Women who are aged between 20 and 40 years should make it necessary to get themselves checked for cancer every three years apart from regular easy-to-do home examinations to stay alert to warning signs of cancer. For cancer, be it of the breast or the uterus, can be cured if detected early enough.
Some cancers that are common in women are oral cancer, esophageal cancer, leukemia, buccal mucosa, malignant lymphoma and thyroid cancer, besides breast cancer and cancer of the reproductive system.
- Leukemia: Commonly known as blood cancer and characterized by tumors in the bone marrow. In this condition, an abnormally large number of white blood cells are produced, thereby inhibiting the production of blood cells. Causes could be radiation, exposure to certain chemicals, a certain virus, drugs and hereditary factors. Symptoms include low fever and anemia, loss of weight and appetite. Treatment involves radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery to remove enlarged spleen. Bone marrow transplant is also recommended.
- Oral Cancer: Caused by radiation, excessive exposure to sunlight, sharp edges of broken teeth brushing against the inner lining of the mouth, chewing tobacco and high deficiency of Vitamins A and B. Symptoms include white or red patches in the mouth, sores that don't heal even after treatment, thickening or hardening or swelling in the mouth and difficulty in opening the mouth. Radiation therapy and surgery followed by radiation are the common modes of treatment.
- Esophageal Cancer: This type is quite common in India. Food habits are the main cause; consumption of very hot or very cold food, spices, chilies, animal fat, preserved meat and fish, pan, deficiency of Vitamins A and B, exposure to radiation and virus. Symptoms include difficulty in swallowing, weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, blood in the stool, which is dark in colour.
- Lymphoma: Malignant tumors of the lymph nodes, most often in the lymph nodes of the alimentary canal, thymus and bone marrow. Also occurs in the brain, liver and kidney. Lymphomas are of two kinds. Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's disease. Symptoms are low fever and anemia, swelling of glands most often on one side of the neck, loss of weight and appetite, and weakness. Chemotherapy and radiation is possible in both cases. Surgery to remove affected lymph glands is possible only in Hodgkin's disease.