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Cancer is a silent pandemic

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Today cancer is identified as a silent pandemic based on the World Health Organization (WHO)
presented data. It showed rapid growth from time to time. In 2020, there were 19.3 million new
cancer cases and around 10 million cancer-related deaths worldwide. In 2040, WHO projects
around 28.9 million new cancer cases and 16.2 million cancer-related deaths a year. This data
indicates the importance of understanding cancer as a general public.

Cancer Biology

A disease known as cancer occurs when certain body cells proliferate out of control and invade other bodily regions. With trillions of cells making up the human body, cancer can begin almost anywhere. Human cells normally divide and grow to create new cells when the body requires them. New cells replace old ones when they die as a result of aging or injury.

This controlled process can occasionally malfunction, causing damaged or aberrant cells to proliferate and grow when they shouldn’t. Tumors are lumps of tissue that can be formed by these cells. Cancerous or non-cancerous tumors can exist.

Adjacent tissues may be invaded by malignant tumors (Cancerous tumors), which can then spread to them and even grow deeper into the body to form new tumors.

Tumors classified as benign (non-cancerous) do not invade or spread to nearby tissues. After removal, benign tumors seldom grow back, but malignant tumors can. However, benign tumors can occasionally grow to be fairly large.

Based on the WHO data, bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon & rectal cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, and pancreatic cancer are commonly identified cancer types.

Signs and symptoms

Cancer doesn’t show any symptoms when it first starts. The mass may develop symptoms or signs as it grows or ulcerates. The type and location of the cancer determine the results. There aren’t many distinct symptoms. Many times, people with other conditions experience these as well. Cancer is a “great imitator” that can be challenging to diagnose.

Local symptoms

The tumor’s mass or ulceration may cause localized symptoms. For instance, the mass effects of lung cancer can obstruct the bronchus, causing coughing or pneumonia; esophageal cancer can narrow the esophagus, making swallowing difficult or painful; and colorectal cancer can cause the bowel to narrow or become blocked, which can alter bowel habits.

Systemic symptoms

Systemic symptoms could be brought on by the cancer’s reaction to the body. Fatigue, inadvertent weight loss, or skin changes are a few examples of this. Some cancers can induce cachexia, a persistent loss of muscle mass and weakness brought on by a systemic inflammatory state.

Metastasis

The spread of cancer to different parts of the body is known as metastasis. The original tumor is referred to as the primary tumor, while the spread-out ones are called metastatic tumors. The majority of cancers have metastasis. Metastasized cancer accounts for the majority of cancer-related deaths.

Cancer screening

Screening is the process of looking for abnormal cells that could develop into cancer or cancer in people who do not exhibit any symptoms. Numerous screening tests have demonstrated the ability to identify cancer early on and lower the risk of cancer-related death.

Several cancer screening tests can be identified,

Breast cancer screening – Mammogram

Cervical cancer screening – Pap test, Human Papillomavirus

Colorectal cancer screening – Colonoscopy, Sigmoidoscopy, stool test

Lung cancer screening – Helical computed tomography

Risk factors

Usually, it is impossible to pinpoint the precise reason why some people get cancer while others do not. However, studies have indicated that a person’s risk of acquiring cancer may be raised by specific risk factors.

Age – The biggest risk factor for any type of cancer is getting older.

Alcohol – Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer, particularly in the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, and breast.

Diet – Certain nutrients or dietary elements have been related to either a higher or lower risk of developing cancer.

Obesity – People with obesity may be at higher risk for developing several cancers, including those of the breast (in women who have undergone menopause), colon, rectum, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, and gallbladder.

Infectious agents – Several pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites, can either directly cause cancer or increase the risk of cancer development. Certain viruses can adversely impact several biological processes, including lowering immunity, reducing the body’s capacity to fight off infections that can cause cancer, and interfering with signaling pathways that regulate cell division and growth. Moreover, it causes chronic inflammation, which raises the risk of cancer.

Radiation – Ionizing radiation has the potential to damage DNA, leading to cancer. Ionizing radiation includes things like radon, x-rays, gamma rays, and other high-energy radiation sources. However, radiation from non-ionizing, lower-energy sources, such as cell phone radiation and visible light cannot cause human cancer.    

Sunlight – Sun lamps and the sun itself all emit ultraviolet (UV) light. UV radiation exposure damages the skin and has the potential to cause skin cancer. It also causes early aging of the skin.

Tabacco – One of the main causes of cancer and cancer-related deaths is tobacco use. Due to the numerous chemicals in tobacco products and secondhand smoke that damage DNA, people who use these products or are frequently around secondhand smoke are at an increased risk of developing cancer.

However, a healthy weight, regular exercise, and adopting a nutrient-dense diet may all help reduce the chance of getting some types of cancer.

Prevention

Active steps to lower the risk of cancer are known as cancer prevention. Cancer is typically preventable. Consider these lifestyle tips to help prevent cancer, Taking a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, protecting the skin by avoiding the sun, protecting against viral infections, and regular medical care.

Treatment for cancer

There are many different cancer treatment options. The type of treatment you receive will depend on the type and stage of your cancer. For some cancer patients, there might be only one course of treatment. Nonetheless, most patients receive a combination of treatments in addition to surgery, such as chemotherapy and or radiation therapy. You may also be given immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy.

Chemotherapy treatment – Chemotherapy is a kind of cancer treatment in which drugs are used to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy helps to slow or halt the rapid growth and division of cancer cells.

Radiation therapy – High radiation doses are used in radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, to destroy cancer cells and reduce tumor size.

Hormone therapy – One type of cancer treatment called hormone therapy slows or even reverses the growth of cancers that use hormones to spread. Other names for hormone therapy include endocrine therapy, hormonal therapy, and hormone treatment.

Immunotherapy – One kind of cancer treatment that boosts your immune system’s ability to combat cancer is immunotherapy. Your body uses the immune system to fight off infections and other illnesses. It consists of organs, lymphatic system tissues, and white blood cells.

Biological therapy includes immunotherapy as a subtype. One form of cancer treatment that uses materials derived from living things is called biological therapy.

Surgery – The surgeon removes the cancer from your body as part of the cancer treatment.

Stem cell transplant – Individuals undergoing high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy which are used to treat certain cancers, blood disorders, and autoimmune disorders who have had their blood-forming stem cells destroyed can restore their stem cells by receiving a stem cell transplant.

Targeted therapy – Specific proteins that control the growth, division, and metastasis of cancer cells are the focus of this type of cancer treatment. It is the cornerstone of precision medicine.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/cancer-prevention/art-20044816
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12194-cancer#symptoms-and-causes
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/what-is-cancer
https://www.who.int/health-topics/cancer#tab=tab_1

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