What is Cancer?

what is cancer
source: rxlist.com

Globally, the second leading cause of death, Cancer has claimed approximately 9.6 million lives in 2018 alone. With its insatiable appetite, it will continue to consume many lives and wrecking families across the planet in the coming years. Even though the research scientists are aggressively looking out for a cure for this monstrous disease, taming this beast is unforeseeable in the near future. Although every one of you must have heard of someone fighting it, and it has continued to instil fear, not many understand much about the disease. So let’s throw some light on what cancer is.

An umbrella term is given to a collection for related diseases, characterised by the formation of abnormal cells.

A human body consists of an estimated 37.2 trillion cells. In a healthy adult, around 242 billion cells are produced every day replacing the old ones, which die as a part of a natural process. Each cell follows the cell cycle, thus maintaining the internal balance which keeps us healthy.

Cancer strikes when due to some unusual gene mutations, this orderly process is altered. As a consequence, the cells stop following the instructions of genes. It starts to grow and divide uncontrollably instead of dying when it should. Cancer cells continue to grow because they behave differently than normal cells. In the majority of cases, these cells form a mass called a tumour in the body. Now, this tumour can be of two types-cancerous or benign.

A cancerous tumour is malignant, meaning it can grow faster and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumour, on the other hand, can grow but will not spread and so it can’t cause harm to the body.

Stages of Cancer

Identifying the stages of cancer can help determine how dangerous it is, how much it has spread and what are the treatment options. The cancer stage can be identified only after an extensive physical examination and can act as a guidepost for doctors to decide what treatment will work best.

Stage 0:

The patient does not have cancer but has abnormal cells growing in the body which have the potential to spread.

Stage I:

A cancer mass is formed but is relatively small and even though it may have affected the nearby tissues, but it still hasn’t grown deeply.

Stage II & III:

These two stages of cancer indicate that cancer has spread deeply to the lymph nodes and the nearby tissues.

Stage IV:

This is the advanced stage and identifies that cancer has spread to other organs of the body.

Determining the cancer stage is crucial

It is of utmost importance to identifying the stage as it describes the location of the cancer cells and the extent to which it has spread and whether it is affecting other parts of the body.

Among other reasons, examining cancer and identifying the stage helps the doctor establish a common way to describe the patients about the state of their disease. The other reasons include:

Plan the course of treatment

With research, time and effort, cancer treatments have evolved in the past few years. The main forms of treatments available include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. According to the location of the tumour and the stage of cancer, personalised cancer treatment is provided to the patient.

Chance of recovery

The first question that arises after the diagnosis of any disease is the prognosis- to understand how aggressive the cancer is, how difficult it would be to fight the disease and what will be the possible outcomes, how gargantuan is the toll one particular form of cancer has on the affected population. Cancer survival rates or survival statistics ascertain the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer and help to discern the chances of recovery.

 
  • Common Cancer Types
  • A-C
  • D-H
  • I-O
  • P-Z
  • Oesophagus
  • Cervix uteri
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Leukaemia
  • Kidney (renal cell and renal pelvis) cancer
  • Corpus uteri
  • Lip & oral cavity cancer
  • Brain, central nervous system
  • Ovary
  • Melanoma / Skin Cancer
  • Gallbladder
  • Endometrial cancer
  • B-cell Prolymphocytic Leukemia
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome
  • Breast Cancer
  • Brain Tumors
  • Bowel Cancer
  • Bone Cancer
  • Blood Cancer
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Bile Duct Cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma)
  • Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome
  • Brain Stem Glioma – Childhood
  • Breast Cancer in Men
  • Breast Cancer – Metastatic
  • Breast Cancer – Inflammatory
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
  • Chronic T-cell Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Children’s Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Carcinoid
  • Carney Complex
  • Cowden Syndrome
  • Craniopharyngioma – Childhood
  • Central Nervous System Tumors – Childhood
  • Connective Tissue Cancer
  • Desmoplastic Infantile Ganglioglioma – Childhood Tumor
  • Eye Cancer
  • Eyelid Cancer
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Ear Cancer
  • Eosinophilic Leukemia
  • Ependymoma – Childhood
  • Ewing Sarcoma – Childhood and Adolescence
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Extracranial Germ Cell Tumor – Childhood
  • Extragonadal Germ Cell Tumor
  • Follicular Dendritic Cell Sarcoma
  • Familial GIST
  •  Familial Adenomatous Polyposis
  •  Familial Pancreatic Cancer
  • Familial Non-VHL Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma
  • Familial Malignant Melanoma
  • Fallopian Tube Cancer
  • Fibrous Histiocytoma of Bone
  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD)
  • Germ Cell Tumors
  • Gastro-Esophageal Junction Cancer
  • Gastric Cancer
  • Gallbladder Cancer
  • Hodgkin Lymphoma
  •  Head and Neck Cancer
  •  Hairy Cell Leukemia
  •  Hereditary Pancreatitis
  •  Hereditary Mixed Polyposis Syndrome
  •  HIV/AIDS-Related Cancer
  •  Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer
  •  Hereditary Papillary Renal Carcinoma
  •  Hereditary Leiomyomatosis and Renal Cell Cancer
  •  Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer
  •  Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST)
  • Large Bowel and Rectal Neuroendocrine Tumors
  • Lynch Syndrome
  • Li-Fraumeni Syndrome
  • Myeloma
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Mouth and Oropharyngeal Cancer
  • Molar Pregnancy
  • Mesothelioma Cancer
  • Merkel Cell Skin Cancer
  • Men’s Cancer
  • Melanoma Skin Cancer
  • Mediastinal Germ Cel Tumors
  • Malignant Schwannoma
  •  Mastocytosis
  • Meningioma
  • Medulloblastoma – Childhood
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)
  • MYH or MUTYH Associated Polyposis
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type-1
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type-2
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors
  •  Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Pancreas
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Lung
  • Neuroblastoma – Childhood
     Nasopharyngeal Cancer
  • Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer
  • Neurofibromatosis Type-1
  • Neurofibromatosis Type-2
  • Nevoid Basal Cell Carcinoma Syndrome
  •  Ovarian Cancer
  • Osteosarcoma – Childhood and Adolescence
  • Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer
  • Parathyroid Cancer
  • Pituitary Gland Tumor
  • Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome
  • Pseudomyxoma Peritonei
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Phaeochromocytoma and
  • Paraganglioma
  • Persistent Trophoblastic Disease and Choriocarcinoma
  • Pleuropulmonary Blastoma – Childhood
  • Penile Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Peritoneal Cancer
  • Penis Cancer
  • Retinoblastoma – Childhood
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Rare Cancers
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma – Childhood 
  • Stomach Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma
  • Small Bowel Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)
  • Small Bowel Cancer
  • Skin Cancer (Non-Melanoma)
  • Signet Cell Cancer
  • Secondary Cancer
  • Salivary Gland Cancer
  • Sarcoma of Specific Organs
  • Sezary Syndrome
  • Tonsil Cancer
  • Tongue Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Thymus Gland Tumors
  • Testicular Cancer
  • T Cell Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex
  • Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Unknown Primary Cancer (UPC)
  • Urethral Cancer
  • Ureter and Renal Pelvis
  • Vulvar Cancer
  • Vaginal Cancer
  • Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome
  • Vascular Tumor
  •  Wilms’ Tumor – Childhood
  • Womb Cancer
  • Waldenstrom’s
  • Macroglobulinemia
  • Werner Syndrome
The situation of every cancer patient is different and this is the reason why their symptoms can highly differ as well.

 

 
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