Cancerous Diseases

​Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs. This process is referred to as metastasis. Metastases are the major cause of death from cancer.
What Causes Cancer?
Cancer arises from one single cell. The transformation from a normal cell into a tumour cell is a multistage process, typically a progression from a pre-cancerous lesion to malignant tumours. These changes are the result of the interaction between a person's genetic factors and some external agents.
The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age, most likely due to an accumulation of risks for specific cancers that increase with age. The overall risk accumulation is combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective as a person grows older.
The main cancer risk factors worldwide are tobacco use, alcohol use, low intake of fruits and vegetables. Also, Infections from hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) as well as HPV which causes cervical cancer, are leading risk factors for cancer in low- and middle-income countries. In Addition, Cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV, is a leading cause of cancer death among women in low-income countries.
Causes of Cancer in Brief:
  • Tobacco use. 
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Alcohol use.
  • Sexually transmitted HPV-infection.
  • Urban air pollution.
  • Indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.
Risk Factors:
Age: People aging 55 years old, or older, are more susceptible to cancer. Yet, it can afflict people of all age groups.
Lifestyle: Unhealthy habits and behaviors (such as smoking, alcohol use, exposure to the direct sunlight and illicit relationships) increase the potentiality of cancer.
Familial History: Around 5-10% of cancer incidence can be attributed to genetic factors. However, not all those with a familial history of the disease are necessarily vulnerable.
Health Status: Cancer could be caused by chronic diseases, such as colitis.
Signs & Symptoms:
Symptoms of cancer vary according to the affected organ. They include: fever, pain, fatigue, abrupt change of body weight (usually decrease). Also, a noticeable mass or tumor could develop underneath skin, in addition to changes of skin color (yellowness, redness, etc.) Other symptoms include: non-healing wounds, persistent cough, hoarseness, difficulty in swallowing, indigestion, and defecation problems.
The physician may choose one of these diagnostic methods:
  • Clinical examination: the physician examines the patient's body in search of any tumors, color changes, or any other signs of cancer. 
  • Laboratory testing: by taking a blood sample to detect some types of cancer, like blood cancer (Leukemia). 
  • Radiology: by using radiation to examine the skeleton and other inner organs (ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, CT scan, etc.)
  • Biopsy: There are numerous ways to take biopsy samples, varying in accordance with the cancer type and the organ affected. It is the best and surest way of diagnosis in most cancer cases.
  • Cancer mortality can be reduced if cases are detected and treated early.
  • Regular medical examination helps detect cancer at an early stage. It is therefore recommended for highly vulnerable persons.
  • The American Cancer Society has put forward a number of medical examinations in order for adults to evade cancer.
Highly Vulnerable Pe​ople                                                                         Type of Cancer               
Women, 40 years or older​ Breast cancer
Women, 21 years or older​ Cervical cancer
Women & men, 50 years or older​ Colorectal cancer​
Men, 50 years or older​ Prostate cancer ​
Cancer Stages:
The physician explores the stages of cancer in the body. Cancer, on the whole, is usually phased into 4 stages, starting from the first to the fourth, which is the most serious stage.
  • Abnormal interaction of the immune system with cancer: in some cases, the immune system interacts with cancer abnormally, by attacking healthy cells.
  • Prevalence: Cancer might attack other organs of the body. Usually it can be stopped but not treated.
  • Cancer setback: some cancers might reappear after recovery. Post-treatment follow-up is therefore highly recommended.
Cancer treatment varies according to a number of factors, most importantly the cancer type and stage, as well as the patient's health status.
Types of Treatment:
  • Preliminary treatment: usually by surgery, with the aim to eliminate cancer cells. 
  • Supportive therapy: by killing the cancer cells remaining after preliminary treatment (e.g. chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy).
  • Palliative care: it is basically meant to control complications. Palliative care is treatment to relieve, rather than cure, symptoms caused by cancer. Palliative care can help people live more comfortably; it is an urgent humanitarian need for people worldwide with cancer and other chronic fatal diseases. It is particularly needed in places with a high proportion of patients in advanced stages where there is little chance of cure. Relief from physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems can be achieved in over 90% of advanced cancer patients through palliative care.
Treatment Options:
  • Surgical treatment: to eliminate tumors. 
  • Chemotherapy: to kill cancer cells.
  • Radiotherapy: by using high-energy radiation (e.g. X-ray).
  • Stem cell transplantation: stem cells can be taken from bone marrow, either of the patient or a volunteer.
  • Biological therapy: intended to help the immune system to detect and fight cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy: some types of cancer feed on the body's hormones (such as breast cancer and prostate cancer). By eliminating such hormones, cancer cells die.
Cancer Prevention:
There is no certain way that can be said to protect from cancer. However, there are some factors that reduce the potentiality or seriousness of the disease, such as:
  • Abstention from smoking:  cancer is evidently connected to smoking, especially lung cancer.
  • Avoidance of direct sunlight: especially the harmful ultraviolet rays, by staying in the shade, wearing protective clothes and using protective creams.
  • Proper nutrition: by choosing the foods rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains (e.g. corn, brown rice and crushed wheat.)
  • Regular exercise: daily exercise (for 30 minutes) helps reduce evade cancer.
  • Optimal weight: Studies show that there is a close relationship between cancer and obesity. Optimal weight can be attained by regular exercise and proper nutrition.
  • Undergoing medical examination every now and then.
  • Immunization: there are a number of viruses causing cancer, such as Hepatitis (B), which may lead to liver cancer. Immunizations protect from such viruses, Allah willing!
  • Taking sufficient sleep and rest is recommended.
  • Keep away from stress and enjoy your hobbies.
World Cancer Day 2013 focuses on dismissing misconceptions and myths about the disease; below are the most prominent:
 (Cancer is just a health issue)
Truth: Cancer is not just a health issue. It has wide-reaching social, economic, development, and human rights implications.
(Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries)
Truth: Cancer is a global epidemic. It affects all ages and socio-economic groups, with developing countries bearing a disproportionate burden.
(Cancer is a death sentence)
Truth: Many cancers that were once considered a death sentence can now be treated and for many more people, their cancer can be treated effectively.
(Cancer is my fate)
Truth: With the modern methods, it is now possible that a third of the most common cancers can be prevented – God willing-.
Last Update : 15 March 2018 10:39 AM
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