By Anastasis Panagopoulos, Hara Tsilimigra & Myriam Shoumaf
In today’s world, there is an increasingly large number of people who suffer from cancer. This disease, being one of the deadliest occurring in the human population, leads to about 8.8 million deaths a year (15.7% of the total number of deaths). Having cancer can heavily influence one’s life negatively and that’s why a lot of initiatives are being taken to eliminate that illness.
There are numerous causes of cancer. Tobacco smoking is a leading cause, accounting for about 22% of cancer deaths. Another 10% of deaths are due to obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, as well as excessive drinking and alcohol. The place of residence of one person and its hygiene conditions largely matter, as 20% of the cancers in the developing world are because of infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human papillomavirus infection. Additionally, bad air quality in one’s place of residence or occupation as well as DNA mutations can largely increase the chances of someone getting the disease. Although all those risk factors should be taken into account, scientists have yet to completely understand the causes of cancer, mainly due to the fact that cancer can be observed in numerous form and parts of the human body.
The most common type of cancer is Non-melanoma skin cancer, which mostly occurs in skin parts that are exposed to the sun, affecting more than 1 million people every year. It is followed by lung cancer, which causes 160,000 deaths annually and is the deadliest type of the disease. The chances of getting cancer heavily depend on one’s sex. By far the most common cancer in women is breast cancer, which affects about 195,000 women each year. The male “equivalent”, prostate cancer, affects about 192,000 men every year and mainly occurs in men over 50 years old. Next, colorectal and bladder cancer, the cancers of the colon and the bladder, respectively cost thousands of lives and occur in people of all genders and ages. Other common forms of this deadly disease are melanoma, a type of skin cancer, as well as kidney cancer. Moreover, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, together with leukemia are blood cancers that are commonly found.
Treating cancer can be very difficult. One of the most common methods is Chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill cancer cells, in order to cure or stop the growth of cancer, as well as to ease the symptoms of cancer. Chemotherapy can have side effects, such as fatigue or hair loss. Another common method is radiation therapy which uses x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy may also cause fatigue after a treatment session. Hormone therapy and Immunotherapy use hormones and one’s immune system to fight the disease. Some of the most serious types of cancer are treated with surgery, in which the surgeon removes the cancer from one’s body. However, even though there exist so many methods to combat cancer, some types are incurable, while the procedures above do not always succeed.
Cancer can cause physical and mental strain to its victims. That is why we all need to actively support the efforts of cancer patients to recover from their disease by donating to organizations that help such people, as well as contribute in raising public awareness over the topic. A healthy lifestyle, combined with regular tests can critically lower the possibilities of getting the disease. We all have to understand that cancer might occur in each of us and our beloved ones and that taking action isn’t something unimportant or unnecessary. Also, donating to scientific research can effectively change the numbers of cancer survivors and provide for a long-lasting and healthier life of such people.
To sum up, cancer is a deadly disease that can largely vary in type and treatment required, which affects the lives of millions of people each year and deteriorates the lives of many more. To fight against it, an active community of engaging citizens is the only way to effectively eliminate it.