Cancer Awareness

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Dr. Tushar V Patil

Posted By : Dr. Tushar V Patil - DM (Onco), MD (Medicine),MBBS

Posted On : Aug 28, 2011 (Views : 2827)

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The word CANCER immediately brings to mind a sense of doom and invokes great fear in the minds of common people.

This is largely because of very little understanding about various aspects of cancer, its causes, origin, patterns of growth and the outcomes of various kinds of cancers.

Fpr example, a blood cancer (ALL) occurring in a child is curable in almost 80-90% whereas widespread carcinoma lung occurring in an elderly person has a dismal outcome

So, with this background, let us take a brief look at cancer in general

What Is Cancer?

CANCER is a condition which occurs when normal cells mutate into abnormal cells that take over normal tissue, eventually harming and destroying the host

It is characterized by:

– Uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells

– Proliferation (rapid reproduction by cell division)

– Metastasis (spread of cancer cells from one organ or part to another not directly connected)


Cancer cell characteristics:

  • Undifferentiated

  • Erratic and Uncontrolled Growth

  • Expansive and Invasive

  • Secretes abnormal proteins

  • Metastasizes i.e. spreads to distant places



    Physical stressors

    Chemical carcinogens


    Hormonal factors

    Genetic factors


    Etiology of cancer


    • Radiation

    • Exposure to irritants

    • Exposure to sunlight


    • Smoking

    • Industrial chemicals- benzene

    3. Genetics and Family History

    • Colon Cancer

    • Premenopausal breast cancer

    4. Dietary Habits

    • Low-Fiber

    • High-fat

    • Processed foods

    • alcohol

    5. Viruses and Bacteria

    • DNA viruses- Hepatitis B, Herpes, EBV, CMV, Papilloma Virus

    • RNA Viruses- HIV, HTCLV

    • Bacterium- H. pylori



    Warning Signs of Cancer

    1. Change in bowel or bladder habits

    2. A sore that does not heal

    3. Unusual bleeding or discharge

    4. Thickenings or lumps

    5. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing

    6. Obvious change in a wart or mole

    7. Nagging or persistent cough or hoarseness

    8. Unexplained anemia

    9. Sudden unexplained weight loss


    1. Change in bowel or bladder habits

    • A person with colon cancer may have diarrhea or constipation, or he may notice that the stool has become smaller in diameter

    • He may also note either black coloured stools or fresh blood passage with stools

    2. A sore that does not heal

    • Small, scaly patches on the skin that bleed or do not heal may be a sign of skin cancer

    • A sore in the mouth that does not heal can indicate oral cancer

    3. Unusual bleeding or discharge

    • Blood in the stool is often the first sign of colon cancer

    • Similarly, blood in the urine is usually the first sign of bladder or kidney cancer

    • Postmenopausal bleeding (bleeding after menopause) may be a sign of uterine cancer

    4. Thickenings or lumps

    • Enlargement of the lymph nodes or glands (such as the thyroid gland) can be an early sign of cancer

    • Breast and testicular cancers may also present as a lump

    Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing

    – Cancers of the digestive system, including those of the esophagus, stomach, and pancreas, may cause indigestion, heartburn, or difficulty swallowing

    Obvious change in a wart or mole

    – Moles or other skin lesions that change in shape, size, or color should be reported

    Nagging or persistent cough or hoarseness

    – Cancers of the respiratory tract, including lung cancer and laryngeal cancer, may cause a cough that does not go away or a hoarse (rough) voice

    Unexplained anemia

    Sudden unexplained weight loss



    1. Reducing modifiable risk factors in the external and internal environment

    2. Prevention and detection

    3. VACCINATION- available against hepatitis B virus (causes primary liver cancer, Human papilloma virus (causes cervical cancer)

    4. SCREENING- very effective strategy for breast, cervix cancers

    5. Recognizing early signs and symptoms and seeking prompt treatment

    6. Prompt intervention to halt cancerous process



    1. Avoid alcohol/tobacco

    2. Protect from excessive sunlight

    3. Consume fruits and vegetables

    4. Exercise regularly

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