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What is cancer?

Written by MicroDok

What is cancer?

Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases characterized by the growth of abnormal cells beyond their usual boundaries that can then invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs. Other common terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. Cancer can affect almost any part of the body and has many anatomic and molecular subtypes that each require specific management strategies.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and is estimated to account for 9.6 million death in 2018. Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervix and thyroid cancer are the most common among women.

Cancer Prevention

According to current evidence, between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, including avoiding tobacco products, reducing alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly and addressing infection-related risk factors.

Cancer Management

To reduce the significant disability, suffering and deaths caused by cancer worldwide, effective and affordable programmes in early diagnosis, screening, treatment, and palliative care are needed. Treatment options may include surgery, medicines and/or radiotherapy; treatment planning should be guided by tumour type, stage and available resources and informed by the preference of the patient. Palliative care, which focuses on improving the quality of life of patients and their families, is an essential components of cancer care. Accelerated action is needed to improve cancer care, achieve global targets to reduce deaths from cancer and provide health care for all consistent with universal health coverage.

SOURCE: World Health Organization (WHO)

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