What is Cancer? Types of Cancer Symptoms of Cancer

This resource gives you complete information about cancer, its types, symptoms, treatment and clarification about this dangerous disease.

What is Cancer?

The word 'cancer' means crab, probably derived form its crab like character of holding. Cancer is second leading cause of death, next to cardiovascular diseases. An uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells resulting into harmful tumour is called as Cancer.

Cancer is characterized by:-

1. Uncontrolled cells division or abnormal growth of cells.
2. Ability to invade adjacent tissues and even distant organs.
3. Loss of cell differentiation.
4. Cancer cells form tumours.
5. Cancer interferes with normal body functions which result in death of affected person.

Types of Cancer

a) Carcinomas:

These are the cancer of the epithelial tissue. Carcinomas are the commonest malignant tumours that arise from endodermal tissues such as skin or the epithelial lining of internal organs and glands. Majority of the cancers of the skin, colon, breast, prostate, lungs etc. are carcinomas.

b) Sarcoma:

These are the cancer that arises from mesodermal connective tissues and muscles. E.g. bone cancer (osteosarcoma), cartilage cancer (chondrosarcoma) and tumours in the skeletal muscles (Rhabdomyosarcoma) etc.

c) Lymphomas:

The cancers that arise from lymphoid tissue are called lymphomas. In this type of cancer there is an excessive production of lymphocytes by lymph nodes and spleen.

d) Leukemia:

This type of cancer develops from haematopoietic cells of bone marrow. Leukemia tends to proliferate as single cells. It is commonly called blood cancer. It is characterized by very high increase in number of poorly differentiated leucocytes and subsequent decrease in erythrocytes.

Symptoms of Cancer:

1. A persistent change in bowel in or bladder habits.
2. A sore on skin that does not heal.
3. Unusual bleeding or discharge through natural body orifices. Excessive loss of blood at the time of menstruation in women.
4. A thickening or lump in the breast or other body parts.
5. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
6. Obvious changes in a wart or mole, such as change in colour, and increase in size.
7. Nagging cough and hoarseness.

Preventive measures:

1. Use of mass media to create public awareness about the hazards of smoking and alcohol consumption. Cancer education helps to motivate people to seek early diagnosis of cancer.
2. Special efforts should be made to avoid excessive radiations.
3. Protective devices are used to protect workers from exposure to industrial carcinogens.
4. Legislative and restrictive laws should be enforced, such as display of statutory warning.

Treatment of Cancers:

a) Surgery:

Cancerous tissue is removed by surgery.

b) Radiations:

It includes destruction or cancerous tissue by exposing it to ionizing radiations like gamma rays, X-rays, Cobalt-60 and radium. However, radiations may cause damage to normal tissue around the cancerous tumour.

c) Chemotherapy:

Cytotoxic anticancer drugs or specific chemicals are used to kill cancerous cells by damaging DNA or interesting DNA synthesis.

d) Immunotherapy:

It is the recent approach of cancer treatment. Cancer immunotherapy seeks to evoke anticancer immunological defence mechanism of the body with the help of monoclonal antibodies especially linked with radioisotopes.


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