What are the causes and symptoms of cancer?


health2Cancer is one of the UK’s biggest killers; it is estimated that almost 300,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year and 1 in 3 people will be affected by the disease.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease, which is characterised by abnormal reproduction of the cells; cancerous cells can invade healthy tissue and this can affect bodily function. Cancer can spread from the original site to other parts of the body; this process is called metastasis.

What are the causes and symptoms of cancer?

smoking (2)There is no single cause of cancer but several risk factors have been identified; these include:

  • Smoking
  • Excessive drinking
  • Poor diet
  • Family history
  • Exposure to environmental factors

Sometimes, there appears to be no cause of cancer; healthy, fit individuals can develop cancer.

In some cases, there are no symptoms of cancer; some forms of cancer, such as ovarian cancer, are known as silent killers, as there are often no symptoms or very general symptoms, which may be associated with other common illnesses or conditions. Many forms of cancer do present symptoms and common symptoms include:

  • Abnormal lumps and swellings
  • Changes in appetite and sudden weight loss
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Persistent coughing and breathing difficulties
  • Blood in the urine or faeces
  • Changes in the feel or appearance of moles


There is still no cure for cancer but treatments have become much more effective in recent years. Research has helped to develop new treatments and methods and chemotherapy and radiotherapy are examples of modern medical innovations. Chemotherapy is a combination of medications, which are designed to destroy cancerous cells, while radiotherapy is a treatment which uses radiation to shrink tumours and kill cancerous cells. Sometimes, a combination of therapies is used to treat cancer and surgery may also be carried out. As technology has become more advanced, treatments have become more effective and developments in the diagnostic process have also enabled doctors to treat patients quicker and this has improved survival rates.

smokingCancer research

Cancer research plays a vital role in the fight against cancer; a huge amount of time and money is invested in cancer research every year, with the aim of finding a cure for cancer. Research projects are carried out in countries across the world and aim to find effective treatments, explore the causes and risk factors associated with cancer and try to find ways of preventing cancer. Cancer research has become more effective in tandem with advances in technology and science and research can now use different techniques and equipment to explore different aspects of cancer and try to identify possible ways of improving survival rates.

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