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
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
Cancer is due to proliferation of abnormal cells, which develop from
bodys 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
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 bodys 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-
Is cancer contagious?
- 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
- Chronically irritated & damaged tissues are more likely to
develop a malignant change.
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.