While cancer is still threatening the lives of many, inroads to a cure have been made. The deciding factor between survival and death seems to be early detection. Tests are available for colorectal and breast cancer for example which almost insure an excellent survival rate.
Cancer in its many forms has been a major cause of death for decades. The five major organs most affected by cancer are the lungs, breasts, prostate gland, colon/rectum and the uterus. Lung, prostate and colorectal cancer is a leading cause in males while females suffer early demise from breast cancer and uterine cancer.
Although obviously prostate applies exclusively to the male population and uterine cancer affects females only, both genders can be stricken by breast cancer. It is infrequent in men although more often goes undetected since men are not aware they can be affected.
Cancer cells are characterized as follows:
- Unrestricted control of growth.
- Capability of invading local tissues.
- Capable of spreading to distant parts of the body.
Although no cure has been discovered for all cancers scientists now understand the growth and applications of therapies that will delay growth and extend life. Primary causes are assumed to be heridity, environmental factors and exposure to radiation and chemicals.
Environmental factors include cigarette smoking and tobacco chewing (both primary causes of lung cancer). Exposure to asbestos is another causative factor. Research find that exposure to chemicals such as benzene, napthylamines and beryllium can cause cancer. occupational hazards like exposure to asbestos. Exposure to chemicals like benzene, napthylamines and beryllium also causes cancer. Radiation causes cancer in two ways: a) Direct effects and b) Indirect effects.
Direct effects: Exposure to radiation like X-rays, Gamma rays and UV rays are harmful to DNA of the cells and they produce permanent damage to DNA.
Indirect effects: In addition to direct effects on DNA, these rays produce “free radicals” which interact with DNA and other macromolecules leading to molecular damage.
It is alarming to note that natural UV rays from the sun can cause skin cancer. Fair skinned people are the ones more vulnerable to cancer due to UV rays. This type of skin cancer due to UV rays exposure is common in Australia and New Zealand.
UV rays produce: Damage to DNA and suppression of immune system.
There is evidence favoring the fact that radiation exposure causes cancer. One such fact is the increase of leukemia in Japan after the atom bomb explosion. Another is the development of thyroid cancer in later life among people who as children were exposed to therapeutic radiation in the neck. Lung cancer is heightened among miners who mine the radioactive ore. The possibility of developing cancer is greater among populations living near nuclear power stations.
Fortunately many types of cancer can be cured if diagnosed at an early stage. Treatment of cancer is done mainly in three ways:
- Radiation therapy
Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs that can destroy cancer cells. It has the potential to harm healthy tissues, especially those tissues that have a high replacement rate. There will be excessive hair loss due to chemotherapy. Radiation therapy involves exposing the part of the body body affected by cancer to X-rays. These radiations ionize the cancer cells and hopefully shrink the tumor. The effects of radiation therapy are localized and confined to the region being treated. Radiation therapy too has the disadvantage of affecting healthy cells. The best example of the surgical method is removal of the affected breast for the women suffering from breast cancer.
The lumpectomy is a removal of the lump if the cancer is diagnosed as not having spread to other body tissues. The radiation treatment is difficult to comprehend among non medical persons. It seems contra-indicated due to radiation being the causative factor initially. Leave the difficult decision of treatment assumed to have the most successful outcome to the physicians. It is recommended to get a second opinion even though your current physician has a 100% per cent track record for accuracy. Do not assume a good physician will be insulted by your preference to get a second opinion. This is your life we are discussing and a good physician will not object…
Cancer is one of the worst diseases that could affect mankind. Hence people are advised to undergo medical check-ups on a regular basis to find a cancer at an early stage of its development. The outcome is much improved in cases of early detection.