Risk Factors, Screening, Treatment, and Prevention of Cancer

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  • 0:03 Cancer Devastation
  • 0:31 Risk Factors & Prevention
  • 3:21 Screening
  • 5:20 Treatment
  • 6:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Cancer prevention, screening, and treatment are three important steps in helping to beat back this devastating condition. We will discuss them, as well as the common risk factors for cancer, in this lesson.

Cancer Devastation

The word 'cancer' is pretty scary, as it should be. To me it encompasses this feeling of utter devastation, a lack of control, and an inevitably bad ending. The good news is that none of those is necessarily true. With proper control for risk factors, screening for cancer, and treatment of it, cancer does not have to be as devastating or uncontrollable as the word itself often implies.

Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention

The first step anyone can take to prevent or reduce the risk of cancer is by looking out for cancer risk factors and avoiding them if at all possible. A risk factor is anything that increases the chance of disease. Let's review some of them:

The sun, tanning beds, and radiation - they fry your organs, like the skin, and some types of radiation can even fry your internal organs! You know how egg whites transform into this completely different-looking and feeling thing after you fry them in a pan? Well, cells on your body that are fried by the sun can transform into completely different-looking things called cancer cells. So stay away from the sun!

Another risk factor is viruses. Viruses are tiny little infectious organisms. Some give you the flu and others give you cancer. I remember I once got this annoying computer virus that caused my internal browser's windows to multiply out of control. Viruses can also cause your cells to multiply out of control, a defining characteristic of cancer itself. Many of the real-world viruses that cause or predispose you to cancer have vaccines you can get for them; they're like an antivirus program, but for your body.

Further risk factors include drugs and chemicals. Everything from alcohol to tobacco smoke to asbestos can lead to cancer. Drugs cause biochemical reactions in your body that can create different cancers. Remember in school, when you mixed vinegar and baking soda to make a chemical reaction that mimicked a little volcano? In our body, mixing a chemical with a normal cell might lead to an explosive reaction that creates an abnormal cell, a cancer cell. Therefore, avoid smoking, stay away from harmful chemicals, and don't drink in excess to help prevent cancer.

Additionally and rightfully, we also have to worry about genetics. Did you ever get a software program that just didn't seem to run right? It's because the code that made the program was messed up, causing all sorts of errors and glitches. If you're born with 'bad' genes, which are things that encode you to be who you are, they can also cause errors and glitches that predispose to cancer formation, except there are no refunds on your genes! And while you can't actually prevent these genes, you can control all of the stuff above to minimize your chances of cancer development even if you have genes that predispose to cancer.

There are plenty of other risk factors for cancer, including obesity, food, and hormones; even gender is a risk factor for cancer. As an obvious example, breast cancer is more likely to occur in women than in men. But we need to move on from discussing preventative strategies and risk factors to how to screen for and treat cancer.

Cancer Screening

Whether it's because you have genes that may predispose you to cancer, or because you don't avoid stuff like the sun, or you are of a particular group predisposed to a certain cancer, you can screen for cancer in order to try to catch its onset a bit early. Doing so makes it much more likely you will beat cancer!

Cancer screening is a term that defines tests, procedures, and techniques designed to detect cancer early on, before the onset of symptoms. Screening for cancer is an important routine procedure for many people. Let's examine some components of cancer screening:

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