You are on page 1of 5

Cancer /knsr/ (


(medical term: malignant neoplasm) is a large, heterogeneous class

of diseasesin which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth, invasion that intrudes upon and destroys adjacent tissues, and often metastasizes, wherein the tumor cells spread to other locations in the body via thelymphatic system or through the bloodstream. These three malignant properties of cancer differentiate malignant tumors from benign tumors, which do not grow uncontrollably, directly invade locally, or metastasize to regional lymph nodes or distant body sites like brain, bone, liver, or other organs. Researchers divide the causes of cancer into two groups: those with an environmental cause, and those with a hereditary genetic cause. Cancer is primarily an environmental disease, though genetics influence the risk of some cancers.

Common environmental factors leading to cancer include tobacco use, poor


diet andobesity, infection, radiation, lack of physical activity, and environmental pollutants. environmental factors cause or enhance abnormalities in the genetic material of cells.


Cell reproduction

is an extremely complex process that is normally tightly regulated by several classes of genes, including oncogenes andtumor suppressor genes. Hereditary or acquired abnormalities in these regulatory genes can lead to the development of cancer. A small percentage of cancers, approximately five to ten percent, are entirely hereditary. The presence of cancer can be suspected on the basis of clinical signs and symptoms, or findings aftermedical imaging. Definitive diagnosis of cancer, however, requires the microscopic examination of a biopsyspecimen. Most cancers can be treated, with the most important modalities being chemotherapy,radiotherapy and surgery. The prognosis in cancer cases can be greatly influenced by the type and location of the cancer and the extent of disease. While cancer can affect people of all ages, and a few types of cancer are more common in children than in adults, the overall risk of developing cancer generally increases with age, at least up to age 80-85 yr. In 2007, cancer caused about 13% of all human deaths worldwide (7.9 million). Rates are rising as more people live to an old age and as mass lifestyles changes occur in the developing world. Cancer symptoms can be divided into three groups: Local symptoms: are restricted to the site of the primary cancer. They can include lumps or swelling (tumor), hemorrhage (bleeding from the skin, mouth or anus), ulceration and pain. Although local pain commonly occurs in advanced cancer, the initial swelling is often painless. Metastatic symptoms: are due to the spread of cancer to other locations in the body. They can include enlarged lymph nodes (which can be felt or sometimes seen under the skin), hepatomegaly (enlarged liver) or splenomegaly (enlarged spleen) which can be felt in the abdomen, pain or fracture of affected bones, andneurological symptoms.

Systemic symptoms: occur due to distant effects of the cancer that are not related to direct or metastatic spread. Some of these effects can include weight loss (poor appetite and cachexia), fatigue, excessivesweating (especially night sweats), anemia (low red blood cell count) and other specific conditions termedparaneoplastic phenomena. These may be mediated by immunological or hormonal signals from the cancer cells.

None of these non-specific symptoms are diagnostic, as many of these symptoms commonly occur in patients who do not have cancer.

It is almost always impossible to prove exactly what caused a cancer in any individual, because most cancers have multiple possible causes. For example, if a person who uses tobacco heavily develops lung cancer, then it was very probably caused by the tobacco use, but since everyone has a small chance of developing lung cancer as a result of air pollution or radiation, then there is a tiny chance that the smoker's lung cancer actually developed because of air pollution or radiation. Cancers are primarily an environmental disease with 90-95% of cases attributed to environmental factors and 5-10% due to genetics.

Environmental, as used by cancer researchers, means any cause that is

not genetic, not merely pollution. Common environmental factors that contribute to cancer death include tobacco (25-30%), diet and obesity (30-35%), infections (15-20%), radiation (both ionizing and non-ionizing, up to 10%), stress, lack of physical activity, and environmental pollutants.

Main article: Infectious causes of cancer Worldwide approximately 18% of cancers are related to infectious diseases. This proportion varies in different regions of the world from a high of 25% in Africa to less than 10% in the developed world.
[1] [1]

Viruses are usual infectious agents that cause cancer but bacteria and parasites may also have

an effect. A virus that can cause cancer is called an oncovirus. These include human papillomavirus (cervical carcinoma), Epstein-Barr virus (B-cell lymphoproliferative disease and nasopharyngeal carcinoma), Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (Kaposi's Sarcoma and primary effusion lymphomas), hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses (hepatocellular carcinoma), and Human T-cell leukemia virus-1 (T-cell leukemias). Bacterial infection may also increase the risk of cancer, as seen in Helicobacter pyloriinduced gastric carcinoma.

