Simply put, cancer is a condition where cells in a particular part of the body multiply at an uncontrolled rate, often forming tumours and invading other parts of the body due to this accelerated cell formation. There is, however, nothing simple about the disease itself. Sometimes triggered by lifestyle causes, sometimes by genetics, and sometimes by untraceable causes, this disease leaves us curious about who can be at risk.
Awareness plays a key role in controlling the disease by catching it early on and treating it in the early stages. Here’s a list of the most common forms of cancer in India and a few causes that contribute that you should know about.
Common Types of Cancer in Women
Cancer can attack any part of the body. Going by statistics though, women are noted to be more prone to:
Breast cancer – One woman dies of breast cancer for every two women diagnosed with the disease in India. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is a leading form of cancer prevalent among women. The chances of developing breast cancer post the age of 40 years is higher, which makes a mammogram essential for women in the age group at least once in two years.
The causes for early onset of the disease and for breast cancer in general is often attributed to poor lifestyle, poor eating habits, irregular sleeping hours, high stress levels, early onset of puberty, late menopause and pregnancy beyond the 30s. Read more about the causes, symptoms and diagnosis of breast cancer.
Cervical cancer – Every eight minutes, one woman dies of cervical cancer in India; it kills over 33,000 women In India alone annually. The disease stands in pace with breast cancer as yet another leading cause for cancer deaths in women. A striking fact about this type of cancer is that it is mainly caused by HPV (the human papilloma virus). The virus is transmitted through sexual contact. The disease originates in the cervix and also involves the uterus. It is noted to be more common among women who become sexually active at a young age.
Others – Other forms of cancer are also prevalent in women, although not as common as breast cancer and cervical cancer. These include ovarian and uterine cancer. The causes for these types of cancer are varied: hereditary or family history of the disease; owing to hormone therapy for other conditions such as fertility treatment or breast cancer treatment; obesity; no history of pregnancy; and genetic mutations.
Common Types of Cancer in Men
Cases of oral and lung cancer in men and cervical and breast cancer in women account for over 50% of all cancer deaths in India, making in essential to understand these types and cause of cancer as well:
Oral cancer – While oral cancer is not a common type of cancer globally, it is in India, and accounts for around 7% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in a year. This form of cancer includes cancers of the mouth, lip, inner cheek, palate, and most part of the tongue. The primary cause for oral cancer in India is the excessive use of tobacco products, whether it’s tobacco chewing or smoking.
Lung cancer – A lethal and very common type of cancer in India, lung cancer is attributed to a number of causes, chief among them the use of tobacco products. Other causes include environmental pollution, chulha cooking in villages, and carcinogenic compounds. Read more about lung cancer.
Prostate cancer – The prostate is a walnut-sized gland below the urinary bladder. Its primary function is to secrete fluid that nourishes sperms. The gland is prone to hypertrophy with age, i.e., it grows in size. It is also very prone to cancer with age. It is the second most common type of cancer in men in the world and also accounts for about 240,000 global deaths each year. While its prevalence in India was once low, poor lifestyle has seen an increase in the number of cases reported in recent years.
Common Types of Cancer in Children
Cancer in children is described to be quite different from that in adults, especially since causative factors are not as apparent. Only 3% of all forms of cancer occur in children. They may be fast growing but also equally sensitive to chemotherapy treatment, making cure a practical and achievable goal.
Bone cancer: A common type of cancer in children, bone cancer originates in the bone tissues of the limbs, i.e., arms and legs. It also involves fibrous tissue, cartilage, and nerve tissue of the musculoskeletal system. Bone cancer can attack the body during the first 20 years of age when there is maximum growth in the musculoskeletal system.
Leukaemia: Cancers that begin in the bone marrow or from the blood and lymphatic system are termed blood cancers. There are three distinct types of blood cancers, and leukaemia is the most common form among the three. It is caused by an increase in immature or faulty white blood cells (WBCs that fight disease) in the bone marrow. These cells could spread and multiply across the body, causing damage to other organs as well.