CANCER

WHAT IS CANCER?

The abnormal growth of cells anywhere in the body causes cancer. These cells are called cancer cells. These cells destroy the normal tissues in the body. Normal body cells grow, divide and die in an orderly way whereas cancer cells continue to grow and divide in a disorderly fashion and these cells do not die. These cells form a tumor. But, not all cancer cells form tumors. Cancer can occur at any age but 67% of cancer deaths occur in people who are 65 years. There are two types of tumors. Malignant tumors and benign tumors. Malignant tumors spread to other parts of the body at a rapid speed. It spreads to other parts through the bloodstream and lymphatic system. Whereas benign tumors stay in one place and start to grow slowly and expand in the same tissue. Although cancer is common, 5-10% of it can be hereditary, i.e they are inherited from their parents. The inherited cells undergo mutation and cause cancer.

CAUSES OF CANCER:

There are several causes of cancer. The substance that causes cancer is known as a carcinogen. This carcinogen affects the normal growth of cells.

Lifestyle factors: Smoking, drinking alcohol and drugs high fat-diet, and working with some toxic chemicals are the risk factors that may cause cancer in adults.

Inheritance: Cancer cells can also be inherited from our past generation to the present generation in some cases. It may be caused by a genetic mutation, exposure to chemicals in the living residence, or a combination of these factors. 

Genetic disorders: Some syndromes like Wiskott-Aldrich and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndromes are responsible for altering the immune system. The immune system helps to fight back against diseases and infections. Sometimes the stem cells in the bone marrow become damaged and when they reproduce, it results in the growth of cancer cells. The stem cells are damaged by some inherited genetic defects.

Environmental exposure: The use of pesticides and fertilizers in the growth of food plants have a direct link to childhood cancers. There is also evidence of cancer occurring in a child who lives in a polluted environment.

 TYPES OF CANCER:

Cancers are classified into four types based on where it is found.

  1. Carcinomas: This type of cancer appears in the epithelial tissues of the skin or some inner tissues of the internal organs. Carcinomas may spread to other parts of the body or it may develop in the same tissues where it was provided. The risk of carcinoma increases with age, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, exposure to ultraviolet rays. Examples of carcinomas include breast cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer.
  2. Sarcomas: Sarcomas appears in the tissues that support and connect the body. Sarcomas can develop in fat, joints, blood vessels, muscles, nerves, lymph vessels, bones, cartilages. Example: Bone cancer (osteosarcoma), liposarcoma in fat, and rhabdomyosarcoma in muscles. Sarcoma occurs in both children and adults.
  3. Leukemia: Cancer that occurs in the blood is known as leukemia. Leukemia involves white blood cells (WBCs). WBCs are responsible for fighting against infection and diseases. Normally they grow in an orderly fashion. But in the case of leukemia, the bone marrow produces more amount of WBCs, and those cells do not function properly. Example: Blood cancer.
  4. Lymphomas: It begins from the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system consists of vessels and glands that help in fighting against infection. The most common types of lymphomas are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

TREATMENT:

Some of the cancers will have only one treatment. But most of the cancers have combinations of treatment such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery.

Chemotherapy: In this treatment, drugs are used to kill the cancer cells. The disadvantage is that it may also affect the normal cells and bone marrow and causes loss of hair and loss of weight and it reduces the immune responses.

Radiotherapy: In this treatment, high-energy rays are used to kill the cancer cells. These rays stop the growth and division of cancer cells. Some of the side effects are skin rashes, lowers WBCS count, and loss of appetite.

Surgery: In this treatment, the person has to undergo the surgery to remove the entire mass of cancer cells i.e, tumors in a particular area. In some cases, the only way to know if the person has cancer or what kind of cancer he has is by removing small tissue from the tumor and testing it.  

PREVENTION:

  • Always eat healthy foods. 
  • Consume more vegetables and fruits. 
  • Exercise regularly to keep your body fit and free from diseases. 
  • Don’t smoke and don’t drink alcohol. 
  • Minimize your exposure to harmful rays and chemicals. 
  • Avoid usage of tobacco. Reduce your exposure to the sun.
  • Consume nuts reduces the risk of cancer

We should follow preventive measures to avoid cancer. If already cancer has occurred, one has to undergo proper treatment.