What Is Cancer?
Cancer is essentially when there is an abnormal growth of cells in any part of the body. Typically, the body forms new cells to replace the ones that die. When new cells start growing even if you don’t really need them and the old cells don’t die, the extra cells may form a mass known as a tumour (leukaemia is an exception, as in this case cancer prohibits the normal functioning due to the abnormal division of cells in the bloodstream.
These tumours are classified as benign or malignant. Benign tumours are those that remain in one spot and do not grow. These tumours are not cancerous, whereas malignant ones are cancerous. The cells from malignant tumours spread via the lymphatic or blood systems and attack the neighbouring healthy tissues. These cancerous cells may also break away and spread to other parts of the body.
There are over 100 kinds of cancers and cancer can affect any part of the body. Most of the cancers are named after the part of the body where they originate. For instance, if it starts from the lung, it is known as lung cancer, etc. and when cancer spreads from one part of the body to another, it is known as metastasis.
There are broadly 5 groups of cancers:
- Carcinomas: They occur in cells that cover the external and internal parts of the body such as colon, breast and lung cancer.
- Sarcomas: These are caused in the cells located in the cartilage, bone, connective tissue, muscle, fat and other supportive tissues.
- Lymphomas: These cancers usually begin in the immune system tissues and lymph nodes.
- Adenomas: These are cancers that originate in the pituitary gland, thyroid, adrenal gland and other glandular tissues.
- Leukaemia: These cancers begin in the bone marrow and accrue in the bloodstream.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cancer?
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes in the skin
· Darker skin (hyperpigmentation)
· Red eyes (erythema)
· Yellowish eyes and skin (jaundice)
· Itching (pruritis)
· Excessive growth of hair
Some other symptoms of cancer are:
- Change in bladder function or bowel habits (longterm diarrhoea, constipation, pain or blood in urine).
- Sores that do not heal.
- White spots on the tongue or white patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia).
- Unusual discharge or bleeding.
- Thickening or lump in any part of the body such as breast, testicles, lymph nodes, etc.
- Long-term indigestion or trouble in swallowing.
- Any changes in a mole, wart or any changes in the skin.
- Hoarseness or a nagging cough.
What Are The Causes Of Cancer?
- Exposure to toxic compounds or chemicals like benzene, asbestos, nickel, tobacco, etc.
- Ionising Radiation: UV rays from the sun, gamma rays, uranium and radon radiation, etc.
- Pathogens: HPV, herpes, hepatitis viruses, etc.
- Genetics: Cancers like ovarian, breast, skin, prostate, colorectal cancers and melanoma are linked to human genes and are inherited from members of the family.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Cancer?
- Maintaining a healthy body weight is very important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of various cancers such as colon, rectum, breast, endometrium, oesophagus, kidney and pancreas cancers.
- Use healthy cooking methods like broiling, baking, steaming and poaching of foods instead of frying or charbroiling to prevent weight gain and obesity.
- Protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen or hats or scarves to prevent the risk of skin cancer.
- Go in for regular screening tests for cancer every year after the age of 40.
- Use the techniques of self-examination every month that may help to detect lumps that may indicate breast cancer in women and prostate or testicular cancer in men.
- If you are suffering from cancer, you may feel fatigue and weak. Have plenty of rest but at the same lead an active life.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Cancer?
- Avoid smoking and tobacco products.
- Avoid large portion sizes of foods and choose low-calorie foods.
What Are The Best Foods For Cancer?
- Eat nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes like beans and peas and other high-calories foods as this helps to prevent putting on weight, obesity and the risk of cancer.
- Eat lean meats like poultry, fish, etc. instead of red meat like pork, lamb and beef to prevent weight gain and the risk of cancers.
- Eat whole fruits and vegetables. If you are drinking juice, then drink only 100% fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
- Choose whole grains and whole grain products like whole grain pasta, cereals, and bread. Eat brown rice instead of white rice. These are healthier alternatives and prevents the risk of cancers.
- Drink plenty of water and healthy juices. It is very important to stay hydrated if you are having cancer.
What Are The Worst Foods For Cancer?
- Avoid calorie-dense, fatty foods like chips, French fries, doughnuts, pastries, ice creams, etc. as they cause weight gain and obesity, which are the main cause of cancer.
- Reduce or eliminate your consumption of sugar and sugary foods and beverages like sports drinks, soft drinks, etc. as sugar boosts the insulin and suppresses the immune system and also feeds the cancer cells.
- Reduce or eliminate processed meats that are smoked, cured salted or preserved like sausages, hot dogs, bacon, lunch meats, etc. as they increase the risk of cancer.
- Avoid creamy dressings, sauces and dips as they are high in calories and can cause weight gain.
- Avoid red meat as these meats increase the risk of cancer.
- Avoid genetically modified (GMO) foods as they will worsen the effects of cancer.
- Avoid soybean oil or corn oil as these can suppress the immune system further, especially if the oils are hydrogenated.
- Avoid drinking alcohol as it can cause liver, oesophageal and breast cancer.
What Are The Medicines For Cancer?
What Are The Tips To Manage Cancer?
- Foods like ginseng, green tea, aloe vera, lycopene, vitamins and dietary supplements are sometimes used as an alternative treatment for cancer. However, before using any of these as a remedy for cancer, check with your doctor.
- Acupuncture has been used in many instances to treat cancer as an alternative therapy. However, before you decide to go in for such therapies, do consult with your doctor.
- There are a few vaccines that can help to prevent cancer. You can check these out and take the vaccines as recommended.
- Don’t be stressed or anxious. Take up yoga or meditation that can help you deal with any stress.
- Mental health counselling, relaxation exercises and stress management can help you manage fatigue and help you overcome it.
- Take up activities that will help to distract you from your illness like gardening, bird watching, walking in the park, photography, etc.