What is cancer1?
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in the body. These abnormal cells are called cancer cells, malignant cells, or tumor cells. Anything that can cause abnormal development of a normal body cell can cause cancer. There are more than 200 types of cancer. These cells can infiltrate normal body tissues.
Many cancers and the abnormal cells that make up cancerous tissue are also identified by the name of the tissue from which the abnormal cells originated (for example, breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer). Cancer is not limited to humans. Animals and other living organisms can get cancer.
Cancer cells can often separate from this original mass of cells, travel through the blood and lymphatic systems, and lodge in other organs where they can repeat the cycle of uncontrolled growth again. This process of cancer cells that leave one area and grow in another area of the body is called metastatic spread or metastasis. For example, if breast cancer cells spread to the bone, it means that the individual has metastatic breast cancer to bone. This is not the same as “bone cancer,” which would mean that cancer started in the bone.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It accounted for 8.2 million deaths (about 22% of all deaths not related to communicable diseases; latest WHO data).
Cancer-Causing or Cancer-Related Agents
The following is a list of the main causes and is not exhaustive, as the specific causes are usually added as the investigation progresses.
1- Exposure to chemical or toxic compounds: benzene, asbestos, nickel, cadmium, vinyl chloride, benzidine, N-nitrosamines, tobacco or cigarette smoke (contains at least 66 known chemicals and potential carcinogens), asbestos and aflatoxin
2- Ionizing radiation: uranium, radon, ultraviolet rays from sunlight, radiation from alpha, beta, gamma sources, and X-ray emitters
3- Pathogens: Human papillomavirus (HPV), EBV or Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis B and C virus, Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), Merkel cell polyomavirus, Schistosoma spp. And Helicobacter pylori; Other bacteria are being investigated as possible agents.
4- Human genetics and Germline mutations: These are less common. A germline mutation occurs in a sperm or egg. It passes directly from a father to an offspring at the time of conception. As the embryo develops into a baby, the initial sperm or egg mutation copies itself to every cell in the body. Because the mutation affects reproductive cells, it can be passed from generation to generation.
Several specific cancers have been linked to human genes and include breast, ovary, colorectal, prostate, skin, and melanoma. Cancer caused by mutations in the germline is called hereditary cancer. It represents about 5% to 20% of all cancers.
Cancer Symptoms and Signs
It depends on the specific type and grade of cancer. Although the general signs and symptoms are not very specific, the following can be found in patients with different types of cancer
Changes in bowel or bladder function
Persistent cough or change in voice
Lumps, or masses of tissue
Cancer Diagnosis and Stages
Although there are many tests to detect and diagnose cancer, the final diagnosis is made by examining a biopsy sample of tissue suspected of cancer.
Cancer staging is often determined by biopsy results and helps determine the type of cancer and the extent of cancer spread, Staging also helps doctors to determine treatment protocols. In general, in most staging methods, the higher the assigned number (usually between 0 and 4), the more aggressive the type of cancer or the more it is widespread in the body.
Treatment protocols vary depending on the type and stage of cancer. However, most treatments include at least one of the following and may include all: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
There are many listed home remedies and alternative treatments for cancer, but patients are strongly encouraged to discuss these before using them with their cancer doctors.
It can range from excellent to poor. The prognosis depends on the type of cancer and its staging with those cancers known to be aggressive and those with higher numbers (3 to 4) often have a prognosis that extends more towards the poor.
Most common types of cancer
There are the following main types of cancer in men, women, and children.
Men: prostate, lung, and colorectal
Women: breast, lung and colorectal
Children: leukemia, brain tumors, and lymphoma
Cancer incidence and types of cancer are influenced by many factors, such as age, sex, race, local environmental factors, diet, and genetics.