Cancer is a disease that starts within our cells. Our bodies are made up of millions of cells, and they group together in order to form tissues and muscles, such as bones and muscles. There is a common misconception that cancer is just one disease; this isn’t the case.
But, how many types of cancer are there?
There are more than 100 types of cancer that are characterized by abnormal cell growth.? There are numerous different causes, ranging from chemicals to viruses to radiation. Often times, an individual has varying degrees of control over the exposure to cancer-causing agents.
Below, we will take a closer look at the first four commonly recognized types of cancer and their causes:
Colon cancer is cancer that is located in the large intestine, also known as the colon, which is the lower part of the digestive system. What happens to the cells during colon cancer is the cysts begin as small, benign clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time, it is these polyps that become colon cancer.
Common early stage symptoms of colon cancer include the following:
- Weakness or fatigue
- Blood in stools or rectal bleeding
- Change in bowel habits that lasts more than four weeks
- Unexplained weight loss
- Continuous abdominal discomfort
In most cases, there is not a clear cause of colon cancer. But, there are some connections in rare cases.
There are inherited gene mutations that can increase the risk of colon cancer and are only connected to a small percentage of colon cancers. There are also studies that have shown the association between the typical Western diet and an increased risk of colon cancer because the diet is high in fat and low in fibre.
When discussing the different types of cancers and symptoms, skin cancer isn’t the one that comes top of mind. This disease is a common and locally destructive malignant growth of the skin. It stems from the cells that line up along the membrane where the superficial layer skin separates from the deeper layers. Numerous types of skin cancers have limited opportunity to spread to additional parts of the body and become life-threatening.
The most common risk factors for skin cancer are ultraviolet light exposure, from tanning beds or from the sun; a suppressed immune system from diseases such as HIV/AIDS; and exposure to chemicals such as arsenic or ionizing radiation, such as those from X-rays.
Some signs and symptoms of different types of skin cancer include the following:
- Open sores that won’t go away for weeks
- Raised growths with a rough surface that is indented in the centre
- Shiny pink, red, pearly, or translucent bump
- White, yellow, or waxy area with a poorly outlined that could resemble a scar
There are three primary types of skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma – This typically occurs on those parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, such as the neck or face.
Squamous cell carcinoma – This too occurs on parts of the body exposed to the sun, such as hands and ears. However, people with darker skin have a propensity to develop this cancer on skin that is not normally exposed to the sun.
Melanoma – Melanomas can appear anywhere on the skin or even in an existing mole. In women, melanomas typically appear on the leg. In men, melanomas appear on the face or trunk. They can appear on skin that is not exposed to the sun too.
This is likely one of the most recognized types of cancers as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in a number of countries worldwide, so information is everywhere.? Most often, breast cancer originates in the cells that line the ducts, which are tubes that carry milk from the glands to the nipple. It can also start in the cells of the lobules, which are the glands that make milk.
The most common signs and symptoms in the earlier stage are:
- Discharge from the nipple that has blood in it
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Discharge that comes out of the nipple without squeezing it
- Lump found in the armpit
- Change to the nipple, such as one that suddenly begins to point inward
Breast cancer is perhaps the most common cancer diagnosed in women after skin cancer. Note that though breast cancer is more common in women it can occur in men too. It is estimated that five to ten per cent of breast cancers are linked to gene mutations passed hereditarily. Numerous inherited mutated genes that can lead to breast cancer have been identified; BRCA1 and BRCA2 being the most well-known.
Late symptoms of breast cancer can include nausea, loss of appetite, double vision, headache, bone pain, weight loss, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, or jaundice
There is no clear origin of what causes breast cancer; although, researchers have identified lifestyle, hormonal and environmental factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer. It is likely that it is caused by a complicated interaction between the environment and the individual?s makeup.
Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both women and men worldwide. Like other types of cancers, lung cancer is a result of an abnormality in a body’s cell. The disruption of the body’s system checks and balances on cell growth is what causes the uncontrolled division and generation of cells that will eventually turn into a tumour.
A most common cause of lung cancer is cigarette smoking, with nearly 90% of this type of cancer arises as a result of tobacco use. Other factors include exposure to second-hand smoke, radon gas, asbestos fibres, or diesel emissions.
The signs and symptoms of lung cancer differ, but some of the common ones are wheezing, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, and difficulty swallowing.
Clinically, lung cancer is divided into two major types: small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. This is determined on the basis of an examination of cancer cells under a microscope. Treatment will depend on which type of lung cancer you have.
Small cell lung cancer – Less common that non-small cell lung cancer and usually found in heavy smokers only.
Non-small cell lung cancer – A broad term capturing several types of lung cancers, including large cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.