For life-threatening diseases such as cancer, the first step towards its prevention is awareness. World Cancer Day is dedicated specifically to achieving this goal. It aims at creating cancer awareness and preventing, detecting, and treating the disease.

What is Cancer?

Cancer in the body is caused where abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and spread into other tissues. Cancer starts when genetic changes make one cell or a few cells, grow and multiply excessively. This causes a growth called a tumour. There are over 200 types of cancer.

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Types of Cancers

Some of the most common cancers in the United States are:

  • Lung Cancer: Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Lead a healthy life without active or passive smoking. Additionally, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. To protect you and your family, consider getting your home tested for radon levels to lower the risk of lung cancer from radon exposure.
  • Breast Cancer: Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in United States. To lower the risk of breast cancer, consider getting frequent mammogram screenings as recommended by your doctor.
  • Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is the most common and second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. Consider following a healthy lifestyle, and getting frequent screenings as recommended by your doctor.
  • Bladder Cancer: Every year, over 70,000 men and women get bladder cancer. To lower the risk, consider avoiding active or passive smoking, take plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fluids, and be careful around certain chemicals.

Learn more about other cancer types here.

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Cancer Symptoms

Some general symptoms associated with cancer include fatigue, lump or thickening under the skin, unintended weight changes, skin changes, persistent cough, breathing troubles, persistent muscles or joints pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising, consistent indigestion. Symptoms may vary by the type for cancer developing in the body.

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If you experience these symptoms, you may consider talking to your doctor and get necessary screenings done.

Cancer Myths and Misconceptions

  1. Cancer is always fatal: Modern medicines have made huge progress in cancer treatment. Moreover, early diagnosis and detection improve the survival rate.
  2. Cancer is contagious: Cancer can spread within the body, but it cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
  3. Radiation therapy is dangerous to life: Radiation therapy has some side effects, but these are not life-threatening.
  4. Those who do not have family history of cancer, will not get cancer: Family history of cancer increases your chance of developing the disease, but this does not mean that if you do not have family history of cancer, you will not get the disease.
  5. Surgery for cancer will spread the disease: Surgical tumour resection is an important and often life-saving treatment and helps to prevent the spread of cancer to other body organs.
  6. All lumps are cancerous: A doctor must conduct tests to check if the lump is benign, precancerous, or cancerous.
  7. Your attitude determines the outcome of cancer treatment: Cancer is not cured by a "positive mindset," and cancer is not caused by a "negative attitude." Nevertheless, it helps to keep a positive outlook and hope for the best.

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Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction

Consider following these preventive measures to protect you and your loved ones from getting cancer

  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the human papillomavirus (HPV), to protect against the infection-related cancers of liver and cervical.
  • Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol consumption.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and healthy eating.
  • Talk to you doctor and get regular cancer screening tests.
  • Limit your exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and avoid tanning beds.
  • Consider getting your home tested for radon and asbestos by a trained professional to help protect yourself and your family from lung cancer.

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The Bottom Line 

It is well-accepted that genetic factors and your lifestyle choices have an impact on your risk of developing cancer. So, be aware, follow a healthy lifestyle, and follow prevention strategies to reduce the risk of developing cancer. 

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!