World cancer day is celebrated on the 4th of February each year. This day is marked internationally. The primary purpose of this day is to raise awareness around cancer. It also aims to educate people on the types of cancer, detection, and treatment.
The world cancer day is led by the Union for International Cancer Control. Most people have limited knowledge of cancer. The only fact everyone is aware of is that it can be deadly. For example, there are several viruses that can lead to cancer. But there is more in addition to the deadly facts. One can always follow the precautionary measures to prevent it. Therefore, studying the viruses is helping researchers come up with antidotes.
Viruses are tiny microbes that are infectious. It is estimated that about 20% of cancer cases are due to viruses. Let us take a closer look at some of the viruses that may turn cancerous.
Merkel Cell Polyomavirus (MCV)
Commonly known as MCV, this virus affects the skin. It does not have evident symptoms that you could be on the lookout for. However, it could lead to cancer. MCV can cause a rare type of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma.
You can try to prevent it from happening. All you have to do is apply a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30. It will protect your skin against other diseases also.
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
HBV causes viral hepatitis. Inflammation of the liver is called hepatitis. People who have HBV can go on to develop an acute infection. Some of them may retain the chronic infection for the long term.
The virus spreads through the body through fluids like blood, semen, vaginal secretions, etc. You can contract the virus by having unprotected sex, sharing needles, razors, or transmitting the virus onto the child during birth.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is one of the more known viruses. It can lead to AIDS later on. HIV not only infects but destroys the cells in the immune system. As the number of cells drops, it gets harder for the immune system to fight infections.
HIV spreads through bodily fluids like blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. It can be transferred by one person to the other by having unprotected sex, sharing personal items like a razor, transmitting the virus through childbirth, or by sharing needles.
Human Herpes Virus 8 (HHV-8)
Sometimes the HHV-8 virus is referred to as the Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). It is a type of herpes virus-like EBV. It is rare to get infected with the HHV-8 virus. One of the most common ways for it to spread is through saliva. However, it can also be transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusions, and organ transplants. The immune system tries to keep the virus under control. This is why you do not see any symptoms for a long time.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
The National Cancer Institute says that there are over 200 types of HPV. Some of them cause warts on the skin, while others cause it to grow on the genitals, anus, or throat. Many of those who have HPV, can get cured with treatment.
HPV has many types. They spread through skin-to-skin contact during vaginal or oral sex. Condoms and dental dams can lower risk. But, it cannot completely prevent the chances of getting infected.
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
It is most commonly spread through saliva. Hence, kissing or sharing personal items, or even coughing, sneezing, and close contact could spread the virus. It spreads through blood or semen.
EBV is also a type of herpes virus. Most of the cases occur in childhood. But not everyone who has the virus has the symptoms. Although dormant, it stays in your body for a lifetime, once you contract it.
Tips for Prevention
Contracting viruses that may increase your chances of getting cancer is scary. This is why, on world cancer day, we are sharing some preventive measures.
- Get vaccinated. HBV vaccine is highly recommended to children, infants, and adolescents.
- Do not share personal items like a razor.
- Use condoms and dental dams during intercourse.
- Get regularly screened for HBV if you are a woman.
- Also, get screened for HCV and HIV from time to time.
- Be careful when getting tattoos or piercing. New sterile needles should be used.
It can be scary to know that you may have a virus that could later become cancerous. But awareness is crucial in saving you. Once you are fully aware of the facts, you will be able to take better precautions. You should also have a talk with your doctor about the types of viruses you may be exposed to. Hence, it is better to take preventive tests and stay on top of things. Otherwise, if the virus develops into cancer, it can get too late. The earlier you get diagnosed, the better the chances are of making a full recovery.