Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out of control cell growth. Cells generally develop, divide and then die, however occasionally, mutation in cells happen and they start to divide and develop more quickly than normal cells.
There are over 100 types of cancer, and each is classified by the type of cell that is initially affected.
Cancer harms the body when altered cells divide uncontrollably to build up lumps or masses of tissue called tumors (except leukemia where cancer forbids normal blood function by abnormal cell division in the blood). Tumors may grow and obstruct with the nervous, digestive, and circulatory systems and they may release hormones that alter body function. Tumors which stay in one place and demonstrate limited growth are commonly believed to be benign.
Malignant or more dangerous tumors develop when two things happen:
A cancerous cell controls to move throughout the body using the lymphatic systems or blood, destroying healthy tissue in a process called invasion.
That cell controls to divide and develop, making new blood vessels to feed itself in a process known as angiogenesis.
When a tumor successfully spreads to other parts of the body and grows, invading and destroying other healthy tissues, it is known as metastasized. This process itself is called metastasis, and the result is a severe condition which is very hard to treat.
According to the American Cancer Society, Cancer is the second most common cause of death and accounts for nearly one of every four deaths. The World Health Organization estimates that, worldwide, there were 14 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012 (their most recent data).
Types of Cancers
Symptoms of cancer include: Symptoms of cancers can be seen or felt through the skin.
Causes of cancer are:
Changes or mutations to the DNA within cells is the cause of cancer. Cell contains a DNA which is packaged into a large number of individual genes. Each gene contains a particular instructions telling the cell what functions to perform and how to grow and divide. Errors in the instructions can stop a normal function of the healthy cell and may allow it to become cancerous.
Diagnosis of cancer include:
Early diagnosis of cancer can improve the chances of successful treatment and survival.
Endoscopy: Doctors conduct an endoscopy, in which a thin tube with a light and camera at one end is inserted in the body, to look for any abnormalities inside the body.
TNM system: It is the most common cancer staging method where T (1-4) indicates direct extent of the primary tumor and the size, N (0-3) indicates the degree to which the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and M (0-1) indicates whether the cancer has metastasized to other organs in the body.
Imaging techniques: PET scans, X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and ultrasound scans are used regularly in order to detect what organs may be affected by it and location of the tumor.
Other tests: Physicians will analyze body's fats, sugars, proteins and DNA at the molecular level.
Treatment of cancer include:
Chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy are the three most common types of cancer treatment. The aim of the treatment is to destroy the cancer cells with medicines.
Surgery is a way to physically remove cancer. If the cancer is in the form of a malignant tumor (a tumor that spreads) but the tumor is still localized, it may be possible to remove the tumor safely and any surrounding affected tissue. Surgery may not be possible if cancer has spread to other areas of the body or if the tumor cannot be removed without damaging vital organs, such as the brain or liver.
Types of surgery are:
- Laparoscopic surgery
- Laser surgery
- Mohs’ surgery
Radiation of X-ray, gamma rays or electrons are used to damage cancer cells so that they cannot multiply. During this kind of therapy, there is usually no pain.
Chemotherapy medicines are used to attack the cancer cells. Chemotherapy is used when cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy can also be used in combination with radiation and surgery.
Other Treatments: (also called immunotherapy) is another type of treatment which trigger the immune system of the body to produce white blood cells, called lymphocytes. Two types of lymphocytes which attack and kill cancer cells are B-cells and T-cells. Biological therapy aims to boost the ability of the T-cell and B-cell lymphocytes to kill cancer. This therapy can also be used in combination with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery.
Hormone therapy is used sometimes to treat prostate cancer or breast cancer, in addition to radiotherapy or chemotherapy. In hormone therapy drugs are taken that contain other hormones to block the effects of testosterone and estrogen hormones. These drugs are taken because the estrogen hormone can make breast cancer tumors grow faster. Similarly, the testosterone hormone can make cancerous tumors in the prostate grow faster. In other cases surgery to remove the testicles or the ovaries may be used.
Latest TreatmentThree most preferred approaches to treat cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cancer cells in the body while radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy most often gets its power from X-rays, but the power can also come from protons or other types of energy.
- Robotic Assisted Prostatectomy is a recent surgical approach to treat prostate cancer.