Cancer – description, individual types and their symptoms

Neoplastic diseases grouped under the term cancer are, after cardiovascular diseases, the second most common cause of death in the Czech Republic, where around 100,000 people fall ill with cancer every year. Thyroid and testicular cancer have the best chance of defeating the disease, while pancreatic and liver cancer have the worst prognosis. In the article, you will find a brief introduction to the topic of malignant tumors and the characteristics and possible symptoms of the most well-known types of cancer.

Content: Cancer – description, individual types and their symptoms

What is cancer?


Cancer development and risk factors


What is a tumor?


Types of cancer and possible symptoms


Other cancers


Is there a way to prevent cancer?


Cancer and lifestyle


Regular inspections and screening


It is a diverse group of diseases that are manifested by the mutation of certain groups of cells in the body, their uncontrollable growth and damage to surrounding organs.

What is cancer?

It is a diverse group of diseases that are manifested by the mutation of certain groups of cells in the body, their uncontrollable growth and damage to surrounding organs. Aggressive types of swelling can lead to fatal consequences in a short time, as is the case with some blood tumors (leukemia, to be exact) or incurable pancreatic cancer, explains MUDr. Lenka Bambasová , clinical oncologist from EUC Clinic České Budějovice.

Malignant tumors occur more often in the elderly, but they can affect all age groups , including children. A cancer diagnosis is a major milestone in a person’s life, while the subsequent treatment process is very demanding physically and psychologically. However, thanks to constant advances in research, modern methods of diagnosis and treatment, a large part of cancer diseases can already be successfully treated.


Cancer development and risk factors

The cause of cancer is the accumulation of factors that weaken the body’s own defense system until it stops working properly. Approximately 29 billion cells are replaced daily in the body. The errors that occur here are influenced by many factors – from heredity, the negative influence of free radicals to insufficient immunity caused by a bad lifestyle.

According to experts, cancer cells are present in everyone, and the task of eliminating them is the immune system – if it is strong enough, the cancer has no chance of breaking through. Therefore, if cancer appears, it is a sign that the organism is in need and the immune system does not have the strength to defend it.

There are also hereditary gene mutations that can lead to the formation of a tumor. However, such a predisposition to a certain type of cancer may not manifest itself at all – it is usually the result of a combination of several factors, the most significant of which is, as already mentioned, a weakened immune system.

Nutritional factors and excess weight , as well as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking , can contribute to the development of malignant tumors to a certain extent Cancer is also often related to age, which explains the wear and tear of cells. However, the age limit is decreasing due to an increasing number of negative influences, says MUDr. Lenka Bambasová .

There are also types of malignant tumors, the emergence of which is related to viral infection. However, viruses alone cannot cause cancer, but they can participate in the process of:

  • cervical cancer – human papillomavirus (HPV),
  • Burkitt’s lymphoma – Epstein-Barr virus,
  • hepatocellular carcinoma – hepatitis viruses,
  • T-cell leukemia – retroviruses.

Basically anything that causes a break or other damage to DNA can be a potential cancer trigger. The following environmental factors have been shown to be associated with the development of cancer:

  • electromagnetic radiation,
  • some chemicals – e.g. in tobacco smoke,
  • chronic infections.



What is a tumor?

The human body consists of a huge number of cells of various functions, etc. Healthy cells that make up tissues and organs grow, multiply and behave “properly”. If division is necessary, an instruction will come from the nucleus of the cell, it will increase and divide into two. This division is under strict control – a healthy cell knows when to divide and when to stop dividing.

However, a change can occur in the cell for various reasons – the genetic code changes and the control system stops working. The cell receives the wrong signal and begins to divide uncontrollably. It won’t even receive a stop signal, resulting in a mass of cells that will form a tumor – malignant or benign.

  • Benign tumors– if the mass of cells is limited and does not attempt to divide further, it is a benign tumor, which usually does not threaten the life of the carrier. However, it can cause problems, e.g. by compressing the surrounding tissue, so it still needs to be removed.
  • Malignant tumors– the manifestation of malignancy is the growth of the tumor into the surrounding tissue, the invasion of organs and the establishment of distant tumor foci, so-called metastases . The only goal of cancer cells is to survive, secure space and nutrients. Therefore, it is usually necessary to quickly remove the malignant tumor from the body of the carrier, as it threatens his life. It is often necessary to remove it together with the organ in which it grows.

