CANCER and You
~ What is Cancer?
> Cancer is the general term used to prescribe the group of illnesses in which cells are growing in an uncontrolled and purposeless way within the body.
> The body is made up of many types of cells each with special tasks to perform. During life, body cells are replaced or reparired when they become worn out or damaged. For this to occur cells divide and grow in an orderly manner. Cancer develops when these cells have lost the ability to stop growing and they continue to grow forming masses and growths called Cancer.
> Cells of this lump may be Benign or Malignant. Benign tumours are self contained and do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumours are not self-contained and easily break away from the original or primary tumour invading neighbouring tissues and organs or spread to other parts of the body.
WHAT CAUSES CANCER
> The causes of cancer are not yet fully understood. However genetic changes or mutation caused
by chemicals, radiation and viruses that we are exposed to may be responsible.
> While genetics certainly play a role in Cancer development, certain environmental factors
contribute in a major way to our chance of getting Cancer.
SOME ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE CANCER DEVELOPMENT
> LIFE STYLE FACTORS
~ Cigarette smoking
~ Diets high in fat
~ Smoked or salted meat and fish
~ Alcohol abuse
~ Lack of physical activity
~ Certain drugs including chemotherapy agents, hormones (estrogen), immunosuppressants (cyclosporine).
~ Certain chemicals (arsenic, abestos, benzene and vinyl chloride)
~ Certain infections (HIV, Human Papilloma Virus, Epstein-Barr Virus, Helicobactor Pylori, Hepatitis B and C)
~ Occupational hazards (working in uranium mines and abestos factories).
~ Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.
> CONGENITAL CONDITIONS
~ Fanconi’s Anemia
~ Down’s Syndrome
> WHY DOES HAVING CANCER MAKE A PERSON FEEL SICK?
> Most typesof Cancer release chemicals that make a person feel ill. These chemicals called cytokines are released into the blood causing flu like symptoms, fevers, chillis, sweats,
fatigue, anorexia (loss of appetite) nausea and vomiting.
> One of the cytokines called Tumour Necrosis Factor is associated with cachexia / muscle wasting or loss of weight. These symptoms are the ones that often bring the person with cancer to the doctor’s attention in the first place.
> POSSIBLE WARNING SIGNS OF CANCER
> A new lump or thickening in any part of the body.
> A sore that does not heal.
> A new spot or mole that changes in shape, size or colour.
> Any unusual bleding or discharge.
> Persistent indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
> Any change in bowel habits.
> Persistent cough or hoarseness of voice.
> Any unexplained loss of weight or appetite.
> EARLY DETECTION OF CANCER
~ The earlier a Cancer is detected, the better the treatment options and the greater
the chance of a cure.
~ Have a regular medical check-up, at least once a year.
~ If you have any unusual signs or symptoms, consult your doctor without delay.
~ Have a Pap Smear once in every 2 years, starting from the age you become sexually active.
~ Examine your breasts monthly to feel for any lumps or other changes
~ Ask your doctor to examine your breasts at your annuall medical check-up.
~ If you are more than 40 years of age, baseline mammogram must be done.
Regular check-ups are done accordingly.
~ Talk to your doctor about any family history of Cancer.
~ Have a medical check-up once a year.
~ Talk to your doctor about urinary problems
~ Examine your testicles monthly by feeling or any lumps or other changes.
~ Talk to your doctor about any family history of Cancer or other risk factors
REDUCING THE RISK OF CANCER
> Dont smoke, cigarette smoking is the single most avoidable cause of Cancer.
> When in the sun, wear sunglasses, put on a hat and apply sunscreen.
> Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables especially cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), soya and cereals.
> Eat low fat foods and limit salt cured, smoked and BBQ meats
> Be moderate with alcohol intake.
> Do regular exercise 2 or 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes eact time.
> Use protective clothing when using chemicals in your work place.
> Practise safe sex.
> Dont take drugs unless medically recommended.
> Remain within a healthy weight range.
TREATMENT OF CANCER
> Many Cancers can be cured if diagnosed and treated early.
> The main methods of treating Cancer are:
~ Surgery is the cutting out and removing of the cancerous growth from the body together with a margin of normal tissue.
~ Radiotherapy is the use of radiation to destroy cancer cells.
~ Chemotherapy is the use of many different types of drugs to destroy cancer cells.
~ Hormone therapy alters the hormone balance in the body to alter the rate of growth of tumours.
Often one or more of these treatments may be used depending upon the type of Cancer,
where it is the age of the person and the general state of health.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
> If you are worried about symptoms you think might be Cancer, you may contact us.
> When Cancer is diagnosed, you and your family may want support and information,
not only on the illness but in coping with the changes and demands that it makes o the whole family.
> Being diagnosed with Cancer is a very emotional experience for the patients and their loved ones.
> Knowledge is power. Understanding the illness often helps the patients and their loved ones to deal with the illness better.