Cancer? Yes! Cancer!
What comes to mind when you hear the word cancer? Most people have the understanding that when someone has cancer their days are numbered on planet earth! Dreadful isn’t it?
Now, talking of cancer…
What is it? What causes it? Is it communicable? How does it affect you? Can it be treated? Can it be cured? How can it be avoided?
These are, or might be some of the questions many of you might be asking or probably soliloquizing about in your mind. And you might just find the answer you’re looking for if you keep reading
WHAT IS IT? (CANCER)
Cancer is very broad and there might be various definitions about it but simply, cancer is a disease that affects the human body.
What kind of disease? You might ask. It is a disease that results from cellular changes in the immune system. This disease causes the human cells to grow rapidly and divide uncontrollably and in some cases, it can also cause the human cells to grow and divide at a slower rate.
Normally, the human’s body cells have a natural regular pattern or function to receive instructions to die so that the body can replace it with a newer cell that will function better but when these cells are now cancerous, they lack the ability to receive such instructions to stop dividing itself and die. As a result of this, they build up in the body and nourish themselves with the nutrients meant for other cells.
Because of this improper fraction, the body also loses its regular function as this cancerous cells can form tumors leading to excessive changes in the immune system.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Cancer can be caused by many things, some of which can be avoidable like
~ Poor nutrition
~ Excess body weight
~ Lack of exercise / physical inactivity
~ Heavy intake of alcohol
However, one unavoidable risk factor that causes cancer is age as research has shown that about 80% of people diagnosed with cancer are people with ages of 50 and above.
Genetic factors can also contribute to the development of cancer as genes influence the production of proteins in a cell which (proteins) are responsible for giving instructions pertaining to cellular growth and division. So when there are irregular changes in one’s genes, it can lead to faulty instructions, hence resulting in cancer.
Also, some genetic alterations might occur after birth and factors like sun exposure and smoking can increase the risk of having cancer.
A person can also inherit cancer. This may be regarded as having a hereditary cancer syndrome and these inherited genetic mutations contribute to the development of 5-10% of cancer cases.
CAN IT BE TREATED?
Cancer can be treated and there are various approaches to the treatment of cancer some of which will be discussed below:
CHEMOTHERAPY: this treatment targets rapid growing and dividing cells and also helps to shrink tumors though it has severe side affects.
IMMUNOTHERAPY: this treatment helps to boost the immune system to be strong enough to fight cancerous cells.
RADIATION THERAPY: this treatment uses high radiation to shrink tumors before surgical operations and also kill cancerous cells.
HORMONE THERAPY: this treatment helps to change how certain hormones work in conjunction with the body’s ability to produce them. This approach can be taken when the body’s hormones play a function with a cancerous cell and you want it to take another function.
STEM CELL TRANSPLANT: this treatment involves removing cells (red or white blood cells) that radiation or chemotherapy has destroyed. After this is done, lab technicians help to strengthen these cells and put them back in the body. This is a usual approach taken for people with blood related cancers.
SURGERY: this is a treatment given to a cancerous patient who has a tumor. Surgeries also help to remove lymph nodes to prevent further spread of the disease.
PRECISION MEDICINE: this is a newer, developing approach which involves genetic testing of a person’s type of cancer to find out the best type of treatment method to use. This approach can also be referred to as personalized medicine.
CAN IT BE CURED?
As it stands now, there is no known cure for cancer as there are different types of cancer and there isn’t even a one cure for all but there are treatments that may likely cure you. Though it’s not that simple.
IS CANCER COMMUNICABLE?
The answer is no. Cancer is not contagious and cannot easily spread from one person to another especially through kissing close contact, sex, touching and the like. However, the most likely possible means by which cancer can be contracted is via organ or tissue transplantation.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOU?
Cancer affects the human body based on where or which part of the body is affected. There are some signs that show on a person who has cancer. Some of them include:
Changes in weight
Changes in bowel or bladder habits
Skin changes (sores, yellowing, redness or darkening of the skin)
Difficulty in swallowing
Muscle or joint pains
Unexplained bleeding or bruising
Night sweats, etc