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June 9, 2022

Cancer according to the World Health Organisation, is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for one in six deaths, in 2020. Cancer manifests in men as lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer while in women it manifests as breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer.

Cancer cells are shaped differently from normal healthy cells and do not function properly. It manifests as tumors and abnormal growth tissues.

As the cancer disease evades complete medical cure and grows globally, it exerts physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals and institutions.

What is cancer?
Cancer is a large group of diseases that occurs when abnormal cells divide rapidly and grow uncontrollably to invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs. Cancer cells drag for space and nutrients while continuing reproduction despite resistance from other cells of the human body.

The field of medicine dedicated to studying cancer and tumor is Oncology.

Benign and Malignant Cancers
A tumor is said to be benign or noncancerous when it grows slowly and does not spread while malignant tumors or cancerous are when the tumors grow rapidly invading and destroying nearby tissues thereby spreading throughout the body.

The causes of cancer
Scientists have not been able to isolate a single cause of cancer but it is believed that it is a result of the interaction of several factors. Mutations of body cells or changes to the body DNA may be due to genetic, environmental and compositional factors of an individual but it is generally not contagious.

Preventing Cancer
The WHO said a significant death due to cancer is preventable, up to 30% and 50% of cancer deaths can be avoided by early detection and management of patients, change in lifestyle and adopting confirmed and approved prevention strategies. Prevention is the most cost-effective approach to stalling cancer in its growth path.

Key risk factors
Here are key risk factors that can be adopted to prevent cancer:
  • avoid tobacco use, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • exercise regularly
  • limit alcohol use
  • practice safe sex 
  • get vaccinated against hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation
  • prevent unnecessary ionizing radiation exposure (e.g. minimize occupational exposure, ensure safe and appropriate medical use of radiation in diagnosis and treatment)
  • avoid urban air pollution and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels
  • get regular medical care
  • some chronic infections are also risk factors for cancer. People in low- and middle-income countries are more likely to develop cancer through chronic infections.

In conclusion
33% of cancer deaths are caused by smoking, alcohol intake, high body mass index(BMI), low intake of fruits and vegetables and reduced physical activities

It is important to reduce your risk of exposure to cancer by making healthy choices like eating right, staying active and not smoking. You also have to follow recommended screening guidelines, which can help detect certain cancers early.