Information in simple English

What is cancer?

Cancer is a term used to describe a collection of diseases characterised by rapid emergence of abnormal cells that grow beyond their normal levels, allowing them to infect neighboring cells of the body and migrate to other organs (a process known as metastasis). A carcinogen is a chemical that causes cancer.

What causes cancer? 

  • Physical carcinogens; ultraviolet and ionizing radiations 
  • Chemical carcinogens; asbestos, tobacco smoke, aflatoxin and arsenic (a food and drinking water toxin respectively)  
  • Biological carcinogens; viral, bacterial and parasitic infections

What are the types of cancers?

  • Carcinomas; include lung, breast, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer 
  • Sarcomas; develop in muscles, bones and fat 
  • Leukemias; commonly known as blood cancer 
  • Lymphoma; cancer of the lymphatic system (a network of tissues, vessels and organs)

What are the common symptoms of cancer?

  • fatigue
  • persistent cough or hoarseness
  • unexplained weight loss
  • swelling or lumps
  • changes in bowel motions
  • atypical bleeding or bruising 
  • mouth problems like sores, bleeding, pain, or numbness 


How can cancer be prevented?

  • Avoid using tobacco and alcohol 
  • Maintain a healthy body weight 
  • Take a healthy diet 
  • Do regular exercise or any physical activity 
  • Reduce exposure to ionizing radiations and air pollution