World Cancer Day 2023 – What Is Cancer?



World Cancer Day 2023: Expert Explains What Is Cancer

Cancer develops when some cells divide uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body. It is a fatal disease that can spread throughout the human body, which contains trillions of cells. Human cells generally develop and multiply by a process known as cell division in order to generate new cells as needed by the body. Cells die as they become old or injured, and new cells replace them. When an ordered mechanism of cell division fails, aberrant or damaged cells grow and reproduce when they should not. These cells can combine to produce cancerous tumors, which are tissue masses. In an interaction with OnlyMyHealth, Dr Shubham Garg,Senior Consultant, Surgical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Noidashares some insights related to cancer.

What Is Cancer

We are all aware that the human body is made up of tiny cells and each of these microscopic cells perform a different job. Collectively they run and maintain the different functions of our body that is required to perform daily activities. These cells multiply and die at the same time to maintain a constant number of cells. Cancer is a disease which affects this balance. Cells either multiply too fast or forget to die. This leads to an excessive number of cells which can present in various forms. In the case of breast, abnormal growth is present as a lump or mass in the breast. In the case of the head and neck, cancer appears as abnormal bleeding and a cheek ulcer.

Dr. Garg added that there can be various reasons for the cells to adopt this behaviour. It can happen due to external factors like exposure to radiation, as we saw in the case of Hiroshima due to Atomic Bombing, or due to exposure to irritant substances like tobacco and repeated trauma in the head and neck. Sometimes there are intrinsic factors also, like genetic-induced changes, where the cancers are said to be hereditary.

Also read: World Cancer Day 2023: Childhood Cancer, Its Types & Need For Early Diagnosis

Many times Doctors are unable to find the exact reason for the development of cancer. Most of the time, numerous elements are involved, and no single cause appears large enough to be identified. This is why there is no clear answer to the question of what causes cancer.

Types Of Cancerous Tumors

Benign tumors are not cancerous, meaning they do not spread to other parts of the body and do not invade nearby tissue. Benign tumors are usually smaller, more localized and can often be removed surgically.

The following are examples of common benign tumors:

  • Hemangiomas
  • Fibroids
  • Lipomas
  • Adenomas

On the other hand, malignant tumors are cancerous. Malignant tumors are more likely to grow and spread to other parts of the body, making them much more dangerous and harder to treat.

They can develop anywhere, following are the most commonly diagnosed malignant tumors.

  • breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • stomach cancer

According to WHO, the global cancer burden continues to rise, putting enormous physical, emotional, and financial strain on individuals, families, communities, and healthcare systems. Many healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries are unprepared to deal with this load, and a huge majority of cancer patients worldwide lack access to timely, high-quality diagnosis and treatment. Because of the early detection, quality treatment, and survivorship care, survival rates for many types of cancer are improving in countries with strong health care systems.