General Cancer Information&Cancer Prevention Tips

Cancer is a broad term that encompasses over one hundred different types of cancer. Although each type has its own set of characteristics, there are some cancer symptoms that occur in many types of cancer.cancer1

It is important to note that some types of cancer do not present any symptoms until they are in advanced stages. This is why cancer screening and risk assessment are vital for cancer prevention and early detection.

Symptoms of Cancer

A broad spectrum of non-specific cancer symptoms may include:

  • Persistent Fatigue: Fatigue is one of the most commonly experienced cancer symptoms. It is usually more common when the cancer is advanced, but still occurs in the early stages of some cancers. Anemia is commonly the culprit — a condition that is associated with many types of cancer, especially types affecting the bowel. Fatigue is a symptom of both malignant and non-malignant conditions and should be evaluated by a physician.
  • Unintentional Weight Loss: While it may be a welcome surprise to lose weight without trying, it can be a red flag for many illnesses, including cancer. Losing 10 pounds or more unintentionally definitely warrants a visit to the doctor. This type of weight loss can occur with or without loss of appetite. Remember, weight loss can be a symptom of cancer, but is also a symptom of many other illnesses, too.
  • Pain Typically, pain is not an early symptom of cancer, except in some cancer types like those that spread to the bone. Pain generally occurs when cancer spreads and begins to affect other organs and nerves.Lower pack pain is cancer symptom that is associated with ovarian cancer and colon cancer. Shoulder pain can also be a symptom of lung cancer. Pain in the form of headaches can be associated with brain tumors (malignant and benign).Stomach pains can be related to types of cancer, like stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, and many others. Stomach pain can be a very vague symptom because so many illnesses can cause stomach pain.
  • Fever: A fever is a very non-specific symptom of many mild to severe conditions, including cancer. In relation to cancer, a fever that is persistent or one that comes and goes frequently can signal stress on the immune system. Fevers are commonly associated with types of cancer that affects the blood, like leukemia and lymphoma, but are also common in people whose cancer has spread.
  • Bowel Changes: If you experience constipation, diarrhea, blood in the stools, gas, thinner stools, or just a general overall change in bowel habits, see your doctor. These symptoms are most commonly associated with colon cancer, but are also related to other cancer types.
  • Chronic Cough: A persistent, new cough or a cough that won’t go away or becomes worse needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Blood and/or mucus may accompany the cough and can be caused many conditions. In relation to cancer, a chronic cough with blood or mucus can be symptom of lung cancer.

Keep in mind that these are very general, vague symptoms of cancer. If you have one or two of these symptoms, it is not a red flag for cancer but more an indication to your doctor to run certain medical tests. The symptoms listed above are experienced by most people with cancer at various stages of their disease, but are also linked to many other non-cancerous conditions. For more specific cancer symptoms, see below for symptom information about several types of cancer. You may also get a better understanding of what your symptoms may mean by using the About.com Symptom Checker, an interactive health education tool.

Alcohol Consumption
Chronic heavy drinking has been linked to an increased risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, pancreas and rectum. Consuming as little as three ounces of hard liquor every day for several years can cause damage.

Aspirin Linked to Reduced Lung Cancer Risk
Aspirin has already risen from the ranks of a mere pain reliever to become a highly valued heart attack and stroke prevention tool, and now researchers say preventing lung cancer may be added to its list of benefits.

Cancer and Nutrition
To prevent cancer, avoid dietary fats. Eat a diet rich in soy, fruits, vegetables and fiber.

