World Rose day is celebrated on September 22 each year to honour those who are battling the fatal disease. The day is observed in the memory of Melinda Rose who was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer at twelve years of age. She spent her whole life inspiring others to fight the disease. Below, we discuss the most common types of cancer, the early signs that point towards the disease and their detection.
Cancer is a term used to describe several diseases that involve the growth and division of cells beyond normal levels. Such cells eventually spread to other body parts and cause a host of complications. If not detected and treated on time, they reduce the patient’s quality of life and lead to early death. Cancers can develop due to environmental factors such as pollution and radiation, diet, lifestyle, infections and genetic factors.
Types of cancers
There are four principal types of cancers. They are carcinoma, sarcoma, lymphoma (categorised under sarcoma) and leukaemia. Carcinomas form on skin and tissues and are the most common forms of cancer. Breast cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer are carcinomas. Sarcomas occur on muscles, cartilage, tendons, bone, joints, lymphatics, blood vessels, nerves and fat cells. Lymphoma occurs on the lymphatic system, while leukaemia or blood cancer originates in the bone marrow.
Abnormal cell growth creates a host of complications in the body mechanism. The symptoms may be difficult to identify for a patient as cancer-related since they occur in other diseases too. Some of the early signs of cancer are wounds and sores that do not heal, swollen lumps or glands that do not subside, persistent tiredness, recurring fever, persistent cough and hoarseness in voice, unusual discharge or bleeding, loss of appetite, weight loss, and jaundice in the elderly.
Detection of cancers take place after a high degree of clinical suspicion and family history of cancers. This is followed by laboratory investigations such as tumour markers, radiological tests like X-Ray, CT scan, MR scan, PET scan and Mammography. Cancers are eventually confirmed by biopsy of the affected parts.