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       Cancer: its causes and symptoms  

Cancer is a disease in which the body cells divide without control and are able to enter other tissues. Cancer cells can move to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

What happens when normal cells become cancer cells?

The body cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. When they become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells.

Sometimes this systematic process is impaired and DNA of the cell can become damaged or changed, producing mutations which bring abnormal growth and division of cell. When this happens, the body cells do not die and more new cells are formed.

The extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor which can be Benign or Malignant. Benign tumors are not cancerous as their cells do not enter other tissues. Benign tumors can often be removed permanently.

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Malignant tumors are cancerous and their cells enter other tissues. The spreading of cancer cells from one part of the body to the other is termed as metastasis.

Symptoms of Cancer

Cancer symptoms can be divided into three categories:

  • Local symptoms: presence of tumor (unusual swelling), bleeding (hemorrhage), pain and/or ulceration. surrounding tissues are compressed and may cause symptoms such as jaundice.

  • Symptoms of metastasis: enlargement of lymph nodes, cough and coughing of blood or blood-stained sputum (hemoptysis),  enlarged liver (hepatomegaly), bone pain, fracture of affected bones and neurological symptoms.

  • Systemic symptoms: cachexia (weight loss, poor appetite, fatigue and muscle atrophy ), excessive sweating (night sweats), anemia (decrease in normal number of RBC) and specific conditions that are due to an active cancer, such as thrombosis (formation of blood clot inside the blood vessel) or hormonal changes.

The above symptom can be caused by different conditions.

Types of Cancer and Treatment

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Last updated on Friday January 25, 2013