Cancer is a deadly disease affecting people worldwide for different reasons. In accordancewith a report from the American Cancer Society, published in 2018, more than 15 million people living in the United States alone were affected by cancer. Since the last decade, the number of people in the world living with cancer has increased.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is actually a group of diseases causing abnormal and uncontrolled growth of bodycells. These abnormal cells are known as cancerous cells which have the capability of spreading to other healthy parts of the body. Besides, the lifespan of these cells is longerin comparisonwith healthy cells. This replaces healthy cells of the body with the abnormal cells, making a person sick.
Now, the question arises, how a healthy cell becomesa cancerous cell?
When the genes of a healthy cell are mutated or altered due to some reason, it becomes cancerous. Different mutations are there which need to occur to convert a healthy cell into a cancerous cell. But there is a defence mechanism in our body against cancer. When a cell alters its genes, theimmune systemdetects and destroys it. Different series of mutations are there that are able to make a cell abnormal. When in the right conditions, the correct series of mutations take place, the growth of abnormal cell occursimmediatelyand the immune system is not able to detect it. This leads to the spread of cancer which is beyond the control of the body making the person sick.
Types of Cancer
Around 200 different types of cancer are there which are related to different body parts. These are named after the body part wherein they occur and grow. For instance, cancer in the lung is knownas lung cancer.
Following are the most common types of cancer worldwide:
Lung Cancer: Lung cancer occurs in the lungs and is generally caused by smoking. But, some other causes of lung cancer are also there, e.g., polluted air.
Breast Cancer: Breast canceris very common in women in comparisonwith men. Itgenerallytakes place in the glands that are responsible for producing milk.
Colon Cancer: Colon canceroccurs in the large intestine (the last part of the digestive system).
Leukaemia: Leukaemia is the type of cancer which affects the red blood cells and bone marrow.
Lymphoma: Lymphomaoccurs in white blood cells (lymphocytes)that fight foreign harmful microbes. White blood cells are also present in lymph nodes, bone marrow, thymus and spleen. Hence, lymphoma is spread to these and some other body parts.
Melanoma: Melanomaoccurs in the cells which carry a pigment, called melanin. These cells provide colour to the skin and are also present in eyes, hair and mouth. Long-term exposure to sunlight or radiations on the skin is the common cause of melanoma.
Thyroid Cancer: Thyroid is a gland, located in the front of the neck in our body. Thyroid canceroccurs in thyroid and leads to the disturbance of production of certain hormones and metabolism.
A large number of causes are there which can result in cancer. However, many causes of cancer are able to be prevented. For instance, smoking increases the chances of lung cancer;hence, prevention from smoking decreasesthe chances of lung cancer.
The common factors that play a role in all types of cancer are as follows:
Overweight of the body
Smoking and air pollution
Lack of physical activities, like exercise
Insufficient nutrition in the body
These are the common factors that increase the chances of getting cancer, but all of them can be prevented. Therefore, it is necessary to follow a healthy lifestyle to decrease the chances of getting cancer. However, some of these causes are difficult to prevent, such as exposure to sunlight, air pollution, skin therapy with laser x-raysand the like.
To get rid of cancer, or at least reduce its effects,some recent advancements in technology have opened new potentialsThree main types of cancer treatment are there:chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. It relies on the type and severity of cancer,which one of these treatments or all three types of treatment need to be received.
The treatments of cancer are described in detail as follows:
Chemotherapy: In this therapy, medicines are used to destroy the cancerous cells in the body. In this treatment,the medicines utilised generally target those cells that divide quickly, since dividing quickly is also a sign of cancerous cells. Chemotherapy may result in very severe side-effects and may lead to kidney failure. Besides, along with cancerous cells,it also kills healthy cells of the body to some extent.
Radiation Therapy: In radiationtherapy, a higher dose of high-energy radiation is targeted to cancerous body part to destroy cancerous cells. This therapy is utilised to decrease the size of the tumour as well.
Surgery: Cancer sometimes is located in certain body partand can be removed by carrying out surgery of that part. The surgeon removes cancer physically to eliminate cancer altogether,andthis way it can be prevented from spreading.
Chewing tobacco and smoking are the main causes of mouth, lung and thyroid cancer in the developing world; India and other Asian countries.
A total of 22% per cent of deaths on account of cancer are caused by tobacco chewing and smoking.
Genetics also has a role to play in cancer. Inherited genetic mutations from the parentcause around 5% cases of cancer.
The most common cancers among men are: prostate, lung and colorectal cancer. For women, it is breast, lung and colorectal cancer.