Taking place under the tagline ‘We can. I can.’, World Cancer Day 2017 explores how everyone can play their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. World Cancer Day is a chance to reflect on what you can do, and vow to make healthy lifestyle choices. Here’s all you need to know about this deadly disease.
Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. It harms the body when altered cells divide uncontrollably to form lumps or masses of tissue called tumors (except in the case of leukemia). Tumors can grow and interfere with the digestive, nervous, and circulatory systems, and they can release hormones that alter body function. Cancerous tumors are malignant, which means they can spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. In addition, as these tumors grow, some cancer cells can break off and travel to distant places in the body through the blood or the lymph system and form new tumors far from the original tumor. Benign tumors do not spread into, or invade, nearby tissues, but remain in position and grow in large sizes.
Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways that allow them to grow out of control and become invasive. Cancer cells are also often able to evade the immune system and ignore signals that normally tell cells to stop dividing.
Cancer is a genetic disease—that is, it is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide. Genetic changes that cause cancer can be inherited from our parents. They can also arise during a person’s lifetime as a result of errors that occur as cells divide or because of damage to DNA caused by certain environmental exposures. Cancer-causing environmental exposures include substances, such as the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and radiation, such as ultraviolet rays from the sun.
There are more than 100 types of cancer. Types of cancer are usually named for the organs or tissues where the cancers form. These are some of the most common types of cancer:
Your risk of developing cancer can be substantially reduced by healthy behavior. This includes stopping the use of tobacco, getting sufficient physical activity, eating healthy foods, participating in cancer screenings, preventing obesity, getting sufficient sleep, reducing your exposure to toxins and getting vaccinated against the Human Papilomavirus (HPV).
The most common treatments for cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Surgery can be used to take out the cancer. The doctor might also take out some or all of the body part the cancer affects.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or slow their growth.
Radiation is also used to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. It can be used alone or with surgery or chemotherapy.
‘There is a CAN in CANCER because we can beat it!’
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