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An overview of cancer for seniors

Saturday, February 4 is World Cancer Day. With that in mind, we thought that it was important to provide information about the disease itself, with an emphasis on how it affects the senior population.

Cancer refers to the uncontrolled proliferation of cells. Changes in DNA can cause the development of cancer almost anywhere in the body. These cells are invasive, metastatic (travel to different sites in the body and form new tumours), immortal, and angiogenic (develop their own blood vessels to supply nutrients).

In Ontario, the most common types of cancer in males pertain to the prostate, lungs, colon and rectum. In females, the most prevalent types are found in the breasts, lungs, colon and rectum. Approximately 97% of new cancer cases occur in individuals aged 30 and older.

Treatment modalities

Treatment modalities for cancer include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Surgery never removes all cancer cells. Therefore, physicians typically combine it with either radiation or chemotherapy. Radiation involves the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. However, it also causes damage to non-cancerous cells since they are very similar to cancer cells. On the other hand, chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to target cancer cells, which divide rapidly.

You can prevent or detect cancer early by undergoing regular screening tests, staying up-to-date on vaccines, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes keeping a healthy weight, protecting your skin, limiting your consumption of alcohol, and avoiding tobacco.

Using the Boom Health app, you can book caregivers who can provide nurse-directed care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, chronic illness care, and health and home care. You can gain peace of mind from a care provider you can trust. Download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store to get started.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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