When people say the word ‘cancer’, there may be some different definitions and perspective of this word. For some, this can be the zodiac sign cancer which are people who are loyal, protective, intuitive, and caring. However, in this instance we are talking about the medical condition cancer and it is one of the leading cause of death in recent days.
What is cancer?
In general terms, cancer can be one of the leading causes of death and it is a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. This can cause healthy organs to be destroyed. The cancerous cells can start to develop in one area of the body and if not treated, this can spread to the rest of the body and this is called metastasis.
How does cancer cells appear in the body and grow?
Cancer cells first originated within tissues and, as they grow and divide, they diverge ever further from normalcy. Over time, these cells become increasingly resistant to the controls that maintain normal tissue — and as a result, they divide more rapidly than their progenitors and become less dependent on signals from other cells. This is caused by a mutation in the cell’s DNA and can rapidly grow into the rest of the body.
The different stages of cancer
There are four different cancer stages of which an individual goes through when they are first diagnosed with cancer. This include:
1. Stage I = This is when the cancer cells are new and they are developing on the site of the organ of the diagnosis. For example, if you were diagnosed with breast cancer, the cancer cells are in the breasts. This is also called early-stage cancer.
2. Stage II = This is when the cancer is larger and has grown into nearby tissues or lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small structures that work as filters for harmful substances.
3. Stage III = This is when the cancer has spread from where it started to at least one other body organ. This is also known as secondary / metastatic cancer.
4. Stage IV = This is when the cancer has spread to other parts of your body and it is considered incurable. It is also called advanced / metastatic cancer.
Treatments of cancer
There are many different cancer treatments when someone is diagnosed cancer and this can include:
· Surgery = a procedure in which a surgeon removes cancer from your body.
· Chemotherapy = a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
· Radiotherapy = a type of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours
· Immunotherapy = type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer
· Targeted therapy = a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread
· Hormone therapy = a treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer cells that use hormones to grow.
· Stem cell transplant = procedures that restore blood-forming stem cells in cancer patients who have had theirs destroyed by very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy
· Precision medications = when doctors select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on a genetic understanding of their disease
· Biomarker Testing = a way to look for genes, proteins, and other substances (called biomarkers or tumor markers) that can provide information about cancer.