What is Cancer

In simple terms, cancer is an abnormal growth of body cells. Each one of us is born with a potential for cancer. One cannot "Catch" it as one would an infection or a cold. When the programming of a cell or a group of cells is affected, growth may become uncontrolled. Some of the factors that can alter the code are chronic irritation, tobacco, smoke and dust, radioactive substances, age, sex, race and heredity. While one cannot control many of these factors , we need to be aware of the ones we can control of. Prevention is definitely better than treatment of cancer. No one yet talks of cure, treatment.

What is the difference between normal and malignant cells?

Normal cells grow in a well regulated pattern. When cancer sets in, a group of cells suddenly starts multiplying in a haphazard and uncontrolled way, forming lumps or tumors. a malignant tumor never stops growing and can spread to other parts of the body.

Broadly, following types cancers can be generally related to life style.

(1) Cancer of the Bladder. This is a slow growing cancer, and responds well to treatment. Tobacco and chronic irritation are prime causes. House Painters, hair dressers, truck drivers, textile workers and printers are at a risk due to the chemicals they are constantly in touch. Blood in urine and painful while passing of urine are symptoms to beware.


(2) Breast Cancer.Women who have menstruated early, with late or no pregnancies, late menopause, who have not breast fed her babies, are particularly at risk. If there is a family history of cancer - like mother, sister, massi or naani - please treat it as an early warning sign. Learn and practice Breast Self-Examination, and have Mammograms as recommended by your gynecologist. Evaluate diet too, too much of fat in your diet is a certain culprit. Selenium found in the soft bones of the fish, as well as whole grain protect against breast cancer. Exercise on regular basis.


(3) Cervical Cancer. The most common of women's cancer in India. This is a slow growing cancer that can easily be detected by a Pap smear. Not all Dysplasia become cancerous, women who menstruate early, marry early, with many sex partners, many children and poor anti natal care, as well as poor genital hygiene are likely to get this cancer. Intake of vitamin A and C and B folate are good as preventives. Intake of tobacco increases the chances of getting this cancer by 50%


(4) Colorectal Cancer. This is linked to high fat and low fiber diet. It is a rich man’s disease, and prevalent in the richer countries. Diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, lower back or bladder, or a change in bowel habits are symptoms of this cancer.


(5) Head and Neck Cancer. This is a cancer of Indian sub-continent. It includes cancer of mouth and throat. Any non healing ulcer in oral cavity, change of voice or persistent throat irritation are few symptoms. Tobacco chewing, smoking and alcohol are the main causative agents. Recently infections with Human papilloma virus (HPV) has been attributed as a causative agent. As a preventive measure one should abstain from tobacco and alcohol in any form.


(6) Esophageal Cancer. Tobacco and alcohol predispose you to this cancer. Also pickled foods and too much spice. Symptoms are trouble in swallowing, choking, pain and spasms in the throat. Vitamin A and C are recommended as retardants.


(7) Cancer In the Eyes. It can be of several types. Intense exposure to U/V rays of the sun may cause it. Light eyed persons are at greater risk of melanoma.


What is the difference between normal and malignant cells?


Normal cells grow in a well regulated pattern. When cancer sets in, a group of cells suddenly starts multiplying in a haphazard and uncontrolled way, forming lumps or tumors. a malignant tumor never stops growing and can spread to other parts of the body.

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