Cancer is not an exclusive disease but a group of diseases. It directly affects the growth of abnormal cells. They grow in large numbers and hit our immune system. Our body has cells which live their life and die. They are replenished with new cells. This cycle carries on during the lifetime but in case of cancer, these cells don’t die and continue to grow in large numbers. They are not needed by the body but still are present there. It is important to diagnose it on time so that the invasion can be prevented.
There are more than 100 different types of cancer known to human beings. They can occur in both males and females. Some of them are specific to one gender as the organ is not found in the other. Two common examples are breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. There are no exact causes of cancer. It occurs when there are changes to the DNA of the cells. This DNA is inside a large number of genes which informs the cells to perform certain functions. But when there is error in communication, cell has the potential to become cancerous. They not only allow the rapid growth of these cells but also fail to stop their uncontrolled growth.
There are two main causes of gene mutations –
• Mutations that are present since birth
These mutations are present in the body since the time of birth. You are born with them and may be inherited from the parents. But only a small percentage of cancers are caused from it.
• Mutations that form after the birth
These are major in number and form after birth. It can be caused due to lifestyle choices or a side effect of some disease.
The most dangerous thing about cancer is that there is no exact cause. There are several risk factors associated with this disease but keeping away from all of them can also cause cancer. Some of the common risk factors are as follows –
• Age – it takes a long time for many cancers to develop and show symptoms. They may be present in the body for some time but the symptoms are showed only when they have reached an advanced stage.
• Many lifestyle choices are considered as risk factors. They include smoking and drinking alcohol regularly.
• Excessive exposure to skin is a leading cause of skin cancer. It causes sunburns and blisters in the body.
• Small portions of cancer are also caused by inheriting it from the family members. The risk increases if one or more close members are suffering from it.
• Obesity causes many weight problems which are directly related to this disease. Fat cells present in the body effect processes that regulate the growth of cancer cell.
• Environment also causes some problems. Even if you don’t smoke, inhaling second hand smoke can be harmful.
There should be regular screening of Cancers if you think that any of the above mentioned risk factor is associated with you. Common treatment methods are –
This treatment method uses drugs to kill the growth of cancer cells. Either a single or combination of drugs is used in this treatment. But as they kill the cells very quickly, there might be damage to some nearby cells. It can be given before or after the surgery or as the only method.
• Radiation Therapy
It destroys the affected cells by the use of high energy x-rays and other radiation methods. More than half the people who are suffering from cancer receive radiation therapy at one point or another.
Surgery is the operation to remove the tumor. The goals of surgery vary. It is not only used to treat the disease but also used to diagnose it in the body. Staging is a type of surgery which is done to find out the extent of tumor.