Cancer is a term used to refer to a large group of serious diseases that can affect any part of the body. It wreaks havoc on the body by disrupting the normal process of cell growth and division. Simply put, cancer results from a series of cell mutations accumulated over a certain period of time.
Despite the advances in the field of medical sciences today, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. Last 2018, approximately 9.6 million lives were lost to this disease.
In the Philippines, cancer is the third leading cause of death. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) recorded 141,021 new cases of the disease. Data also shows that 79,019 of these cases were women.
Before learning more about which types of cancer are more prevalent in women, there should be a basic understanding of this disease.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer can start in any place of the body like the blood, the colon, or the lungs. It begins when some cells begin to behave abnormally. Normally, the body produces cells that grow and divide. And once they reach a particular age, some cells die and the body creates new cells.
However, when cancer invades the body, cells start to act out. Cells that are damaged don’t die while new cells divide rapidly, creating more cells than the body needs. This overproduction of cells causes tumors.
However, tumors are not explicitly linked to cancer. When a tumor isn’t cancerous, it is a “benign” tumor. What sets it apart from a cancer-related tumor is that it won’t spread or invade other parts of the body.
Tumors that are formed because of cancer are called “malignant” tumors. These are tumors that can spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymph vessels.
Removing a malignant tumor can prevent the spread of cancer. But once the cancer has spread, removal of the tumor won’t guarantee that the person will be cancer-free.
Cancer: Risk Factors
There is no exact reason as to why some people get cancer, while others do. Doctors still can’t find a single cause of cancer, while some cancer patients don’t have any known risk factors. However, research has yielded risk factors that may increase your risk of developing cancer.
Cancer risk factors include:
- Age: Cancer won’t develop with a single cell mutation. In fact, cancer may take years to develop. Breast cancer statistics in the Philippines shows only part of the picture. Data has shown that half of cancer cases occur in people who are above 66 years old. However, cancer can develop at any age. Being young doesn’t necessarily make you immune to the disease.
- Habits: Some lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking are linked to a higher chance of developing cancer. Unprotected sex or UV-ray exposure are also behaviors that are linked to some types of cancer.
- Family history: Cancer is a mutation that passes from generation to generation through genes. If cancer is common among your family, you’ll be more at risk of developing it.
Prevalent Types of Cancer Among Filipinas
Data from the World Health Organization show that breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer among women in the Philippines. Breast cancer statistics in the Philippines also show that breast cancer makes up 16% of the cancer diagnosis among women and that three out of 100 Filipino women will develop cancer in their lifetime.
Other types of cancer included in the list of top 10 cancers in the Philippines are:
- Breast Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
It’s important to understand these types of cancer in order to learn how to prevent them. If you’re a woman, being familiar with these cancers can help you make the necessary changes in your lifestyle to lessen the risk of developing them.
1. Breast Cancer
Breast cancer usually begins in the cells located in the milk-producing ducts, lobules, or other tissues in the breast. One of the primary signs of breast cancer is a malignant tumor forming in the breast which can usually be seen through an x-ray or felt as a lump. Lymph vessels may carry these cancer cells and cause the cancer to spread to the breast bone, collar bone, or armpit. Breast cancer statistics in the Philippines have helped to raise awareness of this deadly disease and the importance of screening.
2. Cervical Cancer
This type of cancer attacks the cells in the cervix, which is located in the lower portion of the uterus. Cervical cancer can develop from contracting human papillomavirus (HPV) or a sexual transmitted disease or infection.
3. Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal or colon cancer is a type of cancer that develops near the end of the digestive tract, or the colon. Cancer in the colon usually develops from ‘polyps’ which are groups of small, benign lumps located inside the colon.
4. Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lungs. There are two ways you can get lung cancer: primary and secondary. Primary lung cancer is when the cancer starts in the lungs while secondary lung cancer is when the cancer is a result of another cancer spreading to the lungs.
5. Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which is the primary organ in a woman’s body responsible for producing egg cells. Cancer that starts in the ovaries is especially dangerous because it can go undetected until the cancer spreads to the nearby pelvis or abdomen.
Ways to Prevent Cancer
It may seem difficult to prevent a disease like cancer because of how little is known about the exact cause of the disease. However, there are simple things you can do that can lessen your risk of developing this disease:
- Protect yourself against the sun’s harmful UV-rays by always using sunscreen or packing an umbrella or cap wherever you go.
- Steer clear of harmful vices like smoking or drinking which can make you more prone to acquiring serious medical conditions, not just cancer.
- Always strive to have protected sex, and get regular screenings for HPV or sexually-transmitted infections.
- Get into the habit of performing regular breast self-exams.
- Make an effort to eat cleaner, increase your intake of vegetables and fruits.
Cancer is still one of leading causes of death around the globe. In the Philippines, women are more at risk of developing cancer. Knowing more about the most prevalent types of cancer among women can help raise awareness about the habits and behaviors that can put you at risk of cancer.
It’s always best to seek the advice of a medical professional for your options on cancer screening tests, and other more detailed information on cancer.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.