When Cancer Strikes Twice

LiveMD takes a look at cancer and the frequency of multiple diagnosis of this disease.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a disease that occurs when the body’s cells begin to divide and multiply at a much more rapid rate than they are supposed to. The new cells that form are abnormal and can start to group together to form masses called tumours. They can also spread to the bloodstream and lymphatic fluids. Some tumours are benign which means that the cells are stationary and will stay in one location. Other tumours are malignant which means that the cells are moving and can invade other areas of the body, causing the cancer to spread.

Cancer can affect any part of the body and there are over 200 different, known types of cancer.

Can I Get Cancer Twice?

Often cancer survivors are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer again later in life. It is estimated that in the United States alone, 1 out of every 6 cancer diagnosis will be for someone who has already survived cancer previously and these numbers are rising. It is possible to get the same type of cancer again but more commonly these second and third diagnosis are for a different type of cancer, meaning that someone who has had breast cancer is now fighting colon cancer for example.

Why Are Secondary Cancers so Common?

The exact reasons that secondary cancers are so common are still unknown but scientists and cancer researchers do have some hypothesis. Some believe that due to the fact that your risk of cancer increases as you age and because cancer survivors are living so much longer, they are falling into this higher risk category.  Other theories point to the treatments used on cancer patients, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Some believe that these treatments may increase your risk of developing other types of cancers. A final theory held by many looks at environment and lifestyle choices. Perhaps it is the environment that we are exposed to and the lifestyle choices we make, such as diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption, that are increasing our chances of being diagnosed with cancer multiple times in our lives.

How Can I Reduce the Risk of Getting Cancer?

Cancer is unpredictable and the exact causes of all cancers are still unknown but there are some things that we can all do to decrease our risk of getting this disease.

  1. Stay Active and Watch Your Weight : Physical activity is very important for a healthy body and a healthy weight. By keeping your body active and your weight in check you will help to decrease your chances of a cancer diagnosis.
  2. Eat a Healthy Diet : Fill your meals with lots of fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods, stick to organic produce as often as possible and reduce your consumption of meats.
  3. Avoid Tobacco and Cigarette Smoke : Quit smoking, avoid secondhand smoke and don’t use any tobacco products like chewing tobacco or e-cigarettes.
  4. Reduce Alcohol : Too much alcohol can be very bad for your health and can put you at a high risk of developing cancer.
  5. Wear Sunscreen : Applying sunscreen when outside will help to protect your skin from developing skin cancer. Apply every time you go out, even if it is cloudy and reapply often.

By following a few simple tips and making the appropriate lifestyle changes you can help to decrease your risk factors for developing cancer. It is also important to go for regular check ups with your doctor, especially if you are a cancer survivor, to detect any abnormalities early on.

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October 5th, 2016 by