What is Cancer?
Cancer can be defined as a disease where abnormal cells multiply and divide uncontrollably, causing the growth of lumps or tumors. These tumors normally grow and interfere with the normal functioning of the body systems and organs. Tumors will also sometimes be the source of hormones that are harmful to the body and reduce the body’s functioning. Cancer types are identified with reference to the cell type that was initially affected. If the cancerous cells initially affected the lungs, then the patient will be said to be suffering from lung cancer. These cancer cells will usually move around the body through the blood stream and the lymph and invade other tissues which they progressively destroy. This movement of cancer cells is known as metastasis.
Most forms of cancer are caused by environmental factors or lifestyle. Continuous exposure to extremes of chemicals, sunlight, tobacco, infections or poor eating habits, lack of exercise, consumption of too many chemical additives are just some of the causes of cancer. Anything that alters the genetic formation of body cells is a possible cause of cancer and should be avoided. There are people who are however more susceptible to cancer due to their genetic make up. This means that they are at a higher risk of developing cancer when exposed to anything that could cause cancer.
The many types of cancer can be classified into five broad groups which are:
- Leukemias, these are cancers that normally originate in the bone marrow and progressively multiply in the blood stream.
- Lymphomas which originate in the lymph nodes and tissues associated with the immune system.
- Carcinomas are cancers that begin in, and affect the internal and external body organs.
- Sarcomas are cancers that affect bones, cartilage, muscles, fat and connective ligament.
- Adenomas are cancers that originate in the body glands.
There are several approaches to the treatment and control of cancer. When detected early and especially where the cancer has not moved to other parts of the body, cancer can actually be completely cured through surgical removal of the tissue affected. Radiation is another approach to cancer treatment where cancerous cells are destroyed by use of radioactive rays. This treatment is usually used along other with other treatment options. Where the cancerous cells are widely spread which is normally at advanced stages of the condition, cancer is normally treated by use of chemotherapy which is a combination of medicines that attack cancerous cells in the body. There are other treatments that continue to be developed but these three are the most widely used.
It is important to point out that cancer is not a contagious disease and you cannot get it through physical interaction except some forms of cancer causing cells that could be transmitted through sexual intercourse. To reduce the chances of developing cancer requires avoiding exposure to conditions that are associated with causing cancer. It is also very important to have medical screening that can lead to early detection and thus increase the chances of cure.