A malignant tumor is therefore the uncontrollable growth of cells that have escaped the rules and control mechanisms. We divide the types of malignant tumors (according to the tissues from which they arise) into 4 main groups . The most widespread group are carcinomas , from which the lay name for all types of malignant tumors is derived:

  • carcinomas – arise from the lining of hollow organs, from the skin and tissue of glandular organs,
  • sarcomas – arise from connective and fatty tissue, cartilage, bones and muscles,
  • tumors of the blood and lymphatic system,
  • tumors of the CNS (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nerves.



Types of cancer and possible symptoms

Brain cancer

Brain tumors can have different initial symptoms. One of the possibilities is brain irritation, which is most often manifested by an epileptic seizure. If this does not happen, the manifestations tend to be a combination of focal symptoms depending on the part of the brain in which the tumor grows. Disorders of limb mobility, speech or cranial nerve function may occur. As the tumor grows, a syndrome of intracranial hypertension develops , which can be manifested by headache , vomiting, visual disturbances and other symptoms.

Blood cancer (leukemia)

Leukemia is a malignant cancer of the hematopoiesis. It is characterized by an increase in white blood cells that are immature and do not perform their normal function. They occur in the bone marrow, blood and sometimes in other organs.

Among the possible main symptoms here are loss of energy, rapid fatigue, paleness, frequent infections and bleeding from the nose and gums, excessive formation of bruises and red dots on the skin, enlarged lymph nodes, abdominal pain, bone and joint pain, possibly fever, night sweats , headaches, loss of appetite and weight loss. However, the disease may be discovered accidentally during a blood test for another reason.

Bone cancer

In layman’s terms, bone cancer can refer to various tumors affecting bone , e.g. bone sarcoma arising from bone cells, as well as tumors arising from bone marrow cells such as multiple myeloma or some leukemias. Furthermore, tumors of other tissues or organs that grow into the bone or metastasize. The main symptoms include shooting pain, increased temperature , swelling of the bone, painful growth on the bone, back pain, leakage of urine, loss of appetite, fatigue and others.

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most insidious , and there is still no test available to detect it in time. It has a rapid course, a poor prognosis and manifests only in an advanced stage. Warning symptoms are pain in the upper abdomen, back pain , loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, or yellowing of the mucous membranes and skin, changes in the color and consistency of the stool or inflammation of the veins.

There are several types of malignant tumors on the skin, the most common being basal cell carcinoma, spinal cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Melanoma is the most aggressive – it metastasizes to the skin, lymph nodes and internal organs. At first it may look like a spot, sometimes it develops from a birthmark. Alarming symptoms are changes in moles or freckles – changes in shape, fading edges, darkening, spotting, diameter over 5 mm or bulging above the skin.

TIP: Read our article, which is entirely dedicated to melanoma .

Cervical cancer

Cervical or cervical cancer is usually caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is 99.9% sexually transmitted. In women, HPV most often causes cervical cancer, or vagina and vulva, in men then penile cancer, in both men cancer of the anus or cancer in the area of ​​the oral cavity and pharynx. In our country, vaccination against HPV is available – if it is done between 13 and 14 years of age, it is covered by insurance companies.

HPV infection does not show any symptoms – most women learn about HPV infection from the results of an oncological cytology test. At an advanced stage, there may be pain in the lower abdomen, bleeding after intercourse or a foul-smelling discharge from the vagina.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer most often appears in the area of ​​the milk ducts (ducts) and in the area of ​​the lobular lobes . However, the tumor can also manifest itself in other tissues. In the beginning, a woman often does not notice any changes, and the tumor can only be detected by imaging methods. However, there may be a lump/hardness in the breast, changes in the shape, size or appearance of the breast, changes in the skin of the breast, areola and nipple, retracted skin, dimpling, indentation of the nipple, peeling, reddening of the skin, breast pain (in advanced stages), enlarged nodes in the armpit, bloody discharge from the nipple…

TIP: Read our full article on breast cancer .

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is one of the rarer cancers. There are no typical symptoms for early detection. The first symptoms are uncharacteristic, e.g. pain in the lower abdomen or constipation . In older patients, menstrual-like bleeding may return. A symptom of an advanced disease can be an increase in the volume of the abdomen.

Cancer of the uterus

It usually starts on the surface of the endometrium, when the so-called endometrial cancer develops. Over time, however, a malignant tumor can also grow into the muscle layer of the uterus and spread to the surrounding tissues and organs – to the lymph nodes, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder or intestines. Metastases can then appear in the lymph nodes, liver, lungs or bones. More rarely, a malignant tumor of the uterus arises in the muscle layer (sarcoma of the uterus). Warning signs such as unusual vaginal bleeding always require an immediate visit to a gynecologist.

