Understanding Cancer, its Diagnosis and Treatment - Medx Health Assistance
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Understanding Cancer, its Diagnosis and Treatment

Among the top 10 causes of morbidity and mortality, cancer remains on the second leading position with over 200 types.  This demonstrates the need to understand cancer and its diagnosis. Cancer is a cluster of multiple diseases, involving cell growth which is not normal for a human body. Moreover, cancer can develop anywhere in the body. It has the potential to invade or spread to other body parts.

Trillions of cells follow a rule of the body i.e. grow and divide, since the body needs cells to function daily. Each healthy cell has a particular life cycle, reproducing and dying off in a way that is set by the type of cell. New cells replace the old or damaged cells once they die. However, cancer interrupts this pattern and provokes cells to grow abnormally in the body. Certainly, changes or mutations in DNA can be the cause. Mutations can induce cells to grow instead of dying and form new cells when they’re not required. Tumors are developed when these extra cells divide uncontrollably. Apparently, tumors can cause numerous health problems, depending on where they have grown in the body, but not all tumors are cancerous.

  •  There are tumors which are noncancerous and do not spread in the body, named as benign tumors. In some cases, they can grow large and become a health problem, usually when they are pressed against neighboring organs or tissues. On the brighter side, these cancers don’t grow back once they are cut down.
  • Malignant tumors can spread to other parts of the body and are cancerous. Unlike benign tumors, these tumors tend to grow even after removal. 

Metastasis is the process in which few cancer cells travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to nearby areas or tissues of the body. Advanced cancers are the ones that metastasize and these cancers require more medication than others. 

 

Difference between Cancer cells and Normal cells

CANCER CELLS  NORMAL CELLS
  • Less specialized- Do not mature with functions. 
  • Specialized cells- Mature with specific functions. 
  • Cancer cells may influence normal cells, molecules and blood vessels. 
  • Normal cells don’t. 
  • Cancer cells might be capable of ignoring the signals, given to the cells to stop dividing. 
  • Normal cells do not ignore the signals and follow the grow and divide rule. 

 

Types of Cancer

Cancers are named after the area they have grown in and the kind of cells they are made of, even if they have extended to the other body parts. For instance, a cancer that begins in the kidney and spreads to the liver, will still be considered as kidney cancer. 

Some certain general kinds of cancer:

  • Carcinoma– A cancer that starts in the skin or the tissues that surrounds the surface of internal organs and glands. Carcinoma usually forms solid tumors, such as prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
  • Sarcoma– A cancer that starts in the connective tissues of the body. A sarcoma can mature in fat, muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels, lymph vessels, cartilage or bones. 
  • Leukemia– A blood cancer that begins when healthy blood cells grow uncontrollably. Mainly, four types of leukemia cancers are acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.
  • Lymphoma– A cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. A Lymphatic system is a web of vessels and glands that aids to fight infection. Two main kinds of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

 

Cancer diagnosis 

Lab Test– High or low level of particular substances in one’s body might be signs of a cancer, so tests like blood test, urine test or other body fluids that measure these substances can aid doctors to detect the disease. 

Imaging Test- The bones and internal organs are examined in a noninvasive way. Imaging tests used to detect cancer might include Computerized Tomography (CT) scan, bone scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, Ultrasound and X-ray. 

Biopsy– A procedure in which a sample of cells are removed and taken to the laboratory for further examinations. 

Treatments 

There are several treatments for cancer, the selection of treatment depends upon the type of cancer one has. Some people might be advised to opt only one treatment and others might get a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Surgery- A procedure in which surgeons remove the infected part or the cancer from the body as much as possible.

Chemotherapy- Different medications or drugs are used to kill rapidly-dividing cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy– Cancer cells are killed by using powerful, focused beams of radiations. High doses of radiation are used to shrink tumors in the body. 

Stem Cell Transplant– A procedure in which bone marrow is replaced with healthy cells, it is called hematopoietic stem cell transplant. This treatment is used to treat certain kinds of cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma or other blood and immune system diseases that are affecting bone marrow. The replacement cells can either be taken from their own body or from a donor.

Immunotherapy (Biological Therapy)- This treatment boosts one’s immune system by the help of some antibodies, so that the immune system can recognize cancer and fight it off.

Hormone Therapy– Few hormones that fuel certain cancers in the body, are blocked, so that it slows down the growth of the cancer. 

Targeted Drug Therapy– Certain drugs are made in use to precisely attack cancer cells and disturb their growth.

On the whole, there has been a lot of development in diagnosis and treatments of cancer. Moreover, numerous studies and researches are being carried out to investigate new ways of treating cancer.    

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