04 Deadly Types Of Female Cancers Today

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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world, with 10 million deaths worldwide in 2020, according to the Global Cancer Statistics 2020 report, published by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Behind the term “female cancer” are “hidden” about a hundred different diseases, not to mention a large number of sub-categories, since each organ and each type of cell can be the origin of a cancerous tumor! Thus, there are several different forms of breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, etc.

In this chapter we talk about 04 main types of cancer and try to answer the following questions: What are they? How common are they? What are the causes and risk factors? Is there any screening? What are the symptoms? What are the diagnostic tests? What are the main treatments ?

1- Breast cancer

In addition to being the most common cancer in women, breast cancer remains the most deadly of all female cancers. According to the World Health Organization, in 2020, there were 2.3 million women with breast cancer and 685,000 deaths from breast cancer worldwide. By the end of 2020, 7.8 million women alive had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five years.

woman-checking-the-lumps-on-her-breasts-for-signs-of-breast-cancer-health-care-concept-womens_
woman-checking-the-lumps-on-her-breasts-for-signs-of-breast-cancer-health-care-concept-womens_

The most common symptom of ductal carcinoma is a firm or hard lump that is very different from the rest of the breast tissue. It may appear to be attached to the skin or nearby breast tissue. The lump does not shrink or disappear and does not reappear during the menstrual cycle. It may be tender but is usually not painful (pain is more often a symptom of a non-cancerous condition).

Different types of treatments can be used to treat breast cancer: surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapies.

2- Lung cancer

Lung cancer kills about 10,000 women a year and continues to increase because of smoking. There are probably other risk factors for this increase in lung cancer, such as occupational exposure to certain substances like diesel fumes or asbestos, but this is less common in women. On the other hand, no relationship has been demonstrated between the use of hormones and the occurrence of lung cancer in women.

doctor-checking-up-lung-s-x-ray-film-or-radiograph
doctor-checking-up-lung-s-x-ray-film-or-radiograph

An American study showed that women who took hormone replacement therapy based on estrogen during menopause had an increased risk of developing lung cancer, but the doses were much higher than those administered in Europe or in France.

 Lung cancer is formidable and is very often discovered at an advanced stage because the lung has no innervation for pain. A tumor can therefore develop in the lung, reach 5 or 6 cm, not cause any pain and remain silent for a long time. Lung cancer is often diagnosed at a metastatic stage. And it is these attacks on other organs that will be symptomatic and reveal the disease:

Bone metastases cause bone pain, such as spinal pain or bone fractures.

Metastases in the liver can cause loss of appetite, nausea, severe fatigue, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, swollen liver…

Metastases in the brain can cause hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body), seizures, memory problems, confusion, weakness of certain parts of the body…

Metastases in the adrenal glands (small glands above the kidney) usually do not cause symptoms; they are often discovered incidentally on a CT scan and are only painful when they are very large.

The treatment prognosis for lung cancer depends on the stage of the tumor. Overall, the 5-year survival rate for all stages of lung cancer is about 17-18%. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy (taking pills) are the main treatments for lung cancer in women.

3- Colorectal cancer

Tobacco is not the only risk factor gaining ground among women. Alcohol also plays a role in the development of cancers, including colon and rectal cancer. In addition to alcohol, two other nutritional factors are involved in the occurrence of colorectal cancer: overweight or obesity and consumption of meat and deli meats. “On the other hand, physical activity and consumption of fruits and vegetables seem to play a protective role,” according to Cancer Environment.

Colorectal cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in the very early stages of the disease because it is so small. Symptoms often appear as the tumor grows into nearby tissues and organs. Other medical conditions can cause the same symptoms as colorectal cancer. Diarrhea, constipation, stools that seem narrower than usual, a feeling that the rectum is not completely empty after having a bowel movement, light or very dark red blood in the stool, and bleeding from the rectum are the main descriptive features of the initial phase of this cancer. Surgery is the main treatment for colorectal cancer.

4- Cancer of the body of the uterus

Every year, there are about 9,000 new cases of cancer of the uterus (endometrial carcinoma, uterine sarcoma), which represents 5% of all cancerous diseases in women. The risk increases sharply from the age of 50 onwards: half of the patients are between 50 and 69 years old at the time of diagnosis. Slightly more than 40% are 70 years or older.

In its early stages, uterine cancer usually causes no symptoms. Unusual bleeding or smelly vaginal parts may be an early warning sign. If vaginal bleeding occurs after menopause, it is essential to seek medical attention. In non-menopausal women, bleeding between periods or abnormally heavy periods may indicate cancer.

The latter is detected by the gynecological smear and partly prevented by the vaccine against papillomaviruses, sexually transmitted viruses involved in the development of cervical cancer.

Four types of treatment are considered to fight endometrial cancer: surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Thus, despite clinical efforts, some women’s cancers, including breast, lung, and uterine cancer, continue to have high mortality rates.

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