Today is World Cancer Day. Cancer occurs as a result of genetic mutations where abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way and may spread to other tissues. There are 5 main types of cancer groups. These are:
- Carcinoma – Cancer that starts in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs
- Sarcoma – Cancer that begins in bone, fat, muscle or blood vessels
- Leukaemia – Cancer that starts in bone marrow
- Lymphoma and Myeloma – Cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system
- Brain and Spinal Cord cancers
Cancers are generally classified according to where they start in the body such as lung cancer or breast cancer.
There are many factors in our life that can lead to an increased risk of cancer. These include:
- Poor diet – Red meat, burnt food, low fibre, N-nitroso compounds (e.g. cured meats), refined sugars, dairy, table salt, pesticides and aspartame
- Genetic factors/family history – BRCA gene
- Chronic inflammation – Gastritis, Irritable Bowel Disease, etc.
- Radiation – Phones, medical, environmental, etc.
- Drugs and Cosmetics
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
- Excess alcohol
Symptoms can vary depending on the location of the cancer. The most important thing is knowing your body. If you notice a change, go see your doctor as spotting cancer early means that treatment will more likely be successful. Some signs and symptoms include:
- A lump
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Persistent heartburn or indigestion
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Changes in bowel movements i.e. looser stools
- Appetite loss
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood in your stools
- A new mole or changes to an existing mole i.e. colour or shape
There are numerous tests for cancers, ranging from blood tests to ultrasounds to biopsies. The UK currently has 3 screening programmes:
- Bowel cancer screening – Offered to men and women aged 60-74 in England and 50-74 in Scotland
- Cervical cancer screening – Offered to women aged 25-64 in England and 20-60 in Scotland
- Breast cancer screening – Offered to women aged 50-70
Treatment will be individualised depending on type and severity of the disease. Conventional treatment aims to remove or reduce the cancer. These include:
- Surgery – Removal of tumour, surrounding tissue and lymph nodes
- Chemotherapy – Targets rapidly dividing cells
- Radiotherapy – Aims to stop cancer cell reproduction
- Drug treatment – Includes hormones, Biologic Response Modifiers and Analgesics
Complementary treatment can help support medical treatment for cancer and help to prevent the risk of developing cancer in the first place. It is always best to seek the advice of a qualified nutritional therapist in combination with your doctor as some complementary treatments can interact with drugs. Some alternative treatment options include:
- Nutrition – Phytonutrients, antioxidants, fibre, anti-inflammatory foods, whole plant foods, cutting out refined sugar, etc.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
How Can I Support Cancer Research?
There are lots of ways to help support cancer research and people suffering from cancer:
- Cancer Research UK have brought out Unity Bands. The money raised will go towards research to help beat cancer (I’ve ordered mine. I can’t wait for it to arrive!)
- Macmillan Cancer Support hold The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning which asks members of the public to host their own coffee mornings with the donations being given to Macmillan who provide medical, emotional, practical and financial support for cancer sufferers
- The Little Princess Trust is a charity which makes wigs for children and young adults who have lost their hair to cancer. Members of the public can donate their hair to be made into wigs
- Many of these charities hold races and other events to help raise funds and opportunities to volunteer
Remember that there is support out there for people who are dealing with cancer from charities, doctors and even friends and family. Also, always keep an eye on your body. If something doesn’t seem right, go get it checked out. It’s better to get it checked out and it be nothing rather than ignore it and for something to be wrong.
For more information, visit: