Cancer

A Brief Examination of the Types of Cancer and the Treatment Options Available

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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Every year, millions of individuals will succumb to various forms of this serious illness. Although the number of deaths has begun to fall in recent times, this disease still represents one of the most severe public health risks. Nonetheless, some recent advances are helping in both early detection and treatment options.

Cancer Explained

A cancer is broadly defined as a group of cells that grow and divide uncontrollably. These cells can then begin to impede the functions of other nearby organs. The result will usually be the growth of a malignant tumour.

Cancer can adopt a wide variety of forms. For example, it can present itself in the lungs and become lung cancer. In men, prostate and colorectal cancers are two of the main types found after the age of fifty. Women need to be particularly wary of cancer of the breasts and ovarian cancer.

However, both sexes can fall victim to all forms of this disease including liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer and should the cancerous cells reach the bone marrow, leukaemia is often times the result. Lymphoma is another serious form of this disease, as the cancerous cells are transported through the lymph glands to various parts of the body, therefore making this particular type extremely difficult to treat. Finally, overexposure to the sun or a genetic predisposition can lead some to develop cancerous cutaneous lesions such as a carcinoma or a melanoma.

Some of the most common forms of malignant cancers are:
  • Breast Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukaemia
  • Colon Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Skin Cancer

These cancers can be caused by environmental factors, genetic inheritance, certain medical conditions such as diabetes and even psychological stress has been theorized to play a powerful role

The initial warning signs of cancer depend on the location where it has formed. Abnormal surface lesions may point to a carcinoma or a melanoma and should be checked by a physician. However, symptoms of an internal cancer often include systemic conditions such as a lowered immune system, easy bruising, unexplained weight loss, a lack of appetite and general feelings of lethargy. All of these symptoms need to be accurately diagnosed by a trained physician to determine whether any type of cancer may be the cause.

Common signs can include but are not limited to:
  • Abnormal skin lesions
  • A lowered immune system
  • Easy bruising
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • General malaise

Medical Options

The options available will depend on the type of cancer present and if it is localized or has spread to other regions. Smaller lesions and groups of cells may be removed and low doses of radiation may be required to ensure full recovery. For larger areas and particularly around vital organs such as the liver, kidney, lungs or brain, targeted radiation and chemotherapy treatments will be prescribed by doctors in an oncology department. They will monitor all progress and help make certain that the patient remains as healthy as possible during this difficult process.

In essence, the prognosis will depend on the health of the individual, the type of cancer, where it is located and how early it was found.

To summarize - The main options for treatment will often be:
  • Targeted radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • A combination of both radiation and chemotherapy.
The chance of a positive outcome will depend on:
  • The health of the patient.
  • The type of cancer.
  • The location of the cancer.
  • How early the cancer was discovered.