Parasitic infections strongly associated with cancer include Schistosoma


haematobium (squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder) and the liver flukes, Opisthorchis viverrini and Clonorchis sinensis (cholangiocarcinoma).

Seven Warning Signs of Cancer

The American Cancer Society has identified 7 symptoms which could be a sign of cancer. A change in bowel or bladder habits A sore that does not heal Unusual bleeding or discharge from any place A lump in the breast or other parts of the body Chronic indigestion or difficulty in swallowing Obvious changes in a wart or mole Persistent coughing or hoarseness

If you experience any of these warning signs, you should see your doctor right away. It does not mean you have cancer, but it is a sign you should not ignore. Below are lists of symptoms for various parts of the body. It is important to note that the listed symptoms can also be a sign of a benign disease. It does not necessarily mean that cancer is present. Other symptoms to report to your doctor: Prostate Colon Bladder Blood in the urine Burning with urination Bladder spasms/pain Intense urge to urinate Blood on the stool or in the toilet water Diarrhea alternately with constipation Persistent diarrhea or constipation Change in the size, shape of the stool Abdominal or pelvic pain Excessive/unusual gas, bloating Weight loss Weakness A need to urinate frequently, especially at night Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine Inability to urinate Weak or interrupted flow of urine Painful or burning urination Painful ejaculation Blood in urine or semen Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

How is cancer classified?

There are five broad groups that are used to classify cancer. 1. Carcinomas are characterized by cells that cover internal and external parts of the body such as lung, breast, and colon cancer. 2. Sarcomas are characterized by cells that are located in bone, cartilage, fat, connective tissue, muscle, and other supportive tissues. 3. Lymphomas are cancers that begin in the lymph nodes and immune system tissues. 4. Leukemias are cancers that begin in the bone marrow and often accumulate in the bloodstream. 5. Adenomas are cancers that arise in the thyroid, the pituitary gland, the adrenal gland, and other glandular tissues. Cancers are often referred to by terms that contain a prefix related to the cell type in which the cancer originated and a suffix such as -sarcoma, -carcinoma, or just -oma. Common prefixes include:

Adeno- = gland Chondro- = cartilage Erythro- = red blood cell Hemangio- = blood vessels Hepato- = liver Lipo- = fat Lympho- = white blood cell Melano- = pigment cell Myelo- = bone marrow Myo- = muscle Osteo- = bone Uro- = bladder Retino- = eye Neuro- = brain

How is cancer diagnosed and staged? Early detection of cancer can greatly improve the odds of successful treatment and survival. Physicians use information from symptoms and several other procedures to diagnose cancer. Imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, and ultrasound scans are used regularly in order to detect where a tumor is located and what organs may be affected by it. Doctors may also conduct an endoscopy, which is a procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera and light at one end, to look for abnormalities inside the body.

Extracting cancer cells and looking at them under a microscope is the only absolute way to diagnose cancer. This procedure is called a biopsy. Other types of molecular diagnostic tests are frequently employed as well. Physicians will analyze your body's sugars, fats, proteins, and DNA at the molecular level. For example, cancerous prostate cells release a higher level of a chemical called PSA (prostate-specific antigen) into the bloodstream that can be detected by a blood test. Molecular diagnostics, biopsies, and imaging techniques are all used together to diagnose cancer.

How is cancer treated?

Cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer (how much it has spread), age, health status, and additional personal characteristics. There is no single treatment for cancer, and patients often receive a combination of therapies and palliative care. Treatments usually fall into one of the following categories: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, or gene therapy.

The opposite of benign is malignant tumor. Malignant tumors are cancer, where the cancer cells can invade and damage tissues and organs near the tumor. Also, cancer cells can break away from a malignant tumor and enter the lymphatic system or the bloodstream. This is how cancer spreads from the original tumor to form new tumors in other parts of the body (aka metastasize). However, although benign tumors are mostly harmless, they cause more than 13,000 annual deaths in the USA, which can be compared to more than 500,000 annual deaths from cancer (malignant tumors). A type of benign tumor that used to be called "benign fibrous mesothelioma" can form around the lungs in the pleura. This type of tumor starts in the tissues under the mesothelium and is not a type of mesothelioma. This is typically not cancerous, but can later progress to it.