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Common Types of Cancer Among Filipinas

Common Types of Cancer Among Filipinas

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, cancer develops when the normal cell cycle is disrupted. Cell division is a tightly controlled process. Normally the body has mechanisms that prevent individual cells from dividing excessively. Some cells escape this process and they become clonogenic, meaning they reproduce themselves indefinitely, thus, creating clones.This overproduction of cells causes tumors.

However, not all tumors are cancerous. 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. Once the cancer has spread, it would be very difficult to guarantee disease control.

Cancer: All You Need to Know

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 5 cancers in the Philippines are:

  1. Breast Cancer
  2. Cervical Cancer
  3. Colorectal Cancer
  4. Lung Cancer
  5. 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. Thankfully, there are two tests to screen cervical cancer: Pap test and HPV testing.

Cervical Cancer: All You Need to Know

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. By the age of 50, doctors recommend screening for colorectal cancer.

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.

A low-dose CT scan (LDCT) can be done for patients with a high-risk of developing the disease, including those who heavily smoked.

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.

Unfortunately, there is no mass screening procedure for ovarian cancer. The woman must be aware of changes she experience in her body, which may include bleeding, pain or pressure, or bloating. When you detect unexpected symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

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:

  1. Steer clear of harmful vices like smoking or drinking which can make you more prone to acquiring serious medical conditions, not just cancer.
  2. Always strive to have protected sex, and get regular screenings for HPV or sexually-transmitted infections. Ask your doctor if you are eligible for HPV vaccination.
  3. Get into the habit of performing regular breast self-exams.
  4. Make an effort to eat cleaner, increase your intake of vegetables and fruits, and exercise to maintain a health weight.

Health Habits That Can Lower Your Risk of Cancer

Conclusion

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.

Read Also:

Most Common Types of Cancer Among Filipino Men

Early Signs of Breast Cancer to Watch Out For

What Are the Early Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Cancer, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Philippine Cancer Control Program, https://www.doh.gov.ph/philippine-cancer-control-program, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Tumor, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001310.htm, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Malignant Soft Tissue Tumors, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17203-malignant-soft-tissue-tumors, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Cancer, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20370588, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Age and Cancer Risk, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/age, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Alcohol, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Cervical Cancer, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352501, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Colon Cancer, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20353669, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Ovarian Cancer, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20375941, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Seven Steps to Prevent Cancer, https://www.preventcancer.org/education/seven-steps-to-prevent-cancer/, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

Breast Self-Exam, https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam, Accessed Aug. 3, 2020

https://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/populations/608-philippines-fact-sheets.pdf, Accessed May 19, 2021

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Written by Kip Soliva Updated May 19
Medically reviewed by John Paul Ferolino Abrina, M.D.
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