Cancer

Cancer

What is it?

Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade other tissues throughout the body via the blood and lymph systems.

There are over 100 different types of cancer, most are named according to the organ or cell in which they start.

The main categories of cancer include;

Carcinoma cancer begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.
Sarcoma cancer begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue.
Leukemia cancer starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood.
Lymphoma and myeloma cancers begin in the cells of the immune system.
Central nervous system cancers begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.

In Australia, the most common cancers are prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, melanoma of the skin and lung cancer.

Causes & Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Cigarette smoking
  • UV rays
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Ionising radiation
  • Certain chemicals
  • Some viruses and bacteria
  • Certain hormones
  • Alcohol
  • Genetic predisposition

Many of these risk factors can be avoided.
Symptoms

Cancer can cause many different symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include;

  • A thickening or lump in the breast or other part of the body
  • A new mole or change in an existing mole
  • A wound that does not heal
  • A sore throat or hoarseness that will not go away
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Any changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Discomfort or pain after eating
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Unexplained weakness or tiredness

These symptoms can be due to many different causes that are most often not cancer. If you have any of these symptoms, it is best to see your GP as soon as possible who can diagnose and treat any problems.

Remember, early detection is the best way to beat cancer!

*Sourced from: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Cancer Institute USA

**Please note these are general recommendations only, and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, health practitioner or pharmacist. We highly recommend that you contact your preferred medical practitioner for further testing if symptoms persist.

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