What you need to know about Cancer

Updated at: Dec 30, 2010
What you need to know about Cancer

Cancer is not a single disease, but a group of more than 100 different kinds of cancers. There are slow growing cancers and aggressive (fast growing) cancers. Let us understand the disease.

Editorial Team
CancerWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Dec 30, 2010

What you need to know about Cancer Cancer is not a single disease, but a group of more than 100 different kinds of cancers. There are slow growing cancers and aggressive (fast growing) cancers. Most lumps, bumps, ulcers, etc. are not cancers and are called benign tumours. 


Cancers or malignant tumours invade and destroy the neighbouring healthy parts of the body. It is part of their nature, that these tumours spread (metastasise) to other parts of the body and form new tumours in these new locations. Because of this, it is important to find out as early as possible if such a tumour is present and when it is discovered, proper and definitive treatment be started, as early as possible. Pain is not an early sign of cancer.


Common cancers

  • Men:  Lung, Larynx, Tongue, Mouth, Oesophagus, Bladder, Gall Bladder, Prostate, Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).
  • Women:  Breast, Cervix, ovary, gall bladder, Oesophagus, Lung, Thyroid, Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), Brain, Myloid Leukemia.

Warning Signs

  • Change in bowel or bladder habits.   
  • A sore/wound that does not heal.
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge from any part of body. 
  • Thickening / lump in breast or elsewhere.  
  • Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.  
  • Obvious change in size of a wart or mole.   
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness.

If any of these symptoms persist for two or more weeks it is important that you see your doctor and make sure it's not cancer. Don't wait for symptoms to become painful, Remember that these are not sure signs of cancer and these maybe due to many other reasons.


Causes of Cancer

  • Tobacco and tobacco products initiate cancer.
  • Alcohol promotes cancer.
  • High fat foods and overweight.
  • Infections HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Papilloma virus etc. 
  • Genetic.
  • Unknown. 


  • Avoid active and passive smoking.
  • Eat whole grains, fruits and fresh vegetables.
  • Watch the meats you eat, especially smoked or cured foods. 
  • Limit your alcohol intake. 
  • Exercise. 
  • Know your personal and family history of cancer. 
  • Avoid exposure to - household solvent cleaners, cleaning fluids, and paint thinners, pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals.
  • Avoid multiple sex partners.  
  • Be sure to keep up on screening tests like the Pap, mammograms, and Digital Rectal Examinations (DREs).
  • Practice sun safety and recognize when skin changes occur. 

Early Detection


The earlier cancer is detected / discovered the better are your chances of cure and complete recovery. It is important to realize that many cancers today are curable. 


Monthly self examination


Monthly self examination by each and every one of us will go a long way in detecting cancer at the early stage. One can stand in front of large mirror, undress completely and look for the following:

  • Mouth:  Change in colour of gums, lips and cheeks, White, Brown or red patches, ulcer, sore or scab, thickening in any part of the mouth.
  • Neck : Look for any lump, swelling or any other abnormality. o Breast : Do complete self breast examination.
  • Abdomen : Any swelling, enlargement or hardness of abdomen.
  • Testis : Any enlargement, swelling or hardness
  • Limbs : Any swelling/lump etc.If you find anything abnormal, record it on a notebook and report it to your doctor. In case everything is normal, RELAX!

Annual health check up


This is most important for all of us because it is through these annual check ups that we can find out about the status of our health. Annual Health check up should also include cancer check up which includes the following: 


For females it is a must to go for

  • General Body Check up
  • Breast Examination
  • Examination Pap smears
  • Mammography
  • Pelvic Examination
  • Colon Rectum Examination 

For males it is a must to go for

  • General Body Check up
  • Colon   Rectum
  • Testicles Examination
  • Prostate Examination
  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)



Depending on the type of cancer (diagnosis) and how far it has spread (staging) it is treated with surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and often various combinations of these.  It is therefore important that, if someone you know, develops a cancer, you should go to a comprehensive or dedicated cancer care superspeciality hospital with NABH ACCREDITATION, where a correct diagnosis, staging and planned treatment can be carried out. 



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