Normally, the human cells grow and divide to form new ones as we need them. Old or damaged ones die, and new ones take their place. Cancer is used to describe a collection of diseases in which abnormal cells in the body divide uncontrollably, negatively affecting and spreading to other tissues and parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.
Where does it start?
Cancer can start almost anywhere in the body which is made up of trillions of cells.
The normal process of cell breakdown is disrupted. Old or damaged cells survive instead of dying, and new ones form when they are not needed. These extra cells can divide uncontrollably and may form what is called a tumor. Cancers of the blood, e.g. leukaemia, do not form solid tumors (masses of tissue). Also, as tumors grow, cancer cells can break off and travel to distant places in the body to form new tumors far from the original tumor.
How/why does it happen?
Cancer is generally a genetic disease caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells normally function.
It can be inherited from parents or arise as a result of errors that occur as cells grow and divide or caused by damage to DNA by certain environmental exposures such as tobacco smoke, radiation, ultraviolet rays from the sun, etc.
Types of cancer
There are over 100 types, most of which are named after the organ or tissue where the cancers form. For example, breast, lung, pancreatic, brain, eye, throat, colorectal (colon), and so on.
- Immunosuppressive medicines after organ transplant
- Obesity & physical inactivity
- Sunlight & other environmental risk factors
- Chronic Inflammation
- Cancer-causing substances
The following are actions you can take to lower your risk of developing cancer.
- Key Lifestyle Changes
- Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
- Protect your skin by applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing such as sunglasses and hats
- Maintain a healthy weight because obesity can increase ones risk of developing cancers such as endometrial (uterine), breast in postmenopausal women and colorectal cancer
- Get tested for hepatitis C
- Limit alcohol intake
- Screening Tests
It is important to check the body for cancer before one develops it. Treatment works best with cancers that are detected early enough, and can, in most cases, reduce the chances of dying from that cancer.