Cancer Risk Factors
The following are various types of cancer and their risk factors:

* Breast- Family history of breast cancer, obesity, late childbearing and childlessness
* Bladder- Smoking (nearly half of cases), hair dye – bladder cancer is more common in men than women
* Cervical- First intercourse at an early age, multiple sexual partners, smoking, history of genital herpes
* Colorectal- Being over 50 with colon polyps or ulcerative colitis, family history of these disorders or colon cancer, high-fat, low-fiber diet
* Leukemia- Exposure to radiation, benzene and other chemicals
* Lung- Smoking (83 percent of cases), exposure to asbestos, radiation and secondhand tobacco smoke
* Lymphoma- Being over 50, no other known risk factors
* Oral- Smoking, chewing tobacco and heavy alcohol use
* Pancreatic- Smoking, high-fat diet
* Prostate- Risk increases with age; more than 80 percent of cases occur after 65
* Skin- Fair skin, severe sunburn in childhood, frequent sun exposure, family history of skin cancer
* Uterine- Being post-menopausal with a history of infertility, ovulation failure or abnormal bleeding, also obesity, hypertension and diabetes

Early Detection
The earlier cancer is detected, the greater the chance it can be treated before it spreads to other areas of the body. That’s why self-examinations (such as checks of the breasts, testicles and skin) are important to build into your routine. And it’s why regular medical screenings (such as mammograms, fecal occult blood tests, Pap smears and prostate exams) are crucial even if you feel perfectly healthy.

More Precise Cancer Treatments
Once, a cancer was a cancer was a cancer. Now, scientists have succeeded in using DNA to determine whether a particular type of cancer will be resistant to certain therapies, paving the way to choosing more effective, tailor-made treatments for patients.

Nutrition and Cancer Patients
A great tasting, nutritious milkshake for cancer patients requiring extra calories in small amounts is made by adding 2 large scoops of ice cream and 1 package of vanilla-flavored Carnation Instant Breakfast to 8 ounces of milk and blending until smooth. 

Orange Zest and Cancer
Don’t toss away that orange peel — it may help protect you against cancer. Grated citrus zest — the outmost layer of the peel, not the white pith — includes compounds may provide health benefits, such as inhibiting development of some cancers and lowering cholesterol. Scrub the rind with warm water and a drop of soap before starting to grate. Press a piece of wax paper onto the grater to make clean-up easier; the zest accumulates on the paper instead of getting stuck in the holes of the grater. Best of all, you can use the zest for a flavor boost in low-fat baked goods, pilafs, salad dressings, marinades and fruit salads. 

Seven Cancer Warning Signs
1. A change in bowel or bladder habits
2. A sore that does not heal
3. Unusual bleeding or discharge
4. Thickening or a lump in the breast or other area
5. Chronic indigestion or swallowing problems
6. An obvious change in a wart or a mole
7. A nagging cough or hoarseness 

Startling Facts About Smoking and Cancer
Eighteen little-known facts about smoking might motivate even a veteran smoker to give up the habit:
1. Cigarette smoke contains tar, made up of over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known to cause cancer.
2. Chemicals in smoke include cyanide (a deadly poison), methanol (wood alcohol), formaldehyde (a preservative), acetylene (fuel used in torches) and ammonia (found in fingernail polish remover). It also contains nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, both poisonous gases.
3. Smokeless tobacco (snuff) exposes a person to at least 10 times more cancer-causing substances than smoking does.
4. Smoking filtered cigarettes lowers the risk of lung cancer by only about 20 percent.
5. Smokers are more likely to get pneumonia than are nonsmokers.
6. Smokers are more likely to have and die from stomach ulcers than are nonsmokers.
7. Smoking causes and worsens heart disease, emphysema, bronchitis, sinusitis, and cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx (voice box), and esophagus (swallowing tube), and increases the risk of bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach and cervical cancers.
8. Women smokers experience earlier menopause and have less dense bones, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis and hip fractures.
9. Children whose parents smoke are at a higher risk for pneumonia and bronchitis.
10. Diseases caused by cigarette smoking kill about one in four smokers.
11. By the time lung cancer is diagnosed, it has usually spread to other parts of the body. The survival rate is low: only 13 percent are still alive five years after diagnosis, fewer than 10 percent after 10 years.
12. Lung cancer now kills more women than any other type of cancer.
13. Smoking takes an average of seven years off a person’s life.
14. Smoking causes one out of every six deaths in the United States.
15. Nine out of ten smokers say they want to quit.
16. More men have quit smoking than women.
17. More than 43 million Americans have quit smoking, and–over the past decade–the percentage of smoking adult Texans has decreased from 31 to 22 percent.
18. Between 1964 and 1985, approximately 750,000 deaths were avoided or postponed as a result of decisions to quit smoking or not to start.
And That’s Not All!
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in America, but it could be prevented 80 to 90 percent of the time if only people would not smoke. 

