What is cancer?
Cancer is any of many diseases in which cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably, and sometimes spread to other areas of the body. Cancerous cells can start almost anywhere in the human body and invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. When they grow or multiply too much, they may cause a growth called a tumour.
There are more than 200 types of cancer, some of the most common are:
Cancer is caused by certain changes (mutations) to genes (sections of DNA that carry instructions to make proteins) that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide. It’s not clear how many mutations must accumulate for cancer to form but it likely varies among cancer types.
There is no single cause of cancer, but for some cancers, scientist have found a direct link to:
- Genetic risk factors, such as if a parent passes a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene to their child, the child will have a much higher risk of developing breast cancer
- Ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, which can lead to skin cancer
- Infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis, which can lead to cervical and liver cancer respectively
- Unhealthy lifestyle that includes tobacco use, high body mass index, alcohol consumption, low fruit and vegetable intake, and lack of physical activity, which can lead to a variety of cancers
The symptoms of cancer vary depending on the type of cancer and phase. And some people have no symptoms at all. Here are some common symptoms to look out for:
- Unexplained drenching night sweats or fever
- Feeling tired all the time for no clear reason
- Unexplained bleeding of any colour, or bruising
- Unexplained, persistent pain or ache anywhere in the body
- Unexplained, noticeable weight loss without trying
- Unusual, persistent lumps or swelling anywhere in the body
In advanced stages, cancer is fatal, so it is important to detect any unexplained changes to your body as soon as possible.
What causes cancer?
Cancer is caused by harmful changes to the DNA within cells. What causes those changes or mutations is not always known but can be related to viruses, lifestyle, genetics, radiation or a combination of factors.
Is cancer contagious?
No. Cancer is not contagious and you should not avoid people who have it. They need your support more than ever.
Can deodorant cause breast cancer?
To date, there is no clear link between antiperspirants containing aluminum and breast cancer.