What Is Cancer?

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1. Introduction
Cancer is one word that no one wants to hear. It can bring a lot of fear and confusion toward many families who have a member death of cancer. Usually, it is more happen in adults, but that was few cases, cancer has also been diagnosed in children too. Cancer is simply a disease of the cells in which bad cells multiply themselves and grow into tumors and even affect all other body organs. There are many types of cancer, but cancer is a huge issue everywhere in the world today. It is also very technical which mean it is not easy to understand even though there are great advancements in cancer management. There is still a lot of research going on with cancer to find out more about it. There are millions of people worldwide who are living with cancer or have had cancer. According to estimates, around half of all American men and one third of all American women will develop cancer during their lifetimes. A healthy lifestyle with regular physical activity, healthy diet, maintenance of healthy weight and staying away from tobacco, sun exposure and other known cancer causing substances can help reduce the risk of getting cancers. Some cancers also have effective screening tests. This helps in detection of common cancers as early as possible. Early treatment often means better chances of recovery and response to anti cancer therapy. Common examples of this are breast cancer and colon cancer screening that saves thousands of lives each year. (Dr Ananya Mandal, MD, 2013)

2. What is cancer?
Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells spread without control and are able attack other tissues of our body. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are many different types of cancer and are named based on where the tumor is located, or where it first started growing in the body. For example, cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer. The most common forms of cancer are colon, lung, breast and prostate cancer.

Sources: Genetic Science Learning Center, 2013
How does it develop? The organs in our body are made up of cells. Cells not just appear everywhere in our body but produced by an existing cell duplicating itself and spreading to produce two new cells. This duplication is called as cell cycle. This cycle is tightly controlled and it only happens if the body needs to replace worn out cells. When these cells continue duplicating when even the body does not need them, the result is a mass or growth, also called a tumor.

Illustration of normal cells dividing

Illustration of uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells Sources: eSchooltoday,2010
These growths are considered either benign or malignant. Benign tumors rarely are life threatening and do not spread to other parts of the body and normally it can be removed. However, malignant tumors often attack tissue and organs nearby, spreading the disease. Cancer can be life threatening and the key is in early diagnosis. If cancer is diagnosed early, there is a high chance that the cancer can be completely cured. 3. What causes cancer?

Cancer is not contagious and isn’t caused by colds or the flu. Each cancer type is different and that means the causes vary. For example, lung cancer may be caused by inhaling tobacco smoke or toxic chemicals. Exposing your skin to intense sunlight can cause melanoma which is skin cancer. With this in mind, let see some causes of cancer. 1. Genetic make up (inheritance)

Normally, every person inherits some genes from their parents. If a person inherits an abnormal gene also called as mutation, there is a 10% of possibility that the abnormal gene will stimulate cancer formation if the conditions are right. This situation is known as genetic predisposition. The most common cancer for genetic predisposition is breast cancer genes. Women who carry one of these abnormal genes have a higher...
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