Introduction to Cancer and Tumors

03 February, 2021 Deepika Chakraborty

The term cancer itself fills people's hearts with dread and doubt. However, a considerable part of the population unaware of the facts and science related to this dreaded disease. Cancer most of the time not only manifests on lifestyle habits but also is attributed to environmental and genetic changes. Therefore, it is significant for the people to be enlightened on the topic of cancer briefly. This blog features about two life threatening disease Cancer and Tumor.

Growth | Symptoms | Types

Cancer: An Overview

When the body cells start to grow abnormally anywhere in the body parts and the growth of these cells is not under control, it develops into cancer. These abnormal cells are called cancer cells or malignant cells. These cells invade normal body tissues which results in early signs of Cancer. It is also a fact that cancer is not only confined to humans. Animals and other living organisms also get cancer.

Whether a person will or will not develop cancer is often influenced by various factors such as age, gender, race, diet, and genetics.

Cancer Growth and Metastasis

Any cell grows, matures, and then divides to form daughter cells that carry all the necessary information to create two new daughter cells, laying the base of human anatomy. When a cell grows old or becomes damaged, it dies, and new more advanced cell takes its place. In case of cancer, cells become abnormal and they try to self-preserve by dividing uncontrollably and forming non-functional cells. This causes the development of malignant tumors, which later spreads into the entire body.

However, not all tumors are cancerous. Benign tumors do not spread to nearby tissues like cancer cells. They often can grow large in size and cause problems, but they are not cancerous. However, chances of a benign tumor transforming into malignant tumor is never absent.

Why any cell turns malignant can be understood by studying the molecular genetics and biology of the cell. In cancer cells, it has been observed that the DNA undergoes genetic mutations which lead to the formation of incorrect genetic code and faulty proteins. These mutations that mostly harmless sometimes do lead to cancerous manifestation of the cell.

Some cancer cells which are able migrate past the blood-brain barrier and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system can spread to distant areas of the body. This process is called metastasis. Cancer which has metastasized can consider more advanced and lethal and often leads to death of an individual.

What are the Symptoms of Cancer?

1) Unexplained Weight Loss: Weight loss is the first sign of cancer. However, excessive weight loss is a matter of concern that calls for a doctor's help.

2) Fatigue: Excessive fatigue could be the early sign of cancer. Cancer cells remove all the nutrients from the body that makes the patient tired.

3) Fever: Fever is the first symptom that develops if the body is dealing with an infection or a disease. However, only some characteristics of fever define the symptoms of cancer.

4) Pain: Cancer pains are different and can be different for each type of cancer.

5) Skin Changes: Skin is the largest organ of the body. A person dealing with cancer can present skin damage that can indicate development of cancer.

Types of Cancer

Following are the some of the most dangerous cancer types that causes most of the fatalities:

Melanoma
As the name suggests, melanoma is cancer that involves melanocytes, which are specialized cells for the production of melanin (the pigment responsible for skin colour).

Lymphoma
Lymphoma is cancer that involves lymphocytes (T and B cells). Lymphocytes are involved in disease-fighting and part of the white blood cells that impart immunity to the body.

Carcinoma
Carcinomas are the most common types of cancer. They are formed when epithelial cells undergo mutation.

Leukemia
Commonly known as blood cancer, leukemia originates in the blood-forming tissues of the bone marrow known as leukemias. Leukemia does not form solid tumors, but large numbers of abnormal white blood cells (leukemia cells and leukemic blast cells) start growing uncontrollably in the blood and bone marrow. Presence of fewer red blood cells makes it difficult for the body to get oxygen to its tissues. It may also lead to bleeding, or fight infections.

Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors
There are different types of brain and spinal cord tumors as well. These tumors are named based on the type of cell in which they are formed. Brain tumors can be benign or malignant, but malignant brain tumors are often considered incurable with high chance of remission. It also has a high-fatality rate.

Lung Cancer | Kidney Cancer | Bladder Cancer | Different Stages of Breast Cancer | Colorectal Cancer | Colon Cancer

Treatment
Doctors will advise for tissue biopsy after an initial diagnosis of your health condition. This is done in order to confirm type of cancer and its presence in the body. In case tissue biopsy presents with positive evidence of cancer, the doctors first prepare the patient to absorb the mental shock of the revelation of cancer. Different patients present different manifestation to the revelation of cancer. Some cry, some laugh, and some blame the doctors themselves. Some might even try to commit suicide. Hence, patient counselling by the doctors is the first step in the treatment process.

 

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