Cancer is a deadly disease that has destroyed many lives. Every year, 12.7 million people find out they have this disease and 7.6 million people die from it.
Seventy per cent of cancer deaths happen in low and middle-income countries. According to WHO (World Health Organization), one-third of cancer deaths are from lifestyle and dietary choices.
As 22 per cent of cancer deaths are from tobaccos usage, it is one of the most dangerous risk factors for cancer. There are hundreds of types of cancer, as this disease can happen anywhere in the body.
Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the body. These abnormal cells are dangerous because they multiply uncontrollably. As they multiply, they infiltrate and destroy healthy body tissue causing severe illness and death.
This life-threatening disease can occur in a single part of the body or spread throughout the body. Thankfully, the death rate for cancer is decreasing, which is due to advancements with effective treatment.
Cancerous tumours are malignant. They can reappear after treatment and surgery. Whereas, benign tumours don’t grow back once they are cut off. Though benign tumours are harmless, when they appear in the brain, they can be life-threatening.
Normal cells grow in a controllable and responsible manner. Whereas cancerous cells grow irresponsibly and uncontrollably. Cancer cells are like naughty children that do not listen and cannot be controlled.
Normal cells perform their specific functions which keep the organs and body healthy and strong. And cancerous cells, do the opposite. They do not mature enough to perform the necessary functions. And so, they divide erratically.
If the body sends a signal to the cancerous cells to stop dividing, they are unable to process that signal. Cancerous cells can ignore the signal and continue to keep dividing, causing severe harm to the person.
Unlike normal cells, cancer cells can evade the immune system. The immune system protects the body from infections and diseases. Even though the immune system detects harmful agents and kills them, some cancer cells can hide.
Some cancerous cells can keep the immune system from killing them. This leads to cancerous tumours to stay alive and grow.
There are more than 100 types of cancer. Cancer for each body part has its name. For example, Lung cancer is the cancer of the lungs. Cancer of the stomach is known as stomach cancer.
The type of cells that form cancer are also used to classify the different types of cancer. For example, epithelial cell or a basal cell is responsible for carcinoma cancer.
Carcinoma is formed by the epithelial cells which cover the inside and outside surfaces of the body. It is one of the most common forms of cancer.
When you see an epithelial cell under a microscope, they appear in a column-like shape. There are different types of epithelial cells. Carcinomas that begin in different epithelial cells have specific names such as:
Adenocarcinoma forms in the epithelial cells that form mucus or fluids. Most breast, colon and prostate cancers are adenocarcinoma cancers.
Basal cell carcinoma occurs in the base of the epidermis. The base layer is the outer layer of the person’s skin. It appears as marks on the skin that won’t go away.
Squamous cells lie just beneath the basal cells. Under a microscope, these cells look flat with fish-like scales. Some cancers of the stomach, intestines, lung and kidneys are squamous cell carcinomas.
Transitional cell carcinoma forms in the epithelial tissue known as transitional epithelial. Another name for this tissue is urothelium. This type of carcinoma grows in the kidneys, bladder and pelvis.
Sarcoma forms in the bones and soft tissues. It forms in the muscles, lymph vessels, blood vessels, tendons and ligaments. One of the most common cancerous disease of the bone is osteosarcoma.
Another name for leukaemia is ‘blood cancer’. It forms in the bone marrow and blood tissues. Leukaemia doesn’t involve tumours.
In leukaemia, there is an abnormal growth of white blood cells. These white blood cells overpower the normal cells. The deficiency of normal blood cells makes it harder for the body to get oxygen causing severe illness and death.
Lymphoma begins in the T or B cells known as lymphocytes. Hodgkin lymphoma forms in the B cells and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma forms in the B or T cells.
It forms in the lymph nodes and lymph vessels. Lymphoma also forms in other organs of the body.
There are many other types of cancer like multiple myeloma, melanoma, brain tumours, spinal cord tumours and many other kinds of tumours.
Each cancer has it’s own symptoms. And symptoms also differ from person to person. However, there are a few common symptoms which are as follows:
If you have any persistent symptoms, please check in with your doctor.
Before we understand about prevention, let’s explore it’s causes. According to the WHO (World health organization), when a person has a history with this disease, they are more prone to getting it.
When we combine a person’s genetic factors (internal factors) with external factors mentioned below, it may cause cancer in a person. The three external factors are:
When a person has poor lifestyle habits, prior genetic disposition and external factors, it may cause cancerous growth. So, how do we prevent it?
Doctors suggest you do the following to reduce your risk of cancer: