Cancer is abnormal cell growth. It is the most common cause of death in mumbai, accounting for more than 11,009 deaths in 2016. 29,738 Mumbaikars were diagnosed with cancer in 2016 .There are about 200 different types of cancer and most areas of the body can be affected.
Avoiding risk factors can prevent some cancers. For others, early detection and treatment is the best way to improve your chance of a cure.
Cancers and their stages
Types of Tumours
A tumour is a lump or growth of abnormal cells. It can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). A benign tumour is made up of cells that are similar to normal cells. They do not cause problems unless they grow very large and begin to press on other organs in the body.
Malignant tumours are made up of cancer cells and they usually grow much faster than a benign tumour. If left untreated, they may spread into surrounding tissue and to other parts of the body, and cause serious problems.
Cancer involves abnormal cell growth
Generally, cancer occurs when the normal cells in our body grow in an uncontrolled way. Our bodies are made up of billions of different types of cells. We are always making new cells. This enables us to grow, replace worn-out cells and heal damaged cells after an injury. Special genes make sure the new cells develop and behave the way they should.
If these genes are damaged, our cells can multiply rapidly and grow abnormally. This abnormal cell growth may turn into a cancer. If cancer cells replace too many healthy cells, the affected organ can no longer work properly.
Where Cancers Begin
How Cancers Spread
A cancer begins to spread when part of the original tumour (primary tumour) breaks away from where it started and travels to nearby tissue or to another part of the body The cancer cells then start to grow in that area.
A malignant tumour that spreads its cells into nearby tissues is known as an invasive cancer. When a cancer spreads from one part of the body to another, it is known as a secondary cancer or a ‘metastasis’.
For a cancer to grow bigger than a pinhead and spread, it has to grow its own blood supply. This is called angiogenesis. Without this blood supply, the cells at the edge of the tumour will die from lack of oxygen.
Cancer cells produce substances that allow them to move through the body much more easily than normal cells. Also, cancer cells do not stick together as well as normal cells.
Many cancers are classified according to stages, numbered 1 to 4. Stage reflects the size of the cancer and how far the cancer has spread.
Stages are also related to the severity of the cancer. Stage 1 is usually the least severe, small and confined to a local area of the body, while stage 4 is generally called metastatic or secondary cancer, as it has spread to other parts of the body. Knowing the stage of a cancer helps medical professionals decide on the best treatment to use.
Risk factors for cancer
The exact cause of most cancers is unknown and there is no one cause for any type of cancer. Some risk factors are likely to cause cancer, whereas others will only slightly increase the likelihood of developing cancer. A combination of genetic and environmental factors may increase the risk of cancer.
Early detection of some cancers
Remission – disappearance of symptoms of cancer
Cancer that responds to treatment either stops growing or starts to shrink. This means that the signs and symptoms of cancer disappear. Doctors call this remission. A remission can last anywhere from months to years.
Where to get help
Currae Cancer Clinic
Things to remember
Treatment for Cancer
There are three main types of standard treatment that are used in cancer care. Each one can be used to try to cure cancer, to relieve symptoms, to help other treatments work better or to improve survival.
You may be given one treatment only or a combination of treatments. Some people may also use complementary and alternative therapies. When used alongside your conventional cancer treatment, some of these therapies can make you feel better and improve quality of life. Others may not be so helpful and in some cases may be harmful. It is advisable to discuss any treatments with your doctor.
Another cancer treatment is the use of hormone therapy. There is ongoing research in new cancer treatments, and some of these may involve laser treatment, cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy and high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU).
Sometimes, a cancer is diagnosed when it is very advanced. This may mean that standard treatment is not going to cure the cancer. When a cure is unlikely, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other treatments can relieve symptoms and help the person feel as comfortable as possible. They may also prolong life. This is called palliative treatment.