkers of alcohol are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. About 30,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Prostate cancer affects approximately one in every 6 men. As men age, they are more likely to become a victim of prostate cancer. Generally males 40 years of age and older are more at risk for prostate cancer. A regular prostate exam should be performed so that doctors can be sure the patient does not have a growth that could be cancerous. Race, as well as family genetics, can play a role in terms of risk factors, but all men should have routine exams in order to detect the cancer early. If diagnosed in the early stages, patients have a very high survival rate.
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, because nearly everyone is potentially at risk. Excessive exposure to the sun and harmful ultraviolet rays can cause malignant cells to develop on the skin. Skin cancer is most commonly found on the face, but has also been found on the arms, legs, neck, and other parts of the body. Those noticing any unusual markings or splotches on the skin that appear to propagate in size, are advised to contact a doctor as soon as possible. Often, skin cancer can be surgically removed, but is occasionally serious, and even fatal.
Stomach cancer starts in the stomach and can be quite painful, spreading to other internal organs rather rapidly. Common signs of potential stomach cancer include dark or bloody stools, severe abdominal pain, and difficulty swallowing. People who have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease or colitis are at a higher risk for stomach cancer. A healthy diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants can help to prevent stomach cancer, as well as regular exercise and avoiding smoking. Men tend to be at a high risk for stomach cancer, although an exact reason is not known.