The body is made up of trillions of cells, each one vital for maintaining a healthy and functioning body. When these cells become damaged or abnormal due to break down in the cell division process, they can start growing uncontrollably until there’s no room left. This usually leads to cancerous tumours containing both healthy material along with extra cellular materials. However not all tumours are created equal. Some tumours could actually be malignant which is not as serious as tumours that metastasis to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
In order to raise awareness for world cancer day, we will be looking at the different types of cancers. With the amount of global cancer diagnoses on a yearly basis it’s important that people are aware of the types of cancer and the risks involved.
Top five most common types of cancers according to the World Health Organisation
- Breast cancer – this is a serious disease that affects the breast. There are different types of breast cancers depending on which cells turn into tumours, or cancerous growths.
- Lung cancer – this cancer starts in the lungs and can spread to the lymph nodes and other organs.
- Colon and rectum cancer – like many cancers this cancer starts in the colon and the rectum and is often times mistaken for the same thing because of its similarities. This type of cancer is known to spread without warning, meaning people only find out that they have this cancer when it has already progressed.
- Prostate cancer – the prostate is a small walnut-sized gland in men that produces some fluid for semen. It can also grow out of control, which can lead to cancerous cells developing there.
- Skin Cancer (non-melanoma) – Skin cancer is a disease that can occur on any part of your body, but it most often starts to form where there’s been extensive exposure to sunlight.
What are the leading causes for cancer?
- Leading an unhealthy lifestyle e.g. smoking, excessive use of tobacco products.
- Unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity.
- Viruses and other infections such as Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
The two components of early detection are down staging and screening. Early diagnosis or down staging focuses on detecting symptomatic patients as soon as possible, while screening focuses on watching out for otherwise healthy individuals who might have cancer without knowing it.
For more information or resources on this topic, please contact:
The Cancer Association of South Africa
0800 22 6622/ 072 197 9305
For English and Afrikaans
071 867 3530
For isiXhosa, isiZulu, siSwati, Sesotho and Setswana