What is cancer?
An aberrant cell proliferation, which can spread to other tissues and organs, is a hallmark of cancer.
Tumors may form from these fast-growing cells. They may also interfere with the body’s normal processes.
When it comes to death, cancer is a leading cause of death in many countries. Almost one in six people will die from cancer in 2020, according to the World Health Organization. Every day, scientists are testing new cancer treatments.
What causes cancer?
Mutations, or alterations to the DNA in your cells, are the primary cause of cancer. Inherited genetic alterations are a possibility. They can also be caused by environmental factors after birth.
Carcinogens, which are extrinsic factors that might cause cancer, include:
. Radiation and ultraviolet (UV) light are examples of physical carcinogens
. Chemical carcinogens such as tobacco smoke, asbestos, alcohol, air pollution, contaminated food, and water contamination
. Viruses, bacteria, and parasites are biological carcinogens that can cause cancer.
More than a third of cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking, drinking, obesity, and a lack of physical activity, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Cancer is more likely to occur in people who have a higher risk of having the disease. Among the possible danger factors are:
. Use of tobacco
. high levels of intoxication.
. According to a 2017 analysis, a diet high in red and processed meat, sugary drinks and salty snacks, starchy foods, and refined carbs such as sugars and processed grains.
. absence of physical activity
. being exposed to polluted air
. irradiation of the body
. a lack of protection from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays
. The Epstein-Barr virus (EB), which causes infectious mononucleosis, is one of the viruses that can cause peptic ulcer disease.
Cancer risk rises along with advancing years. According to the National Cancer Institute, the chance of having cancer rises until the age of 70 to 80 and then decreases (NCI).
It’s possible, according to a 2020 study, that this is due to:
. aging’s diminished capacity for cell repair
. risk factors accumulate over time
. exposed to toxins for a long time
Inflammatory disorders, such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis, can raise your risk of cancer. Chronic inflammatory bowel illness such as ulcerative colitis is one such example.
Types of cancer
Even if they spread to other places of the body, cancers get their names from where they start and what kind of cells they are made of. Lung cancer, for example, is still used to describe cancer that begins in the lungs and then spreads to the liver.
In addition, many medical words are employed to describe various forms of cancer in general:
. Cancer that originates in the skin or tissues that cover other organs is known as carcinoma.
. Sarcoma is a type of cancer that affects the connective tissues that hold our bodies together.
. There are two types of leukemia: acute myeloid leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.
. Both lymphoma and myeloma affect the immune system and are cancerous.
Learn more about specific types of cancer with the resources below.
. cancer of the appendix
. cancer of the urinary tract
. cancer of the bones
. cancer of the brain
. cancer of the womb
. cancer of the cervix
. cancer of the colon or colonic
. pancreatic malignancy
. cancer of the ears
. tumors in the uterus
. cancer of the esophagus
. heart disease
. cancer of the gallbladder
. cancer of the kidneys
. cancer of the larynx
. cancer of the lip
. carcinoma of the liver
. cancer of the lungs
. malignancies of the mouth and throat
. cancer of the ovary
. cancer of the pancreas
. The disease that affects the penis
. cancer of the prostate
. carcinoma of the rectum
. cancer of the skin
. carcinoma of the small intestine
. cancer of the spleen
. cancer of the stomach or gullet
. cancer of the testicles
. Thyroid tumors
. cancer of the womb
. invading the vagina
. tumors of the vulva
The importance of early detection
When cancer is discovered in its earliest stages, it is said to have been detected early. This has the potential to improve therapeutic efficacy and reduce mortality.
Proactive cancer detection is possible with regular screenings. The following are some of the most common cancer screenings:
. Cervical cancer and prostate cancer. Cervical and prostate cancer screenings, for example, can be part of routine exams.
. Lung cancer. Screenings for lung cancer may be performed routinely for persons who have certain risk factors.
. Skin cancer. If you have concerns about your skin or are at risk for developing skin cancer, a dermatologist may do a skin cancer screening.
. Colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer screenings should begin at the age of 45, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS)Trusted Source. During a colonoscopy, these screenings are usually done. According to a 2017 review of data, at-home testing kits may also be able to detect some forms of colorectal cancer.
. Breast cancer. Mammograms are advised for women over the age of 45, however you can begin screenings at the age of 40 if you choose. Screenings can be recommended sooner in high-risk individuals.
Screening suggestions from your doctor are critical for those with family histories of cancer or a high risk of developing the disease.
It is possible that some cancers are tougher to identify early and do not show symptoms until later stages even if persons with cancer may recognize cancer warning signs.
The following are some signs and symptoms of cancer:
. growths or bumps on the skin
. weight loss that isn’t explained
. drowsiness and exhaustion
. sweating in the bed at night
. alterations in the digestive process
. Modifications to the skin
Warning symptoms for different forms of cancer are generally distinct. The best thing to do if you’re suffering inexplicable symptoms is to see a doctor.
How does cancer grow and spread?
Abnormal cell division
In the normal course of things, the cells in your body multiply and multiply. The type of cell in each individual determines the life cycle. New cells replace those that have been injured or killed.
Cancer throws a wrench in this system, causing cells to proliferate uncontrollably. Changes or mutations in a cell’s DNA are to blame.
Instructions for cell growth and division are included in the DNA of every cell. DNA mutations are common, yet most cells are able to fix them. A cell can become malignant if a mistake is not addressed in a timely manner.
Cells that should be replaced by new ones can survive mutations instead of dying, and new cells can arise when the old ones are no longer needed. Tumors can occur when these extra cells divide unchecked, leading to an overgrowth of cells.
Creation of tumors
Depending on where they develop, tumors can be harmful to one’s health.
Several types of tumors exist, and not all of them are cancerous. Noncancerous tumors, known as benign tumors, do not spread to other tissues.
However, tumors can grow large and put pressure on nearby organs and tissue, causing complications. Invading cancerous tumors are known as malignant tumors, and they can spread throughout the body.
Some cancer cells can also move to distant parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. In medical terms, this is referred to as metastasis.
Cancers that have spread to other parts of the body are regarded to be in an advanced stage. Metastatic malignancies are more difficult to cure and more deadly.
Depending on the type of cancer and how advanced it is, there are a variety of treatment options available.
Localized treatment. This type of treatment focuses on one specific location of the body or tumor, such as through surgery or radiation therapy.
Systemic treatment. Treatments like chemotherapy and immunotherapy can have a wide-ranging effect on the entire body.
Palliative treatment. In palliative care, symptoms of cancer, such as difficulty breathing and pain, are addressed.