Lung cancer

Most lung cancer patients have one or more symptoms caused by the underlying disease. About 5% of patients initially have no symptoms, suspicions are raised after a routine examination or, for example, after a chest X-ray.

A large part of the symptoms are typical for a number of diseases of the respiratory tract and lungs, including those of cancer. If even one of them appears, it is time to see a doctor. It can be a chronic cough that has suddenly changed, bronchitis or a cold that does not respond to antibiotics, increasing shortness of breath, blood in the coughed up mucus, chest pain, weight loss, loss of strength, difficulty swallowing and hoarseness.

Colon and rectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the oncological disease with the highest mortality rate here and throughout Europe Symptoms that may (but may not) be a warning are, for example, weight loss, bloating , constipation, diarrhea, or their alternation, a feeling of incomplete emptying of the intestines, narrow stools, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, a feeling of fullness, cramps, vomiting, nausea , frequent fatigue .

It is extremely important to start any treatment as soon as possible. Persons over the age of 50 are entitled to a free examination for occult bleeding from the colon and rectum every two years.

TIP: Read our article, which is completely dedicated to the topic of colorectal cancer .

Prostate cancer

The most frequently diagnosed cancer in men in the Czech Republic, which mostly affects older men. Prostate cancer usually grows slowly, and most men only notice symptoms when the tumor presses on the urethra and prevents urination.

Testicular cancer

The most common symptom here is a painless enlargement of the testicle. However, the first symptoms are often underestimated and the tumor grows rapidly before the first visit to the doctor. About 20% of patients report pain in the groin area as an initial symptom, about 10% are asymptomatic, and the tumor is discovered accidentally. An occasional symptom is loss of sexual appetite and infertility. Regular self-examination is recommended for all men aged 15 to 40 .

Stomach cancer

It usually takes several years to develop. Before a truly malignant tumor develops, pre-cancerous changes in the gastric mucosa often appear, but these rarely cause symptoms or problems. In most cases of gastric cancer, it is adenocarcinoma. Other types, which may originate in the stomach, are more rare.

Liver cancer

This is more often a case of metastatic cancer of another organ , which has spread to the liver from another part of the body. Primary liver cancer is then one that begins directly in the liver cells. In the early stages of primary liver cancer, there are usually no symptoms. But it can be, for example, loss of weight and appetite, pain in the upper part of the abdomen, a feeling of an enlarged liver, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, swelling of the abdomen or legs, pain in the abdomen, a change in skin color, yellowing of the sclera, fluid in the abdomen , light stool.


Other cancers

  • cancer of the tongue, throat, tonsils,
  • cancer of the larynx (voice box) or bronchi,
  • esophageal cancer
  • kidney cancer,
  • small bowel cancer
  • thyroid cancer ,
  • lymph node cancer
  • cervical cancer,
  • cancer of the spine and spinal cord,
  • peritoneal cancer,
  • cancer of the nose or nasopharynx.



Is there a way to prevent cancer?

A certain way of life and some targeted measures, such as regular preventive examinations and participation in screening programs (see below), contribute significantly to the prevention of cancer . Early diagnosis of a malignant tumor strongly increases the chance of successful treatment and can also improve the patient’s prognosis.


Cancer and lifestyle

  • Smoking– the connection here was clearly demonstrated for malignant tumors of the lungs, larynx, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, stomach, pharynx, kidneys, prostate and liver.
  • Alcohol– excessive consumption of alcohol also contributes to the development of cancer, which mainly affects the esophagus, pancreas, stomach, colon and rectum, liver and breast.
  • Movement– ​​on the other hand, enough movement can prevent the development of malignant tumors, especially in the case of malignant tumors of the colon and rectum, lungs, breast and prostate.
  • Sun exposure– if there is too much sunlight, it not only accelerates the aging of the skin, but also becomes a risk factor for malignant skin tumors.


Regular inspections and screening

Every citizen is entitled to a general preventive check-up with us once every 2 years. In addition, women are entitled to a gynecological preventive examination every year from the age of 15. Suspicious changes in the head and neck area can also be detected by a dentist – an adult should undergo a preventive dental examination at least once a year.

There are also screening programs aimed at early detection of malignant tumors of the breast ( ), cervix ( ) and colon and rectal cancer ( ). It is always crucial not to forget that early diagnosis of cancer significantly increases the chance of successful treatment and can also improve the patient’s prognosis overall.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

Leave a Comment