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What are the different types of cancer and their causes? [Part Two]

As noted in part one of the different types of cancer and their causes, cancer is not just one disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States and makes up nearly within the country and about 1 of every 6 deaths globally. That is more than all deaths caused by malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined.

The latest figures (from 2018) point to 17 million cases of cancer being diagnosed worldwide, with nearly 10 million cancer deaths. These numbers are expected to rise to 27 million and 16 million, respectively, by 2040.

Below, we continue to take a closer look at the final four common different types of cancer and their causes:

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a disease that only affects males. Cancer begins to grow in the prostate, which is a gland found in the male reproductive system. This cancer is a very slow progressing disease. Several studies have shown that nearly 80% of all men in their eighties die of old age without knowing they had prostate cancer.

There are no typical symptoms in the early stages of prostate cancer. When the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer do occur, they are usually one of the following:

  • Urinates more often
  • Hard to start urinating
  • Urination might be painful
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bone pain, often in the spine

As with most other types of cancers, there are no specific causes of prostate cancer. Out of the many possible factors, genetics, lifestyle, medications, age and race are of the highest risk.

Treatment for prostrate cancer depends on how fast it is growing, how much it has spread and your overall health. Treatment options include surgical removal of the prostrate, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, freezing prostrate tissue, and the relatively new biological therapy treatment.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The two ovaries that women have are located on either side of the uterus and are about the size of an almond. They produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and eggs. This type of cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the abdomen and pelvis.

The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer can include the following:

  • Weight loss
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Swelling or bloating or the abdominal area
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Frequent need to urinate

While the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are noticeable, it is not clear what causes ovarian cancer. In a general sense, cancer begins when a genetic mutation that turns normal cells into those that are cancerous. Determining the type of ovarian cancer you may have is based on the type of cell where cancer begins.

But, how many types of ovarian cancer are there?

Stromal tumours

These tumours begin in the ovarian tissue where the hormone-producing cells are held. Nearly 7% of ovarian tumours are stromal.

Epithelial tumours

These tumours begin in the thin layer of tissue that protects the ovaries. Approximately 90% of all ovarian cancers are epithelial tumours.

Germ cell tumours

The final type of ovarian cancer begins within the egg-producing cells. This rare type of cancer tends to happen in younger women.

Ovarian cancer treatment options include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation and surgery. There are a number of surgical options – total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes), salpingo-oophorectomy (removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes on one or both sides), surgical debulking and cystectomy.

Brain Cancer

Brain cancer is a group of abnormal cells that grow and become a mass of cells, more commonly known as a tumour.

The primary brain tumours are gliomas, primitive neuroectodermal, CNS lymphomas, meningiomas pituitary adenomas, and vestibular schwannomas. These tumours are named after the type of brain cell or the part of the brain which they arise.

These can further be categorized into a grading system, introduced by the National Cancer Institute, based on the pace the cells are growing. The grades refer to the following:

  • Grade I: the tissue is benign and the cell growth is slow
  • Grade II: the tissue is malignant and the cells look less normal than they did in the previous stage
  • Grade III: the malignant tissue looks different from normal cells and the cells are actively growing
  • Grade IV: the malignant tissue has cells that visibly look abnormal and grow at an aggressive rate

The exact cause of brain tumours is unknown, but there are possible risk factors to consider. These factors include radiation to the head, HIV infection, environmental toxins, and hereditary risks. The most common signs and symptoms of brain cancer are muscle weakness, headaches, clumsiness, paresthesias, seizures, and difficulty walking with fatigue and weakness in the legs and arms.

Brain cancer treatment depends on the size, type and location of the brain tumor, the patient’s age and health. Treatment options include surgery to remove the tumor, Gamma Knife, radiation therapy, chemotherapy radiation and brachytherapy.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer typically originates in two parts of the kidney: the renal trouble and the renal pelvis. Most cancers that originate in the renal tubule are renal cell carcinoma or clear cell adenocarcinoma. The kidney cancers that originate in the renal pelvis are transitional cell carcinoma.

Signs and symptoms of kidney cancer do not usually appear in the earlier stage. But in the later stages, you may experience the following:

  • Lump or mass in the back, near the kidneys
  • Blood in the urine
  • Lump in the abdomen
  • Continuous pain near kidneys
  • Constant fever and night sweats
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Anaemia
  • Fatigue or tiredness

Risk factors of renal cell carcinoma, which is the most common type of kidney cancer, include age, where risk factors significantly heighten after 60 years old; sex, where the ratios of diagnosis are 3:2 for men to women respectively; obesity, where the risk increases for those who are obese; hypertension; and workers exposed to chemicals such as asbestos, cadmium and trichloroethylene.

Kidney cancer can be treated through surgical methods – radical or partial nephrectomy – laparoscopy, radiofrequency ablation, cryoblation, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

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