What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease where abnormal cells in the body begin to grow, divide and reproduce in an uncontrollable way. These abnormal cells then invade and destroy healthy tissue, including organs.
Symptoms of cancer can include fever, extreme tiredness, unexplained weight loss, blood clots, lumps, pain, itching, skin changes (such as darker-looking skin, yellowish skin and eyes, and reddened skin), excessive hair growth, changes in bowel habits, and sores that do not heal.
Other symptoms can include white patches inside the mouth or white spots on the tongue, blood in the stool, blood in the phlegm, unusual vaginal bleeding, and a bloody discharge from the nipple.
There is no single cause for any one type of cancer. However, causes of cancer can include smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight, viruses or bacterial infection.
Other causes can include ageing, genetic makeup, your immune system, transplanted organs, the sun, and workplace hazards such as asbestos, natural and man-made radiation, and other factors.
A diagnosis of cancer can be based upon an individual’s symptoms, physical examination results, and screening test results. Also, if you suffer an injury of some kind, cancer can be detected through abnormalities brought to light through an x-ray.
Effect on your life
Being diagnosed with cancer can be an extremely shocking and emotional experience. Most people immediately see the blackest scenario.
Through consultations you will be encouraged to ask any questions, even if you fear they may seem trivial to someone else. Cancer nurse specialists are attuned to responding to your questions and will understand your needs.
If possible, it is advisable to take someone who is emotionally strong with you to your consultations, to act as a support.
Cancer will obviously have an enormous impact on your life. But the good news is that, for many people, there is life after cancer.
Cancer treatments include chemotherapy (a general term for treatments that use chemical agents/drugs that kill cancer cells), radiotherapy (high-energy radiation treatment) and surgery (normally an operation to remove cancerous growths, tissues or organs).
Initially, you may undergo a minor operation called a biopsy – where a few cancer cells are taken for analysis.
Advice & Support
Cancer Research UK
Tel. 020 7121 6699, 020 7242 0200
Tel. Helpline 0808 800 1234 (freephone)
Tel. 020 7739 2280 (standard rate)
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