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Home Diseases Cancer

Cancer

What is cancer?
The word Cancer is Latin word meaning Crab. It denotes a continuous, purposeless, unwanted and uncontrolled growth of cells. In our body, under normal circumstances, the number and growth of all the cells is a highly controlled mechanism. Cancer represents a failure of this system of limiting the growth of a particular type of cells in a tissue.

There is an excessive production of abnormal cells. These cells go into the surrounding tissues and cause damage. Through blood lymph vessels these cells may go to distant parts of the body and make new colonies of proliferating cells.

Is Cancer different from an infection?
When germs or bacteria invade body tissues they cause an infection. The body launches defense mechanisms against these foreign particles and destroys them.

Cancer is due to proliferation of abnormal cells, which develop from body’s own cells. So they are not recognized as foreign and continue to grow and invade without being attacked by body defenses.

Cancers become dangerous if they are detected late, that is at a stage when they have spread to other organs or have caused destruction to surrounding tissues. The secondary growths interferes with the functioning of the particular organ or site involved.

On the other hand, If the cancer is detected at an early stage, it can often be cured either by means of surgery or be other therapeutic means available.

Are there any specific factors, which cause cancer?
No single cause has been responsible for all cancers. It has been suggested that cancer factors, interfere with the body’s ability to check abnormal proliferation of cells. Agents, which cause cancer, can cause changes in the genetic constitution of cells. These oncogenes, as they are called, can change the nature of the life giving protein component of the cell (DNA or deoxy ribonucleic acid) which may then lead to impairment of the switching off mechanism.

Certain established carcinogenic factors are-
  • Tobacco smoking – associated with cancers of lung, mouth, throat and larynx and also esophagus, stomach kidney & bladder.

  • Ultra violet light from strong sunlight is responsible for increased incidence of skin cancers.

  • Viruses like Epstein Bar virus is associated with increased incidence of cancer of nasopharynx.

  • Betel nut, paan, gutkas chewing is associated with cancer of mouth.

  • Chronically irritated & damaged tissues are more likely to develop a malignant change.
Is cancer contagious?
NO, cancer cannot be passed from one individual to another. But there are certain cancers like liver cancer, which occurs more commonly in people infected with hepatitis B or hepatic C, which can spread easily from person to person. Also persons affected by HIV/AIDS, have a lowered immune defense mechanism and have a high incidence of cancer.

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