What Things You Need To Know About Cancer?

November 16, 2020

What is cancer?
In the most basic terms, cancer is when cells grow out of control and invade other tissues. Cells may become cancerous due to the accumulation of defects or mutations in their DNA. Certain inherited genetic defects (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations) and infections increase the risk of developing cancer. Environmental factors (such as air pollution) and poor lifestyle choices – such as smoking and alcohol abuse – can also damage DNA and lead to cancer.

In most cases, cells are able to detect and repair DNA damage. If a cell is severely damaged and unable to repair itself, it usually undergoes what is known as programmed cell death or apoptosis. Cancer occurs when damaged cells don’t grow, divide, and spread properly, instead of destroying themselves as they should.

Malignant vs. benign tumors
A tumor is an abnormal mass of cells. Tumors can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Benign tumors
Benign tumors grow locally and do not spread. Therefore, benign tumors are not considered cancer. They can still be dangerous, especially if they press on vital organs such as the brain.

Malignant tumors
Malignant tumors have the ability to spread and invade other tissues. This process is called metastasis and is an important feature of cancer. There are many different types of malignant tumors depending on where the cancerous tumor originates.

Cancer metastasis
Metastasis is the process by which cancer cells break away from a malignant tumour and travel to and invade other tissues in the body. Cancer cells metastasize to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system and blood stream. Cancer cells from a primary or primary tumor can travel to other sites such as the lungs, bones, liver, brain, and other parts of the body. These metastatic tumors are “secondary cancers” because they come from the primary tumor.

What is metastatic cancer?
Metastatic cancer retains the name of the primary cancer. For example, bladder cancer that metastasizes to the liver is not liver cancer. It is referred to as metastatic bladder cancer. The significance of metastasis is that it helps determine staging and treatment. Some types of metastatic cancers are curable, but many are not.

What is the cause of cancer?
Certain genes control the life cycle of a cell – growth, function, division and death. When these genes are damaged, the balance between normal cell growth and death is lost. Cancer cells are caused by DNA damage and uncontrolled cell growth. Here is a partial list of known factors that damage DNA and increase cancer risk.

Mutations cause
Mutations in genes can cause cancer. For example, mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 (associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer) can inhibit the body’s ability to safely protect and repair DNA. Copies of these mutated genes can be passed on to offspring, leading to an increased risk of hereditary cancers.

Environmental causes
Cancer can be caused by environmental exposure. Sunlight can cause cancer through ultraviolet radiation. Airborne pollutants such as soot, wood chips, asbestos, and arsenic can also cause cancer.

Microorganisms cause
A number of microorganisms are thought to increase the risk of cancer. These include bacteria like Helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers and has been linked to stomach cancer. Viral infections (including Epstein-Barr, HPV, hepatitis B and C) have also been linked to cancer.

Lifestyle and dietary causes
Lifestyle choices can also lead to cancer. Poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, and exposure to chemicals and toxins can all increase the risk of cancer.

Causes of cancer. Causes of Cancer: Treatment
Medical treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapies (drugs designed to target specific types of cancer cells), or immunosuppressive drugs used to reduce the spread of cancer in the body can also cause damage to healthy cells. It is known that after aggressive cancer treatment, some “second cancers” can develop that are completely independent of the initial cancer; however, researchers are producing drugs (e.g., targeted therapies) that are less harmful to healthy cells.

Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
There are over 100 different types of cancer. Each type of cancer and each person is unique. The signs and symptoms of cancer depend on the size and location of the cancer and whether it has metastasized.

Common Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of cancer may include

have a fever
Skin changes (swelling, ulcers that don’t heal, jaundice, darkening)
Unintended loss or increase in body weight
Other more obvious signs of cancer may include

Lumps or tumors (lumps)
difficulty swallowing
Changes or difficulties in bowel or bladder function.
Persistent cough or hoarseness
gasp for breath
Chest pains
Unexplained bleeding or discharge

6 types of cancer
Cancer can occur in any part of the body. Broadly speaking, cancers can be classified as either solid cancers (such as breast, lung or prostate cancer) or liquid cancers (blood cancers). Cancers are further classified according to the tissue from which they arise.

What is a cancer?
Cancers are cancers that occur in the epithelial tissues of the body. They account for 80 to 90 percent of all cancers. Most cancers of the breast, lung, colon, skin and prostate are cancers. This category includes the two most common types of skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, adenocarcinoma of the adenoids also falls into this category.

