Know About Cancer

Cancer is a deadly disease and is struggling hard presently to become the number one killer of our times. The incidence of cancer is increasing. This is because of increasing longevity, changing lifestyle, increasing pollution and many other factors. Three out of every ten people in the world will have cancer in their lives by 2025 .Cancer is increasing in India too and in the next 15 years or so, one out of every six person, will have cancer, which means that at least one member of every family will have a patient suffering from cancer. It is hence imperative that we all know the basics about cancer and its causes, early symptoms and methods of treatment. The study of Cancer is called Oncology,

The most common cancers in the world are of Lung, prostrate, colon (large gut), and rectum. In India the three most common cancers in women are of cervix, breast and esophagus (food pipe) and in men, the head and neck region and esophagus are affected by cancer most commonly. Over one third of all the cancers of the head and neck region, of the world affect Indians

What is Cancer?
Cancer is a purposeless growth of cells, which is unresponsive to the normal growth control mechanism of the body. These soon become so large that they cause adverse impact on the body. This is done by various methods
  • Cancer cells use up body nutrients and deprive the normal cells of food and energy
  • If on surface they can cause disfigurement and ulceration
  • By fast growth they cause pain
  • They may obstruct blood vessels, intestine, airway, food pipe etc
  • They secrete hormone like substances which cause fever, weakness and other metabolic imbalance
  • It may spread to distant organs and cause organ failure

Benign or Malignant
Cancer is often confused with tumor. Neoplasia, which is a purposeless growth of cells, can be of two types, Benign or Malignant. The benign one is the harmless growth and is normally called a tumor, these are slow growing, normally well localized in a capsule and almost never spread to distant organs. Very few tumors may invade local tissue or organs. Malignant neoplasm is the harmful one, which is called Cancer. This is fast growing, does not have a localizing capsule, infiltrates into local tissue and spreads to distant organs, often leading to death. Spread of cancer to distant organs is called metastasis. The common organs affected by metastasis are lymph nodes, liver, lung, bones and brain.

Types or Cancers
Cancers are of various types depending upon the organ or part of the body involved. The common ones are
  • Adenocarcinomas - These affect the linings on the solid organs like intestine, lung etc.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinomas -these are the common cancers of head and neck region, cervix and esophagus
  • Transitional Cell carcinoma- these affect the urinary system
  • Sarcoma-these are cancers of connective tissue like muscles, bone, fat etc
  • Lymphomas-these are cancers of lymph nodes but may affect other organs too
  • Leukemia- this is commonly called blood cancer and affects the blood cells

Causes of Cancer
The exact cause of cancer is not known. but it is believed that changes (mutations) in the genes lead to cancer. These changes may be caused by various factors like genetics; hereditary; geographical distribution; chemicals like aniline, benzene, etc.; chronic friction like old injury or burn scar; exposure to ionizing radiations and ultraviolet rays; smoking; drinking; use of pan, pan masala, and tobacco; poor hygiene; and certain preexisting diseases or conditions.
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