Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases and probably, the most misunderstood. People believe that being diagnosed means death sentence. But this is not so. Most cancers, if detected early enough and treated the right way, can be cured. Some cancers are even preventable, especially those caused due to unhealthy lifestyle, drinking and smoking.
Here Are 9 Frequently Asked Questions About Cancer
1. “What is cancer?”
Cancer is a condition wherein there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. This happens when the body’s normal cell control system stops working. The old cells don’t die and grow out of control, forming new, abnormal cells. These cells form a mass of tissue, called a tumour. The abnormal growth may spread to other parts of the body as well. There are more than 100 types of identified cancers that can be divided into solid organ cancers and blood cancers. Blood cancers affect the components of the blood and the bone marrow, which is the source of blood.
2. “What causes cancer?”.
Cancer can be caused due to genetic mutation in the cells or changes to genes that control the way cells function, especially how they grow and divide. Gene mutations can be congenital or occur after birth.
Cancers can also be triggered by:
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Smoking or any form of tobacco consumption
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Bad food habits
- Obesity and lack of exercise
- Chronic stress (makes the body acidic, which helps cancer grow and spread)
- Continued exposure to carcinogens including chemicals and construction dust
- Exposure to harmful radiation
- Chronic inflammation
- Certain viral/ bacterial infections
- Hormone problems
3. “How do I know if I’ll get cancer?”
Cancer is like any other disease. One can’t really stop cancer, but can prevent/ reduce the risk by living a healthy life and avoiding exposure to carcinogens. Both men and women can get cancer. Family history of cancer (especially immediate family) is a risk factor, but it’s not necessary that a person will get cancer if someone in his or her family has has/had it. If you are above 40, have a family history of cancer or notice any abnormal symptoms, it’s advisable to undergo a cancer-screening test.
4. “Does cancer occur mostly in older people?”
Though cancer can occur in both adults and children, the risk of cancer increases with age.
5. “How will I know if have cancer?”
Cancer can’t be self-diagnosed, only a doctor, after through investigations and tests can say if a person has cancer or not. Common cancer symptoms include:
- Abnormal growths or lumps in the body/ growing moles
- Red spots on the skin
- Persistent fever
- Persistent cough with blood tinged saliva
- Hoarseness of voice
- Recurrent infections
- Frequent indigestion and loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Mouth ulcers that won’t heal
- Intense pain that won’t go off
- Change in bowel habits/ blood with stool
- Change in urination
- Unusual vaginal discharge/bleeding
Having any of the above symptoms DOES NOT mean cancer – these can also be the aftereffect of other underlying health problems. That’s why it’s important to get any abnormal symptoms checked by a doctor, so that one does not need to live in constant fear of cancer.
6. “What will I do if I get cancer?”
- To begin with, stop worrying whether you’ll get cancer. Worrying causes the acidity levels in the body to rise, which in turn can affect your overall health.
- The key to effective treatment of any disease including cancer is early detection. So if you notice any abnormal symptoms or growth on your body, meet your doctor immediately.
- If your doctor recommends cancer screening, don’t worry. Cancer screening also helps detect possible a cancer/ malignant growth and prevent the same from spreading.
- Being diagnosed with cancer does not mean end of the world. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, don’t lose heart. It’s natural to get shock and depressed, but the fighter in you can overcome it all. Tell yourself and others around you that you’ll never concede defeat to the disease. Positivity and courage works wonders.
- Discuss with your doctor about the possible treatment options. Cancer management can include medication, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Your doctor will decide the type of treatment depending on your health condition.
- The treatment will focus on maximum possible cure and improving your quality of life. It’s going to be difficult journey emotionally and physically, but not an impossible one if you set your mind to it.
- Complementing your treatment with age-old healing/calming therapies like a Yoga and Meditation can help a lot.
- You can resume your normal life once you doctor approves.
- Never miss an appointment/ follow-up check with your doctor.
- Live a healthy life.
“What is the survival rate of cancer? Can I live a normal life if I’m a survivor?”
Most cancers can be treated effectively if diagnosed in the early stages. However, the treatment mode/ tenure of different cancers is different and so are the survival rates.
Yes, millions of cancer survivors lead a normal life, including celebrities. All you need to have is the will to live and the courage to overcome the fear of cancer.
8.“Can I prevent cancers?”
Yes, you can prevent certain kinds of cancers by:
- Adopting a healthy lifestyle
- Quitting smoking/ chewing tobacco
- Avoiding alcohol
- Eating healthy
- Avoiding stress
- Getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night
- Avoiding exposure to carcinogens
- Avoiding infections like HPV that cause cervical cancer
- Taking vaccine shots for prevention of cervical cancer
9. “Is cancer contagious?”
Cancer is NOT contagious and does not spread through touch, kissing, hugging, sexual contact, sharing meals, or breathing the same air. Cancer cells from one person won’t be able to live in the body of another healthy person.