Tea for Tumors
Research shows one kind of tea can be up to 100 times more potent at blocking growth of cancer cells than another. While all tea (green, oolong or black) contains antioxidant compounds called catechins that protect against cancer (especially of the lung, breast, colon, stomach and skin) by neutralizing free radicals, green tea contains about 7 times more catechins than black tea. Green tea also has unique catechins that block an enzyme involved in breast, prostate and colon cancers. Green tea is 10 to 100 times stronger than black tea in blocking the growth of cancer cells. Catechins also prevent heart disease and stroke, primarily by defending against the harmful effects of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Understanding Blood Counts
Counting and examining blood cells are very important in the diagnosis of blood cell diseases. Blood has several different types of cells in it:
* Red blood cells pick up oxygen as blood passes through the lungs and release it to the cells in the body.
* White blood cells help fight bacteria and viruses.
* Platelets are the cells that form a plug in response to a cut or wound. The platelets aggregate and plug up the site of bleeding.

Normal blood counts fall within the range that has been established by testing healthy men and women of all ages.
The approximate normal ranges of blood cell counts for healthy adults are as follows:
* Red blood cell (RBC) count: 4.5 to 6.0 million red cells per microliter of blood in men, 4.0 to 5.0 million red cells per microliter of blood in women
* White blood cell (WBC) count: 4.5 to 11 thousand white cells per microliter of blood
* Platelet count: 150 to 450 thousand platelets per microliter of blood

Hematocrit is the percent of the blood that is composed of red cells:
* 42% to 50% is normal in men
* 36% to 45% is normal in women

Hemoglobin is the compound in the red blood cell that carries oxygen.
* 14 to 17 grams per 100 milliliters of blood is normal for men
* 12 to 15 grams per 100 milliliters of blood is normal for women

White cell differential count, sometimes referred to as a “diff,” measures the proportion of the total white cell count that is composed of one of the five principal white cell types. The observer can also tell if the white cells in the blood are normal in appearance. The five types of normal white cells that are counted are neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. Blood contains about 60% neutrophils, 30% lymphocytes, 5% monocytes, 4% eosinophils and 1% basophils.

Vitamin E and Cancer
Vitamin E has been found to reduce cancer risk when consumed at recommended levels.                           Want to Quit Smoking?
Most people who quit smoking have tried before, so don’t give up! Try these tips:
* List the reasons you want to quit. Refer to the list every time you want to smoke.
* Typical triggers to smoking include working under pressure, feeling depressed, having a drink, drinking coffee, driving a car, finishing a meal and watching someone else light up a cigarette. Learn to look for these triggers and then avoid them, for example, by cutting down on alcohol and caffeine.
* Reward yourself for not smoking. Spend the money saved from not buying cigarettes on a treat for yourself.
* Keep lots of low calorie snacks handy, including sugarless gum.
* Try taking a few deep breaths when you start to feel stressed.
* Quit smoking with a friend, bet someone you will quit, or get involved with a group having the same goal of quitting.
* Take your mind off smoking by keeping your hands busy with handwork or hobbies.

Watermelon and Cancer Prevention
Juicy, red watermelon is not only delicious, it may help prevent cancer. As long as you spit out the seeds, watermelon is the biggest supplier among fresh fruits and vegetables in the antioxidant lycopene, which is believed to play a big role in the prevention of the killer disease. Antioxidants such as lycopene work in your body by disarming free oxygen radicals, which are thought to contribute to the development of many cancers. A 2-cup serving of watermelon contains 15 – 20 milligrams of this vital plant pigment. Other sources include tomatoes, red grapefruits and guavas

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