What is sarcomatoid carcinoma?
Sarcomas occur in connective tissues, such as bone, cartilage, fat, blood vessels, and muscle. These cancers include the bone cancers osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma (which causes skin lesions), and the muscle cancers rhabdomyosarcoma and sarcoma.

What is carcinoid cancer of bone?
Myeloma is a cancer that occurs in the plasma cells in the bone marrow. This type of cancer includes multiple myeloma, also known as Kahler’s disease.

What is leukemia?
Leukemias are a different group of bone marrow blood cancers. They cause a large number of abnormal blood cells to enter the bloodstream.

What are lymphoma cancers?
Lymphomas are cancers of cells of the immune system. These include the rare but serious form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin’s disease) and a large group of white blood cell cancers collectively known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma).

What is a mixed cancer?
Mixed cancers arise from more than one type of tissue.

7 common types of cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. The most common cancers in the U.S. are breast, prostate, lung, colon and rectum, and bladder cancers. Lung, colon and rectal, breast, and pancreatic cancers account for the most deaths. The prognosis for different cancers varies greatly. Many cancers are curable through early detection and treatment. Invasive or late-diagnosed cancers may be more difficult to treat and may even be life-threatening.

What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and one of the deadliest. About one in eight women will develop an aggressive form of breast cancer at some point in their lives. Although the death rate has declined since 1989, more than 40,000 American women are thought to have died from breast cancer in 2015 alone.

What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S. and the deadliest cancer for both men and women.In 2012, more than 210,000 Americans were diagnosed with lung cancer and more than 150,000 Americans died from lung cancer that same year. Worldwide, lung cancer is the most common form of cancer.

What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.In 2013, more than 177,000 Americans were diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 27,000 American men died from prostate cancer.

What is colorectal cancer?
Of the cancers that can affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading killer in the United States.

What is liver cancer?
Liver cancer affects about 20,000 men and 8,000 women each year. Hepatitis B and C and heavy alcohol consumption increase the risk of liver cancer.

What is ovarian cancer?
Approximately 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. For American women, ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death.

What is pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. Of the approximately 53,000 Americans diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, only 8 percent will survive more than five years.

How the stage of the cancer is determined
Doctors use the staging of cancer to classify it according to its size, location and extent of spread. Staging helps doctors determine the prognosis and treatment of cancer.The TNM staging system classifies cancers based on.

Tumor (T): Size and/or extent of the primary tumor
Node (N). The spread of cancer to the lymph nodes in the area of the primary tumor.
Metastasis (M). The spread of cancer to distant sites away from the primary tumor.
Some cancers, including cancers of the brain, spinal cord, bone marrow (lymphoma), blood (leukemia), and female reproductive system, are not classified by TNM. Instead, these cancers are classified according to a different staging system.

What are the stages of cancer?
The TNM classification of cancer is usually associated with the following five stages.

Stage 0: This refers to “carcinoma in situ,” which means that the cancer is confined to the primary site. This type of cancer has not spread, nor has it invaded other tissues.
Stage I-III: These higher stage cancers correspond to larger tumors and/or a larger extent of disease. These stages of cancer may have spread beyond the primary site, invading regional lymph nodes, tissues, or organs.
Stage IV: This type of cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes, tissues, or body organs away from the primary site.

Cancer diagnosis
Various tests can be performed in order to diagnose cancer. Positron emission tomography (PET-CT) and computed tomography (CT) and other similar tests can highlight “hot spots” of cancer cells with high metabolic rates.

The most common tests and procedures used to diagnose cancer include.

Mammograms (mammograms)
Papanicolaou test
Tumor Marker Tests
bone scan
nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI)
PET-CT scan

The role of lymph nodes in the diagnosis of cancer.
Cancers that originate in the lymph nodes or elsewhere in the lymphatic system are called lymphomas. Cancer that originates in other parts of the body can spread to the lymph nodes. The presence of metastatic cancer in the lymph nodes may mean that the cancer is growing rapidly and/or is more likely to spread to other parts of the body. The presence of cancer in the lymph nodes often affects prognosis and treatment decisions. Many diagnostic tests use the lymph nodes as an indicator.

