Every person on earth will eventually one day have to leave it behind. It is not the choice of the person whether they go peacefully or whether they go with pain. More often than not a person will go with pain. This is the case with cancer. More and more people die every day from cancer and it appears to ruin the lives of all those associated with it. What people need to understand though is yes cancer is a life altering chain of events but cancer is not the end of the world. Death is inevitable; there is no way around it.
Perhaps cancer patients realize this more than anyone. “All creatures born upon this earth must, in the end, die. Some live long and peaceful lives. But others are caught up in struggles—must fight for their lives” (Silverstein 12-13). This is the case with cancer. Cancer patients will struggle and fight for their lives and not have the luxury of dying peacefully. The cause of cancer is still unknown to scientists but they have been able to come up with some possible explanations. Cancer affects newborn babies, boys, girls, women, men, animals and even plants.
The possible causes of the cancers that affect each of these groups include chemicals in the body, viruses, ultraviolet rays, smoking, and it has been proven to be hereditary in some cases. Many people who develop cancer have had repeated or prolonged contact with one or more of these cancer causing agents (Silverstein 27). With the many different types of cancer it may, for some people, seem impossible for scientists to discover a cure. There are more than one hundred known types of cancer. Scientists are sure there are many more they just have not yet been diagnosed.
The cancers that are most common in women are breast cancer and cancer of the uterus. The cancers that are most common in men are lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Lung cancer kills more than 50,000 men a year. More men are likely to get lung cancer because in general men smoke more than women. Along with these leading cancers among women and men there are several other cancers that are common in both. Cancers of the colon, rectum, and large intestine kill more than 45,000 Americans a year (Altman and Sang 78). With numbers like that a person may begin to wonder if anyone survives the cancer battle.
There are three main ways doctors and scientists detect cancer in a patient. About 50 percent of all cancers start in parts of the body that a physician can routinely examine during an office visit. Even though a doctor may think he or she has come across a cancer he or she has to have further examinations to determine if he or she is right. The three tests that are performed most often are an X-ray technique called mammography, Pap tests, and colonoscopys. For a final diagnosis, on what a doctor has found, a biopsy is conducted (Anderson 56). The sooner cancer is discovered, the better the chance that it can be treated successfully.
If a patient does have cancer and it is caught in the early stages there is a greater chance of a recovery, or remission period. Although cancer is the second biggest killers in this country, in the past five years nearly 3,000,000 people have been successfully cured of the cancer disease (LeShan 98). When a person looks at a statistic like that it can really make them think on how serious and deadly cancer really is. There are three main types of cancer treatment doctors perform with patients. Surgery, radiation therapy, and drug therapy have all proven to be somewhat effective in the battle against cancer.
In most cases a combination of two or three of these methods are used for treatment. Surgery is most often used to treat cancers of the breast, colon, lungs, stomach, and the uterus. Although surgery may not cure the cancer completely it aids in the healing process of patients and may give them a longer time period to live. Radiation therapy involves attacking cancers with X-rays or with rays or particles from radioactive substances. Radiation is most often used to treat cancers in the bladder, cervix, skin, and parts of the head or neck.
Although radiation therapy can be effective it comes with many undesirable side effects. These side effects include; hair loss, not only does it kill cancerous cells it kills normal cells, and it makes the patient weak and susceptible to other viruses. The last forms of treatment doctors often use are to prescribe drug therapy or as it is most commonly known chemotherapy. More than 50 drugs are used to fight various cancers; these drugs have been highly effective in treating leukemia and lymphoma. These anticancer drugs are designed to destroy cancer cells with as little injury to normal cells as possible.
Along with radiation, drug therapy produces many undesirable side effects ranging from nausea to high blood pressure (Auerbach 28-49). Even though these treatments have undesirable side effects many patients would much rather prefer to endure those side effects rather than have to cope with the cancer and the chance of death. Most cancers are treatable if they are detected in the early stages. In fact nearly half of all cancer victims could be saved if they had known they had cancer earlier. Doctors have successfully treated many types of cancer because they caught it before it could run wild.
Using the treatments that were previously listed are the most effective ways cancer patients are treated (Anderson 139). Cancer researchers are searching every day for additional cures for cancer and they have high hopes that one day there will be a cure. Sadly, many people discover they have cancer after it is too late. Doctors are able to prolong the life of the patient to an extent, but that holds no guarantee of how long the patient will live. Cancers ability to spread to other parts of the body makes the disease extremely difficult to treat unless it is detected early.
