Stages of Cancer Demystified and Explained

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There are numerous cancer types, with each having unique symptomatic features that sets it apart from the others. While some cancer forms are curable, others remain incurable and cause death within weeks or months after diagnosis.

Survival rates for each cancer may vary, but it’s often on the lower side for most cancers. In fact, according to a study published in 2011, the survival rate for men with prostate cancer and women with breast cancer was 23 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

Your chances of surviving, or even beating, the cancer increase with an early detection and treatment. Like most other diseases, cancerscan affect anyone irrespective of their age, gender, race, or class.

Although some risk factors are not entirely in our control, there are lifestyle choices that have a bearing on cancer prevention and your chances of surviving it. Smoking, poor diet, drinking, lack of exercise, stress, and a genetic predisposition are among the many factors that lead to cancer. Some cancers, however, are caused by specific agents. One of those cancers is mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It affects the lining of the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Most mesothelioma patients have a history of asbestos exposure, and the cancer starts developing once the person inhales the fibers of the toxic substance.

Fortunately, patients diagnosed with mesothelioma can turn to a mesothelioma law firm and get compensated for their troubles. But, on the other hand, not every cancer progresses in the same vein as mesothelioma, or would require the same treatment options. It’s helpful, therefore, to be aware of the cancer stages and how your health gets affected at every one of those stages, so you can get the right kind of treatment depending on your disease’ progression.

The Different Stages of Cancer

The stage at which the cancer is detected will determine how it needs to be treated. If it’s diagnosed in its early stages, the chances are high that the remission (which is when the tumor starts to reduce in size) can be achieved with proper treatment.

However, if the cancer has spread throughout the body, several rounds of chemotherapy or radiation therapy might be needed.

The process which helps the doctors determine the type and intensity of treatment required for treating a cancer after diagnosis has been made is called staging.

For instance, some cancers can be staged based on whether or not they have metastasized (spread) to the lymph nodes. Others may be staged by counting the number of tumor cells present in a single sample and comparing them with the average cell count of healthy tissues.

Here’s a rundown of the various cancer stages:

1.Stage 0: Non-invasive

Cancer starts to form when normal cells mutate and replicate uncontrollably. These abnormal cells then invade nearby tissues and begin metastasizing. In the stage 0, the cancerous growth cannot be felt or seen under physical examination.

Since the tumor at this stage has not spread beyond its local area, it is termed as non-invasive. The cancer at this stage can go away on its own, provided serious symptoms haven’t yet developed.

2.Stage I: Invasive

In stage 1, the cancerous cells have managed to reach the neighboring layers of tissue, or the deep layers beneath the skin. As the name suggests, invasive cancers can easily spread to other body parts if left untreated.

The tumormay be small initially, but it can grow bigger over time. A doctor would normally recommend a surgical removal of the body part affected. Surgery is considered to be a viable option once the cancer starts spreading rapidly or when it starts affecting areas beyond its immediate location.

 

3. Stage II: Metastatic

In stage 2, the cancerous cells have reached the lymph nodes and other organs. The Stage 2 cancer is extremely dangerous because, in this stage, the cancer can spread to almost any other part of the body.

Initially, you might experience mild symptoms, such as weight loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, etc., but as the disease progresses, the symptoms worsen. A biopsy can confirm the presence of the cancer cells.

4.Stage III: Advanced

Cancer has spread to the distant areas of your body, like the lungs, liver, brain, bones, and adrenal glands, etc.Cancer at this stage is considered advanced and highly progressed. Even though the cancer may have started with a single tumor, at the advanced stage, however, it will have spread to the multiple body parts.

5.       Stage IV: Terminal

The terminal stage is when the cancer invades the bloodstream and even the vital organs, such as the spleen, kidneys, heart, and pancreas, etc., are at risk of shutting down from the cancerous spread. Most patients who reach Stage 4 are usually too weak to undergo extensive surgeries or treatments. A Stage 4 cancer patient may have only a few months to live after diagnosis.

How to Detect Cancer Early?

You should always seek medical attention as soon as you notice any unusual changes in your body. Please do not ignore cancer symptoms since ignoring them can end up costing you your life.

Here are some warning signs that could indicate toward the presence of a cancer:

  • Lumps or bumps on the breasts, armpits, groin, neck, or any other area of the body.
  • Pain in the chest, back, or stomach.
  • Blood in stool or urine.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Unusual bleeding from the nipples.
  • Vomiting blood.
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain.
  • A change in bowel movements.
  • Sores that don’t heal within a week or two.

Cancer can be caused by many things, including smoking, poor diet, and a lack of exercise. While most cancer cases can be prevented, only a few are hereditary. Some people are just more prone to developing cancer than others.

What Causes Cancer?

Several factors can increase your risk for getting a cancer, including:

  • Tobacco use – Tobacco contains harmful chemicals that damage the DNA of the cells and cause mutations.
  • Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths.
  • Radiation exposure, including X-rays, radioactive materials, and UV rays from the sun.
  • Exposure to asbestos, radon gas, arsenic, chromium, nickel, beryllium, cadmium, and vinyl chloride.
  • Poor diet – Eating processed foods which contain artificial ingredients can potentially harm your health.
  • Genetic mutation
  • Lack of physical activity – Sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity and other serious conditions.

Final Words

Cancer is a terrifying word that strikes fear into the hearts of many. Early detection can save patients from cancer progression and increase their survival chances. Knowledge of the cancer stages will help you avoid reckless negligence when any of the signs mentioned above start appearing in your body.

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