harmful effects of cancer

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There are over 200 types of cancer that can start in any type of body tissue. Most of the cancers are normally related to lifestyle, environmental and behavioral exposures. Everyone is at risk of developing cancer and there are some risk factors that increase chances of development of abnormal cells. The risk factors include carcinogens which are a class of substances that are responsible for destroying DNA, aiding or promoting cancer. Some of the common carcinogens are tobacco, radiation like x-rays, arsenic, asbestos, compounds released from car exhaust fumes (Bozzone, 2007). Another risk factor is inherited genes in a family. Cancer can be caused by genetic predisposition that is inherited by a family member. It is possible for one to be born with genetic mutations or faulty genes that increase the likelihood of developing cancer. Another risk factor is age, as people grow older, the number of possible cancer-causing mutations within the DNA increase. Another cause of cancer is immune system whereby individuals who have a problem with their immune system become susceptible to get cancer (Bozzone, 2007).

Carcinogens have a harmful effect on the body because they directly affect the cells. Carcinogens easily damage the genome in cells or even disrupt the cellular metabolic processes. They act on the DNA leading to dangerous changes or increase the rate of cell division. The change I rates of cell division results to changes in the DNA in the body. Common signs and symptoms of cancer include development of lumps that get big with time and cause discomfort. Another sign is coughing or feeling breathless for over three weeks. There are changes in bowel movements that are signs of cancer such as presence of blood in stool, constipation or diarrhea. Another is abnormal bleeding that can not be explained. Presence of suspicious moles or changes in skin can be a sign of cancer. The changes on the skin include skin looking darker, reddened, yellowish, itching or excessive growth of hair. Weight loss that can not be explained by diet or exercise over a period of months can be a sign of cancer (Bozzone, 2007).

The most dangerous type of skin cancer is melanoma (Sharfman, 2012). It results from the development of cancerous growths when some unrepaired DNA damages to the skin cells cause mutation leading to rapid multiplication of skin cells leading to the formation of malignant tumors. It mainly occurs on face, head and neck and is difficult to treat since it grows large. It can grow into the skin and end up reaching lymphatics, blood vessels and also spread into the various organs of the body (Sharfman, 2012). Removing them from affected areas is quite disfiguring to the entire body.

Regular cancer checkups are important because they help to detect cancer while it is still at its early stages. These checkups help in looking for early sign or cancer or some indications that an individual is likely to develop cancer in future. In many cases, if cancer is detected early, there is a high chance for its treatment to be successful. Screening tests can not fully diagnose cancer and there is need for further investigations so as to confirm the results from the screening test.


Bozzone, D. (2007). Causes of cancer. New York: Chelsea House.

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Sharfman, W. (2012). Melanoma. New York: Demos Medical Pub.