There are moments in life that are so extraordinary that they crystalise in your mind. The trouble is that they could be extraordinary for happy reasons or for scary, or sad, reasons. Some phrases inspire intense emotions when they are applied with context. Perhaps the phrase ‘will you marry me’ or ‘I love you’ can inspire warm and happy feelings. On the other hand, when doctors tell patients that they have stage 4 cancer, they know that they are likely delivering devastating news.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease — or more aptly a collection of diseases — in which cells inside the body divide abnormally and uncontrollably. This process can happen anywhere in the body. When this happens, it is a disruption to the static and critical process of cell creation, resulting in sickness and potentially death.
Blood cancer and tumour cancers are the two main types. Blood cancer is cancer that occurs in blood cells, while tumour cancers can appear in any other tissues or organs. Being able to divide cancer neatly into two major categories belies the complexity of the disease. As prostate cancer specialists Sydney understand, cancer can take many forms. Some forms grow slowly while others move at an accelerated pace. Some respond to particular treatments while others do not. Some stay in one place while others spread to other parts of the body.
Many things can cause cancer. Carcinogens are things that lead to cancer. They could be radiation or solid substances. Carcinogens promote carcinogenesis, which forms cancer cells. Asbestos, which used to be a staple in the construction industry, is a known carcinogen, as are nickel and vinyl chloride. The benzine component in crude oil makes it carcinogenic.
Tobacco use and prolonged, unprotected exposure to the sun are two very common causes. Poor health and diet lifestyles could lead to cancer, and there are also genetic forms of cancer.
What Is Stage 4 Cancer?
Metastatic, or stage 4, cancer happens when cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. It is the most advanced form of cancer. The shadow associated with stage 4 cancer is that treatment options do not include identifying a cure, but rather relieving symptoms while slowing its growth, while at the same time extending the quality and length of life.
When cancer cells split off from the main tumour, they travel through the body by way of the bloodstream or the lymphatic system until they find tissue to attach to. At that point, not only are the cells growing in this new location, but they are actively fighting off the immune system, too.
What Are the Symptoms of Stage 4 Cancer?
The answer to this question varies. The type of cancer determines the symptoms. One commonality is that they all involve pain. Symptoms appear in the part of the body that has become affected. For example, when cancer has spread to the bones, you could expect pain and numbness, as well as loss of control of the bowels or bladder.
When it has spread to the liver, pain could be accompanied by abdominal swelling, weight loss, and yellowing of the skin. Besides chest pain, when cancer has spread to the lungs, it may also cause shortness of breath and coughing up blood. When cancer has spread to the brain, symptoms could include nausea, confusion, headaches, dizziness and even seizures.
What Are Treatment Options?
Targeted therapy is a treatment option, in which medicines are administered that attack the cancer cells. They act differently, depending on the particulars. Surgery is generally only utilised when the spread is small and might be removed along with the original tumour. Immunotherapy is the application of drugs into the immune system. Immunotherapy drugs are used to treat various forms of cancer, including blood, breast and bladder cancers.
Cancer is devastating and it can happen to anybody. Though there are clearly some lifestyles that might appear to court cancer, sometimes its appearance is mysterious. Stage 4 cancer is a phrase that you don’t hope to hear, but if you must, hopefully it is in the company of a loved one. If it affects you, the only choice is to focus on the happy things and be strong.