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Most of us have friends or family who has been affected by cancer. The disease not only affects the person who has cancer, but also their loved ones. The best line of defense is to learn more. Read on about more common cancers and how you can lower your risk or identify warning signs.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer can start any place in the body. It starts when cells grow out of control and crowd out normal cells. This makes it hard for the body to work the way it should. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are 5 major types of cancer - carcinoma, sarcoma, melanoma, lymphoma, and leukemia. While the disease typically originates in the organ or cell in which they start, cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph nodes.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cancer?
Symptoms vary depending on the type and location of the disease. Lung cancer, for example, can cause coughing, shortness of breath, or chest pain, whereas those suffering from colon cancer often experience diarrhea, constipation, and blood in the stool.
Some cancers have little or no symptoms; others, such as pancreatic cancer, typically display symptoms once the disease has reached an advanced stage. Fortunately, there are tests that can detect early stages of some cancers. All tests listed below require a physician order with the exception of screening mammograms.
How Can Cancer Be Detected?
- Chest x-ray
- Blood tests (which look for chemicals in the form of tumor markers)
- Bone marrow biopsy (for lymphoma or leukemia)
- Fecal occult blood test (hemoccult)
- Computed tomography (CT scan)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan)
What Can I Do To Lower My Risk Of Cancer?
You can take steps today to lower your risk for cancer by:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Limit alcohol
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Minimize your exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco
- Reduce sun exposure and wear sunscreen
- Visit your physician regularly
Learn more about which cancer screenings are right for you.
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