According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally, involving 10 million deaths in 2020 alone.
Humanity has had a fair share of various health conditions, ranging from mild diseases to life-threatening ones. As life evolves and the medical industry paves its path, fatal health conditions today are diagnosed, researched, and treated more appropriately, thanks to medical advancements.
In this article, you'll take a look into cancer, which is one of the world's significant health burdens. This way, you’ll be aware since you’ll learn the diagnoses, statistics, types, treatment methods, and prevention.
What Is Cancer?
Your body consists of trillions of cells, each of which have its own biological function to keep you alive and healthy. When old, unhealthy, or abnormal cells grow, they usually die inside your body, while the healthy cells resume their work. When these cells don't die as usual, grow uncontrollably, and crowd out normal cells, cancer grows.
From the part where it started, called the primary site, cancer cells can spread to the remaining parts of the body. Perhaps this is the most frightening aspect of the disease–where it attempts to corrupt other healthy cells living inside your body. Cancerous cells can travel through the lymphatic system or bloodstream.
How Is Cancer Diagnosed?
Diagnosing cancer in its early stages is crucial to your treatment and survival. If you undergo a general health examination once to twice a year, your doctor may help you find out your cancer risks and symptoms early on.
On the other hand, if you're experiencing these common signs of cancer, you should immediately consult your physician:
Bruises and sores that don't heal
Changes in the skin
Weight loss without trying
Changes in appetite
Cough or hoarseness that doesn't disappear
With numerous medical technologies available today, detecting and confirming cancer in patients has never been easier. After the health examination, physicians may instruct lab tests that offer more accuracy.
Moreover, patients should undergo imaging tests as their first line of defense. Various imaging tests, such as a full-body scan, generate pictures of the different parts of your body to find tumors. Continue reading this to find out more imaging examinations.
Terrifying Statistics About Cancer
How serious is cancer? To answer the main question of this discussion, let's examine some statistics to know if cancer is indeed the leading illness globally.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally, involving 10 million deaths in 2020 alone. Lung, colon, rectum, liver, stomach, and breast cancer are the usual types of cancer that cause death.
Meanwhile, coronary heart disease is the world's deadliest disease, characterized by the narrowing of the heart arteries, leading to a heart attack. Coronary or ischemic heart disease is classified under cardiovascular diseases (CVD), which is the main cause of death worldwide, covering 15.5% of total illness deaths.
Coming at 11.1% of deaths worldwide, stroke, which is also accounted for the most long-term disabilities, is the second leading cause of death.
After stroke comes the lower respiratory infection, with 5.7% of global casualties. Lower respiratory diseases involve pneumonia, tuberculosis, bronchitis, and influenza. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is another respiratory system-related condition, comes in fourth place at 5.6%.
Finally, respiratory cancers, which is the most common type of cancer, takes the fifth spot with 3% of global deaths. This type of cancer doesn’t only refer to lung cancer as the cells may also multiply in the bronchus, larynx, and trachea.
Looking at these statistics, it's evident that only lung cancer gets on the list. In the United States alone, the American Cancer Society has diagnosed 235,760 new cases in 2021, along with 131,880 deaths from lung cancer, which are already some surprising numbers.
Types of Cancer
Although lung cancer is notorious for people diagnosed with cancer, it's still worth knowing about other more common cancer types that are a considerable health threat to the healthcare system and the public.
Therefore, here are common cancers and some signs and symptoms to note.
Mostly occurring in women, breast cancer involves the cells on the breast growing abnormally. The suspected tumor can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Globally, breast cancer is the leading cause of death in the women population, accounting for 25% of all cancer cases.
Here are some signs of breast cancer:
Lump or mass in the breast or areas surrounding it
Breast or nipple pain
Unusual nipple discharge