After cancer reaches the lymph nodes and affects the majority of the cells in the body there is no stopping it. When the cancer reaches these parts it takes over a person’s system and he or she has little chance of survival (Altman & Sarg 143). Knowing a person is at risk will greaten his or her chance of successfully fighting cancer. There are several warning signs of cancer that may save a person’s life. Cancer shows no symptoms in its beginning stages but symptoms may appear before the disease has a chance to spread.
Using these warning signs/symptoms may save a person from becoming another one of cancers helpless victims. If a person has any of these symptoms for a period of two weeks or longer he or she should contact a doctor immediately. Some of these symptoms include; change in bowel or bladder habits, a sore that will not heal, unusual bleeding or discharge, thickening or lumps in the breast or elsewhere, indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, an obvious change in a wart or mole, and the last symptom is a nagging cough or hoarseness (Auerbach 31).
These seven warning signs/symptoms can save many lives if they are taken seriously and a physician is consulted immediately. Scientists may not know right now why cancer affects certain people but they do know that it has nothing to do with age or gender. Cancer is simply the outcome of abnormal cell reproduction that can happen to anyone. This abnormal reproduction can be inherited or caused by a cancer-causing agent. Although cancer does not have a specific target the people who are most susceptible are middle-aged individuals and the elderly.
This is mainly in part because their immune systems are not as strong as younger people and that they have been in contact with many of the cancer causing agents long before anyone knew that these agents could cause cancer. Cancer does not strictly affect men or women; in fact it occurs about equally between the sexes (LeShan 34). Cancer is a huge problem that affects everyone and it will continue to be one until doctors and scientists discover a cure to stop it. In the United States about 8. 4 million Americans alive today have a history of the cancer virus.
These people may be survivors of cancer or may have developed the cancer virus. An estimated one out of every three of these people has been saved from the cancer virus and is now in remission. When comparing this with the early 1900’s, where anyone who had cancer died, cancer research and development has come a long way (Altman & Sang 98). With the hope that cancer research and development will continue to grow the hope that a cure will soon be found will continue to flourish. Almost 552,000 Americans will develop cancer in the next year. Some of these people may be saved where as others will fall victim to the virus and die.
With hopes that these people discover they have cancer early on, the death rate of these people will not rise to extreme heights. Many of these people could have avoided the cancer virus by not smoking, avoiding cancer causing agents, and taking better care of themselves (Silverstein 67). When thought about the majority of these people could have avoided the cancer virus completely or even beat it just by taking an extra step and watching their health and taking note of cancer causes and their symptoms. There are several things a person can do to reduce his or her risks of getting cancer.
Even though these suggestions hold no guarantee that a person who uses them will not get the cancer virus it is the smart way to stay fit and reduce the risk of the development of the disease. These suggestions include; a significant intake of vitamins A, C, and E, eating certain foods such as whole grain breads, cereals, seafood’s, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, and carrots, avoiding a significant contact with cancer causing agents such as Ultraviolet rays, prolonged exposure to the sun, tanning beds, avoiding smoking, and having tests done yearly if cancer is in your family (Auerbach 250).
People who use these suggestions are less likely to develop cancer and will not only be preventing cancer but will be healthy and preventing other life threatening diseases and viruses. There are still many unanswered questions about cancer, its causes, and its effects. Until these questions are all answered there can and will not be a cure. Cancer will go on to affect people in this world as it has for many years. It will alter the lives of every person involved and it will change their lives forever.
The people with cancer are not the only victims; their friends, families, co-workers, or anyone else associated with them are also victims. Sometimes the people who are still here after the cancer patient has passed on are the ones that will suffer more than anyone else. These people are the people who will not stop until there is a cure and this deadly disease is stopped. This may be the only way for them to be assured that their loved ones did not die for any apparent reason, but died to perhaps light the path for further research and development for a cure.
Works Cited Altman, Roberta. The Cancer Dictionary. New York: Fact On File Inc. , 1992. Anderson, Greg. 50 Essential Things to Do When The Doctor Says It’s Cancer. New York: The Penguin Group, 1993. Auerbach, Michael. Conversations About Cancer. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1997. LeShan, Lawrence Ph. D. Cancer As A Turning Point. New York: The Penguin Group, 1989. Silverstein, Alvin & Virginia. Cancer. New York: The John Day Company, 1972. The Mysteriousness of Cancer Biology Paper M. Shipp-Pennock 4/13/2012 By: Brian Rooney.