Cancer is a broad term. It describes the disease that results when cellular changes cause the uncontrolled growth and division of cells. Some types of cancer cause rapid cell growth, while others cause cells to grow and divide at a slower rate.
Certain forms of cancer result in visible growths called tumors, while others, such as leukemia, do not.
A cell receives instructions to die so that the body can replace it with a newer cell that functions better. Cancerous cells lack the components that instruct them to stop dividing and to die. As a result, they build up in the body, using oxygen and nutrients that would usually nourish other cells. Cancerous cells can form tumors, impair the immune system and cause other changes that prevent the body from functioning regularly.
Cancerous cells may appear in one area, then spread via the lymph nodes.
There are many causes of cancer, and some are preventable.
In addition to smoking, risk factors for cancer include:
- heavy alcohol consumption
- excess body weight
- physical inactivity
- poor nutrition
Other causes of cancer are not preventable and include-age, UV exposure, genetics etc.
Doctors usually prescribe treatments based on the type of cancer, its stage at diagnosis, and the person’s overall health.
Treatment options for Cancer include:
Chemotherapy: Administering medicines to kill cancer cells
Immunotherapy: Mostly for breast cancer and prostate cancer immunotherapy uses medications and other treatments to boost the immune system and encourage it to fight cancerous cells
Precision Medicine: is a newer, developing approach. It involves using genetic testing to determine the best treatments for a person’s particular presentation of cancer.
Radiation Therapy: uses high-dose radiation to kill cancerous cells
Stem Cell transplant: Beneficial for people with blood-related cancers, such as leukemia or lymphoma. It involves removing cells, such as red or white blood cells, that chemotherapy or radiation has destroyed.
Surgery: Surgical removal of the cancerous part
Targeted therapies: perform functions within cancerous cells to prevent them from multiplying.
Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2018, there were 18.1 million new cases and 9.5 million cancer-related deaths worldwide. It is estimated that by 2040, the number of new cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 29.5 million and the number of cancer-related deaths to 16.4 million. The burden of cancer is on a rise globally. While medical research is underway to combat the disease a lot needs to be achieved in this direction.