Listen to this article
World Cancer Day, which falls on February 4, is the day when people from across the globe come together to raise awareness of cancer. It is a public health issue and governments in different countries are trying to control it. Yes, even thinking about cancer can be frightening, but having knowledge about it is the way to go. So, read on to know about the most common types of cancer in women and how to lower the risks associated with these types of cancer.
HealthShots got in touch with Dr Tejinder Kataria, chairperson, Radiation Oncology and Cancer Center, Medanta – The Medicity, Gurugram, to know about common cancers in women.
There are over 200 types of cancer that can affect women as well as men.
• Breast cancer
• Lung cancer
• Colon cancer
• Cervical cancer
Dr Kataria says that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, followed by colon cancer, which also known as colorectal cancer, lung cancer and cervical cancer.
Lung cancer is considered to be the most lethal cancer, leading to 21 percent deaths in the affected people globally, according to the World Cancer Research Fund International. Breast cancer is the cause of 15 percent mortality followed by 8 percent deaths due to colon cancer.
Going by the name, if someone has lung cancer either one or both lungs will be affected. But it may also involve the lymph glands within the chest or even neck. Sometimes in advanced stage, there may be involvement of some of the bones or brain, says the expert.
Breast cancer affects one or both breasts and may travel to lymph glands in the underarm leading to swelling. Breast cancer can even spread to lungs, bones, brain and liver in late stages.
It involves the large intestine and can spread to liver, lungs and/or brain in advanced stage.
It affects the mouth of the uterus and it may spread to the vagina or urinary bladder, rectum and may involve lymph glands in the vicinity of uterus or abdomen.
There may be persistent cough for more than three weeks, breathlessness, non-resolving fever, blood in sputum, headache or body ache in case it has spread to other organs and even weight loss.
A swelling or nodule in the breast or a swelling in the arm pit could mean that you have breast cancer. There may be pulling up or change in the nipple texture or bleeding or discharge from the nipple.
In case of colon cancer, there may be alternating constipation and diarrhoea. Pain and bleeding while passing stool are also some of the signs of the cancer (tests to diagnose colon cancer).
Intermittent bleeding, bleeding after sex, difficulty in passing urine or stool are some of the signs of cervical cancer that you should be aware of.
Dr Kataria says cancer may mimic signs and symptoms of other diseases, so you need to be extra-vigilant about the persistent symptoms beyond three weeks that are affecting you.
The risk of lung cancer can be reduced by quitting smoking as tobacco is the single most important factor responsible for lung cancer (how to quit smoking). Another factor is pollution, so planting more trees can help in a great way. This will do good to you and others as well.
How many times have we heard people promoting healthy diet? Too many times, and to prevent colon cancer, a diet rich in fiber with fruits and vegetables, and grains is recommended. Women with a family history of the disease are at a high risk and it is recommended for them to have annual colonoscopy beyond the age of 50 years, says the expert.
Maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding smoking and working out are the antidotes to obesity, which is a known factor for increasing the risk of breast cancer.
To prevent cervical cancer, vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) is recommended for girls between 9-26 years. Also, try to avoid having sex with multiple people.
Track your Menstrual health using
Healthshots Period tracker