What is Cancer: Causes, Signs & Symptoms, Prevention, Early Detection, and Treatment

World Cancer Day 2023: Celebrated on February 4 to raise global cancer awareness. The day had its origin in 2000 at the first World Cancer Summit and was held in Paris. According to the WHO, if cancer cases continue to increase at the reported rate, the number of cancer deaths worldwide will rise to more than 16.3 million by 2040.

कैंसर का इलाज संभव है यदि शुरुवात में ही इसकी प हचान हो सके #WorldCancerDay #SwasthaBharat#beatNCDs pic.twitter.com/mZLuKdSEkb

— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA)
February 4, 2023

Furthermore, according to the WHO, up to 40 percent of cancer deaths can be prevented. Raising awareness is therefore important and has become a prominent role of several health and cancer organizations around the world. World Cancer Day is an annual reaffirmation of the importance of this goal.

The theme of this year’s World Cancer Day campaign is “Closing the Care Gap.” It focuses on raising awareness about this equity gap that affects almost everyone, in both high- and low- and middle-income countries.

What is cancer?

It is a disease that occurs when changes occur in a group of cells within the body and cause abnormal and uncontrolled growth, forming a lump known as a tumor. This is true for all cancers except leukemia, which is a blood cancer. If a tumor is left untreated, it grows and spreads to surrounding normal tissue or to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and lymphatic systems, so it can affect the digestive, nervous and circulatory systems or release hormones that can affect function. of the body.

Cancer tumors can be divided into three groups: benign, malignant or precancerous.

About the benign tumor

Benign tumors are not cancerous and are rarely life-threatening. They grow slowly inside the body and also do not spread to other parts of the body. They are usually made up of cells that are quite similar to normal or healthy cells. The problem occurs only when they grow too much, becoming uncomfortable or putting pressure on any other organ. For example a brain tumor inside the skull.

READ| What is glioblastoma or grade IV GBM cancer?

About malignant tumor

Malignant tumors grow faster than benign tumors. They have the ability to spread and destroy neighboring tissue. Cells from malignant tumors can break away from the main or primary tumor and spread to various parts of the body through a process called metastasis. They invade healthy tissue at the new site and continue to divide and grow. Secondary sites are called metastases and the condition is called metastatic cancer.

About precancerous (or premalignant)

It is a condition that involves abnormal cells that can or are likely to become cancer.

How does cancer occur?

Due to various factors it can be caused and many other diseases. Most cancers are the result of exposure to various causative factors. But it is important to remember that although some factors cannot be modified, a third of cancer cases can be prevented by reducing behavioral and dietary risks.

Some modifiable risk factors are the following:


Being overweight or obese

Diet and nutrition

Physical activity: Regular physical activity helps reduce excess fat in the body and the cancer risks associated with this will also be reduced, such as in the development of colon, breast and endometrial cancers.


Ionizing radiation: Cancer can also be caused by man-made radiation sources and are a risk to workers, including radon, x-rays, gamma rays, and other forms of high-energy radiation.

Occupational hazards

Infection: About 2.2 million cancer deaths reportedly occur annually due to infectious agents. That is, cancer cannot be contracted like an infection, but the virus can cause changes in cells that make them more likely to become cancerous.

Some of the non-modifiable risk factors are the following:

Age: Several types of cancer are said to become more common with age. The longer people live, the greater their exposure to carcinogens and the longer it takes for genetic changes or mutations to occur within their cells.

Carcinogenic substances (carcinogens): are substances that change the behavior of a cell and increase the chances of developing cancer.


Immune system: People who have a weak immune system are more at risk of developing some types of cancer.

What is “high grade” metastatic cancer?

What are the signs and symptoms of cancer?

Cancers are of various types and that is why the symptoms also vary and depend on where the disease is located. Some key signs and symptoms are:

Unusual lumps or swelling

Changes in intestinal habit.


Shortness of breath or difficulty swallowing

Unexplained weight loss


pain or pain

A new mole or changes in a mole.

Complications when urinating

Unusual breast changes

A sore or ulcer that does not heal

Heartburn or Indigestion: Persistent or painful heartburn or indigestion.

Severe night sweats

Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

It is said that more than a third of all cancers can be prevented by reducing exposure to risk factors such as tobacco, obesity, physical activity, infections, alcohol, environmental pollution, occupational carcinogens and radiation. Additionally, prevention of certain cancers can be effective through vaccination against hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV). They help protect against liver cancer and cervical cancer respectively.

There are several cancers that can be identified early and help improve the chances of successful treatment outcomes, often at lower costs and with fewer or less significant side effects for patients. There are some cost-effective tests that help detect colorectal, breast, cervical and oral cancers early. Additionally, more tests are being developed for other cancers. It is important to consult with your doctor for guidance on national recommendations for vaccines, tests, and screenings.

Cancer treatment

Cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer, its location, its size, whether it has spread, and also your general health.

The general types of treatments are Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Hormone Therapy, Immunotherapy and Gene Therapy.

READ| World Cancer Day 2023: Check Theme, Quotes, Inspirational Messages, Slogans and More

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Source: sef.edu.vn

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