Cancer symptoms, treatment and prevention information

Cancer is a devastating and potentially fatal disease caused by the rapid, uncontrolled growth of malignant cells in a particular area of the body. Metastatic cancer occurs when malignant cells in one area of the body spread to another.

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There are many different types of cancer, each with its own symptoms, treatment and prognosis. In addition, there are various stages of cancer, indicating the pervasiveness of the malignant cells. Stage I cancer is localized and relatively small, while stage IV cancer has metastasized. No matter the type of cancer, early detection (at or before stage I) and treatment is essential to a positive outcome. Cancer treatment varies according to the type and stage of cancer, but may include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, as well as boosting the immune system through diet, exercise and alternative health measures.

Kidney and Liver and Bladder Cancers

The kidney, liver and urinary tract work together to filter toxins and waste from the body. Cancer can originate in these organs or spread to them via metastasis. In the case of liver cancer, it has most often spread from another source. For this reason, it can be difficult to diagnose secondary liver cancer because the symptoms are determined by the primary source. (For example, secondary liver cancer originating in the lungs will act like lung cancer, not liver cancer.)

Kidney cancer, on the other hand, usually refers to cancer originating in the kidney. There are two kidney cancer types: renal cell carcinoma and urothelial cell carcinoma of the renal pelvis. It is important to distinguish between the two because their staging and treatment are very different. Urothelial cell carcinoma (also called transitional cell carcinoma) can also infect the bladder and is the most common form of bladder cancer.

Cervical and Prostate Cancers

The cervix and prostate are parts of the female and male reproductive system, respectively. Cancers affecting these organs can be difficult to detect because symptoms don't occur until the later stages, or sometimes not at all. In both cases, regular screening can help identify the cancer. Cervical cancer may be detected by a pelvic exam or Pap smear, and prostate cancer may be identified during a physical exam or by a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.

Breast Cancer

Though far more common in women than men, breast cancer can affect both sexes. There are many different kinds of breast cancer, and treatment and prognosis vary greatly depending on the type and stage. In almost all cases, however, early detection increases the chance of survival, so many awareness campaigns have been designed to alert women to early breast cancer signs and encourage them to get regular mammograms and perform breast self-examinations in order to catch the disease early on.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is actually better termed colorectal cancer, since it can affect the bowel, rectum and even the appendix. Sudden changes in bowel habits, such as inexplicable, persistent constipation, diarrhea or abdominal pain, tend to be the first signs of colon cancer. As with other types of cancer, however, symptoms may not appear until the cancer is advanced, so screening is the best bet for early detection.

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