What are the treatment options?
Treatment for cancer is varied, depending on the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. The most common treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Other treatments include targeted/biologic therapies, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, angiogenesis inhibitors, cryosurgery, and photodynamic therapy.

Each of these treatments has potential risks, benefits and side effects. The patient and his or her care team (which may include a physician or other specialist, surgeon, oncologist, radiation oncologist, etc.) will help determine the best and most appropriate treatment options.

Is there a cure for cancer?
Despite tremendous effort and funding, there is no cure that can eliminate cancer.In 2016, the United States announced a $1 billion investment to create such a cure, named the National Cancer Moonshot Program by President Obama.

Until a cure is found, prevention through a healthy lifestyle is the best way to stop cancer. Some ways to help protect yourself from cancer include eating more fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, drinking alcohol only in moderation, exercising, avoiding sun damage, getting vaccinated, and getting regular health screenings.

surgery (branch of medicine)
Surgery is usually performed to remove a malignant tumor. Surgery can determine the exact size of the tumor, as well as the extent of spread and invasion into other nearby structures or lymph nodes, all of which are important factors in prognosis and treatment. Surgery is often combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

Sometimes the cancer cannot be completely removed surgically because doing so would damage critical organs or tissues. In these cases, debulking surgery is required to remove as much of the cancer as possible in a safe manner. Similarly, palliative surgery is performed in the case of advanced cancer to reduce the effects of the cancerous tumor (e.g., pain or discomfort). Debulking and palliative surgery are not curative, but they are designed to reduce the impact of the cancer.

Reconstructive surgery may be performed after cancer surgery to restore the appearance or function of a body part. Breast reconstruction after mastectomy is an example of this type of surgery.

Approximately 50% of people with cancer will receive radiation therapy, which may be given before, during or after surgery and/or chemotherapy. Approximately 50% of people with cancer will receive radiation therapy, which may be given before, during, or after surgery and/or chemotherapy. Internal radiation therapy involves placing radioactive material in the body close to the cancer cells. This is known as brachytherapy.

Systemic radiation therapy involves giving radioactive substances by mouth or intravenously. The radioactive substance reaches the cancerous tissue directly. Radioactive iodine (I-131 for thyroid cancer) and strontium-89 (for bone cancer) are two examples of systemic radiation therapy.

Typically, external radiation is given 5 days a week for 5 to 8 weeks. Other treatment options are sometimes used.

Chemotherapy procedures
Chemotherapy, or “chemo,” refers to the more than 100 different drugs used to treat cancer and other diseases. If not all cancer cells are destroyed, the goal of treatment may be to slow the growth of the cancer, prevent the cancer from spreading, and/or relieve cancer-related symptoms (such as pain).

Depending on the type of chemotherapy, drugs may be given by mouth, injection, intravenous (IV), or local injection. Intravenous chemotherapy may be given through a catheter or port, which is usually implanted in a blood vessel in the chest and is given during treatment. Sometimes chemotherapy is given regionally, directly to the area that needs treatment. For example, intravenous therapy involves injecting chemotherapy directly into the bladder to treat bladder cancer.

The chemotherapy regimen a patient receives depends on the type and stage of the cancer, any previous cancer treatments, and the patient’s overall health. Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles over several days, weeks, or months, with breaks in between.

Other treatments
In addition to surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, other therapies are also used to treat cancer. These therapies include

Targeted therapy or biological therapy
Targeted or biological therapies aim to treat cancer and strengthen the body’s immune system while minimizing damage to normal, healthy cells. Monoclonal antibodies, immunomodulatory drugs, vaccines, and cytokines are all examples of targeted or biological therapies.

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the injection of stem cells into a cancer patient after the bone marrow has been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation.

Angiogenesis inhibitors
Angiogenesis inhibitors are drugs that inhibit the growth of new blood vessels that are needed for the growth of cancerous tumors.

Cryosurgery is the application of extreme cold to kill precancerous lesions and cancer cells.

Photodynamic therapy
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves the application of specific wavelengths of laser energy to tissues that have been treated with photosensitizers, which are drugs that make cancerous tissue vulnerable to destruction by laser therapy. Photodynamic therapy selectively destroys cancer cells while minimizing damage to nearby normal, healthy tissue.

Ongoing research
Ongoing cancer research continues to discover newer, less toxic and more effective cancer treatments. Visit the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for a list of ongoing clinical trials.