FAQs About Cancer

Healthy breast cells grow normally within the breast tissue. Some cells grow abnormally and invade surrounding breast cells and form malignant cells or tumours. These malignant cells can grow aggressively and spread to other body parts and distant organs as well causing metastatic breast cancer. Therefore, breast cancer when confined within a breast lump can be easily detected, diagnosed and treated by lumpectomy. Early detection through breast cancer screening is critical in such cases. Breast cancer almost entirely occurs in women, but men too are susceptible to it though rarely.
A woman can herself do breast self-examination (BSE) and look for the following signs and symptoms of breast cancer: change in the colour or texture of breast skin; dimpling of the breast skin; a breast thickening or presence of breast lump; change in the size and shape of the breast; changes in the appearance of the breast; fluid or any unusual discharge from the breast; redness or pitting of the breast and change in the appearance of the nipple (inverted nipple).
A lump in your breast doesn’t always mean that you have breast cancer though the common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or a mass in the breast. Which means all lumps are not cancerous or malignant. Lumps are usually hard and painless. However, lumps can sometimes be painful as well. Sometimes cysts – which are benign can also cause lumps. In addition, if you notice swelling or lumps in the lymph nodes of armpits – then this could mean breast cancer as breast cancer is characterized by lumps in the breast and swelling in the lymph nodes of the armpits even before its onset. In such cases, the sooner you approach to the best surgical oncologist in Hyderabad the better. A clinical examination done by a surgical oncologist helps in diagnosing breast cancer in the early stage and initiating prompt treatment immediately.
The chemicals that are normally used in cosmetics and beauty products are being studied extensively to know whether they can be carcinogenic – so far, the results and outcomes of such studies are mixed. Therefore, it is better to have proper knowledge of the ingredients that are being used in cosmetics in order to minimize the risks associated with their usage.
Phthalates and Parabens are some of the preservatives used in deosprays. They can increase estrogen levels – it is linked to the risk of breast cancer, but there are no conclusive studies which are consistent to suggest any link between usage of antiperspirants and breast cancer. However, it is difficult to prove that these chemicals do not increase breast cancer risk as a few studies are showing the risk, but other investigators are proving it wrong.
No. it is not always true – though a strong family history is a cancer risk factor, but it doesn’t mean that you will get it because your sister or mother have had breast cancer. However, to understand the risk and future possibility of getting breast cancer – genetic testing of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene will help. With this you can make better choices about your future care. Even for women with BRCA1 & BRCA2 genes there are other methods and medicines available – which potentially help in early diagnosis and prevention of breast and ovarian cancer.
The following are the risk factors for lung cancer: smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke; exposure to soot, tar, nickel, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, asbestos at workplace, air pollution, old age, exposure to radon gas present in soil and rocks and a family history of lung cancer. Smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer.
Non-smoking adults who live closely with smokers should be aware of both main-stream smoke and side-stream smoke as they get exposed to second-hand smoke because according to the latest statistics of WHO – exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer both in non-smoking adults and children as well.
Though tobacco and all tobacco-based products (smokeless tobacco) are the major cause of oral cancer, there are other causes as well – such as poor oral and dental hygiene, loose fitting denture, constant trauma to the tongue by sharp tooth. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has now become one of the causative agents of oral cancers.
Overall health of an individual depends on several factors and nutritious diet plays an important role. Poor diet, inadequate intake of vitamins and minerals can raise an individual’s risk of developing illness due to weakened immune system. The risk increases if an individual is malnourished with other risk factors – tobacco usage, alcohol consumption, weak immune system and a strong family history of cancer. Therefore, poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle increase cancer risk by making an individual obese and nutrients deficient.
Excessive consumption of alcohol is a major risk factor for liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Heavy consumption of alcohol also increases the risk of oesophageal, pharyngeal and laryngeal cancers. In a nutshell, the risk of head and neck cancers increases immensely if an individual consumes alcohol and use tobacco.
The other risk factors for oral cancer include a weakened immune system and gender as men are at increased risk of developing head and neck cancer compared to women – but over a few decades the rate of head and neck cancers in women is also on the rise.
Though cancer is the leading cause of deaths across the world, one in three cancer cases can be prevented – The World Health Organization and its report study says so. Neither there is a magic pill nor any gold standard rule, yet there are certain things that can be done to prevent cancer. They include weight management, diet management, stress management, eating fruits and vegetables, avoiding red meat, refined sugars and remaining active throughout the day.
Screening is a systematic evaluation of normal rather healthy persons to determine whether there is any underlying cancer even if there are no apparent signs and symptoms. During a screening, healthy individuals are screened in the absence of any symptoms. During the initial or early stages of most of the cancers, there are no symptoms at all. Therefore, screening is necessary as it helps detect cancers when they are in early stages and ensure prompt treatment in time.
Breast cancer screening is recommended for women over 45 years of age to reduce the risk of breast cancer by detecting it in the early stages. Breast cancer can turn metastatic when allowed to grow and the treatment in such cases can become tougher as cancer becomes life-threatening. In India, majority of the breast cancer cases are being detected in the third and fourth stages of cancer owing to which both treatment and survival become difficult. The possibility of successful treatment is pretty good if breast cancer is detected in the early stages by proper screening. In a nutshell, early diagnosis leads to the highest cure rates.
About 5% to 10% of all cancers are linked to genes that are inherited from parents.
There are several types of cancers that are known to occur in close family members owing to the presence of certain genes – for instance, certain types of breast and ovarian cancers in women. Such types of cancers tend to occur at an early age and become quite aggressive. However, genetic testing helps in predicting and preventing such types of cancers with high accuracy.
India is preparing for something unpleasant as the cancer incidences are going to almost double in the next 10 to 15 years. Majority of the cancers in India are being detected in individuals falling under 38 to 65 years age – a peak age for economic productivity. And most of such cancers in India are associated with preventable causes such as tobacco usage, excessive alcohol consumption, infections and diet. Breast and cervical cancers account for nearly about 42% of all cancer cases in India. Another major worrisome trend in India pertaining to breast cancer is the age shift of breast cancer cases – which is now shifting towards younger age group women. According to the latest statistics, nearly about 25% of the new breast cancer cases are now occurring in women between age 25 to 45 years – which is quite pathetic.