The big C. Nasty word. In my family, men typically die of heart disease and strokes and the women die of cancer. Cancer is, however, more predominant in males. The older one gets, the greater the chance of getting it. There is hope though. If the cancer is detected early, survival rates are near 80%. If the tumour is localized, it is easier to remove completely. Recent medical studies show that cancer survival rates are steadily rising, due to better treatments methods and early detection and better awareness in the general public about cancer.
Cancer begins when one cell in the body becomes abnormal or 'mutates'. This commonly occurs in most people and these cells are usually eliminated by the body's immune system. If the body is under a lot of stress, ill or subjected to substances that alter the cells, such as smoking or smokers, large amounts of alcohol, or some industrial chemicals, then it is fighting a tough battle. The immune system is a well-organized defence mechanism, but like everything else, it can only take so much. As a person ages, the immune system becomes slower to respond to threats. It cannot deliver the punch as well as it could when it was only 18. This means that cancers develop and are not detected in time to be eliminated by the body. Elimination requires surgery and medications.
The signs and symptoms of cancer are varied. In lung cancer, by the time there are symptoms, it is unfortuantely usually to late for medicine to be of much help except in pain relief.This is only one of the many reasons that it is important to have a yearly medical check up. An annual check-up will reveal any early warning signs. If there is a hint of something of concern, your family doctor will look into it further, ordering the required tests. It is this early detection that gives the patient a good chance of recovery.
According to the Cancer Society the signs to take to your doctor are the following:
- A change in bowel or bladder habits.
- A sore that doesn't heal.
- Unusual bleeding or discharge.
- Thickening or lump in breast, testicle, or else where.
- Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
- Obvious change in wart or mole.
- Nagging cough or hoarseness.
These are signs of cancer. They could be a symptom of some other condition but, only a careful examination and further testing by your Doctor will tell for sure.
In addition to regular check-ups and early detection, eating and living well are everyone's best defence against cancer. Extra calories feed cancer cells. Good nutrition, fresh air and exercise boosts your immune system and keeps it working for you longer. Reduce stress and exposure to known cancer causing agents. Know your body and see a doctor if anything changes.
Consult these pages for more information. DO NOT SELF-DIAGNOSE. Take your findings to your Family Physician. In 2 weeks I will be looking at pain and pain management.
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