Cancer is an abnormal and rapid growth of cells and tissues. It can invade distant tissues or organs. It can produce death if it grows beyond the stage of removal. Cancer is the second leading cause of death. It accounts for 9 per cent of deaths through out the world.
Types of cancer
Cancer can occur at any site or tissue in the body. Common types of cancer are oral cancer, esophageal cancer, cancer cervix, lung cancer, breast cancer etc. Oral cancer is the most common malignant disease in our country. It occurs due to the habit of tobacco chewing and smoking. Cancer cervix is the most common caner in women.
Causes of cancer
The causative agents of cancer vary in different types of cancer. The various agents which cause cancer are:
1. Chemical agents: Aniline dyes, benzamine, asbestos, nickel etc.
2. Physical agents: Gamma rays, x – rays and ultra violet rays.
3. Nutritional agents: Low protein diet associated with vitamin B- deficiency can produce cancer of liver.
4. Mechanical agents: Chronic irritation, friction or trauma can cause cancer.
5. Biological agents: Viruses like hepatitis B virus can cause hepatocellular carcinoma.
6. Contributory factors of the host: The following are the important contributory factors in man which can cause cancer.
i) Age: Incidence of cancer is more in old age. Some cancers like leukemia can occur in the young.
ii) Sex: Breast cancer occurs in women and esophageal cancer occurs in men.
iii) Occupation: Occupational exposure to asbestos produces lung cancer.
iv) Marital status: Cancer of cervix is less in unmarried women.
v) Socio – economic status: Incidence of skin, stomach and cervix cancer is high in poor people.
vi) Customs and habits: Chewing of tobacco and betel produces oral cancer. Smoking produces lung cancer. Hot spicy foods produce oesophagial cancer.
Prevention and control
1. Avoiding known carcinogenic agents like tobacco and alcohol.
2. Personal hygiene can decrease the incidence of cancer e.g cancer cervix.
3. Control of air pollution is an important measure.
4. Health education to create awareness about cancer. The warning signs of cancer are swelling or sore, unexplained weight loss, harness of voice, excessive menstrual bleeding, a lump in the breast etc. By way of health education, people with above symptoms must be motivated for early diagnosis and early treatment.
5. Establishment of cancer detection centers for early diagnosis.
6. Old age persons must be motivated for regular and periodical check up.
7. Provision for after care and rehabilitation of cancer patients.