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Why Cancer is the 2nd Leading Cause of Death

Cancer is the growth of uncontrolled and abnormal cells at any point in the body with the ability to spread to another part of the body. These are different from benign tumours, which do not spread to other parts of the body. It is the second-leading cause of death in the world. But survival rates are high this day, thanks to improvement in the screening and treatments.

There are over 200 types of cancer which occur in different types, and it can be divided into different major types based on its origin in the human body, the main types are

Carcinoma, the common type of cancer, this type of cancer begins in the skin or tissue covering the surface of internal organs and glands. It usually forms solid tumours. Carcinoma is the most common types of cancer. Examples are prostrate, breast, lung and colorectal cancer.

Sarcomas, start in the tissues that connect and support the body. It can develop in fat, muscle, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels, lymph vessels, cartilage or bone.

Leukaemias these are cancer of the blood. Leukaemia occurs when healthy blood cells start changing and growing uncontrollably. Four main types of leukaemia are acute lymphocyte leukaemia, chronic lymphocyte leukaemia, acute myeloid leukaemia and chronic myeloid leukaemia.

Lymphomas this is a type that starts in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the connection of glands and vessels that help in fighting infection. We have two main types of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Cancer can occur in many types that can be learned, there are over 200 of them

The disease can spread to various parts of the body through bloodstreams, lymph node which is the first place it spread to, during metastasis cancer cells grow and may develop into new tumours or cancer.

Cancer Cells

It can be caused by several factors which may include inherited genetic defects, infections, environmental factors such as air pollution, poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and heavy alcohol drinking can cause damage to DNA and lead to cancer.

When a cell fails to repair DNA damage, it undergoes so-called programmed cell death. Cancer occurs when cells grow, divide and spread abnormally instead of self-destruction normally.

Cancer Symptoms, Control and Palliative Care

The control of the symptoms is not typically thought of as a treatment directed at cancer, it is an important determinant of the quality of life of patients, and plays an important role in the decision whether the patient is able to undergo other treatments.

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Although doctors generally have the therapeutic skills to reduce pain, Chemotherapy-induced

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea, haemorrhage and other
  • Common problems in patients

The multidisciplinary speciality of palliative care has arisen specifically in response to the symptom control needs of this group of patients. Pain medication, such as morphine and oxycodone, and antiemetics, drugs to suppress nausea and vomiting, are very commonly used in patients with cancer-related symptoms.

Improved antiemetics such as ondansetron and analogues, as well as aprepitant, have made aggressive treatments much more feasible in cancer patients. The pain can be associated with continuing tissue damage due to the disease process or the treatment (i.e. surgery, radiation, chemotherapy).

Although there is always a role for environmental factors and affective disturbances in the genesis of pain behaviours, these are not usually the predominant etiologic factors in patients with cancer pain. Some patients with severe pain associated with cancer are nearing the end of their lives, but in all cases, palliative therapies should be used to control the pain.

Issues such as the social stigma of using opioids, work and functional status, and health care consumption can be concerns and may need to be addressed in order for the person to feel comfortable taking the medications required to control his or her symptoms.

The typical strategy for the pain management is to get the patient as comfortable as possible using the least amount of medications possible but opioids, surgery, and physical measures are often required. Historically, doctors were reluctant to prescribe narcotics to terminal cancer patients due to addiction and respiratory function suppression.

The palliative care movement, a more recent offshoot of the hospice movement, has engendered more widespread support for preemptive pain treatment for cancer patients. The World Health Organization also noted uncontrolled cancer pain as a worldwide problem and established a “ladder” as a guideline for how practitioners should treat pain in patients who have cancer.

Cancer-related fatigue is a very common problem for cancer patients and has only recently become important enough for oncologists to suggest treatment, even though it plays a significant role in many patients’ quality of life.

Risk factors of cancer Include

Cancer Cells
  • Age(65+)
  • Drinking alcohol heavily
  • Sun/Radiation exposure
  • Obesity
  • Unsafe Sex
  • Family History
  • Environment( being exposed to chemicals, smoke or radiation and so on.

Effects of cancer include

  • Pain having cancer or during treatments
  • Fatigue having cancer or during treatment
  • Breathing difficulty during treatment
  • Nausea having cancer or during treatment(medication available)
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Chemical changes in the body
  • Brain and nervous system problems
  • Unusual immune system reaction to cancer, cancer that spread, cancer that returns and so on.

Cancer can be prevented by

  • Stopping smoking
  • Avoiding excessive sunlight exposure
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising steadily
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Moderate alcohol drinking
  • Going for cancer screening and
  • Asking your doctor for immunization.

It can be solved or treated depending on the type or stage of cancer. In some people, diagnosis and treatment can occur at the same time if the cancer is surgically removed.

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The treatment can be received by one or more of the following components which are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of two or three of these treatments.

Medications that help in suppressing the pains and symptoms

Acetaminophen

In normal amounts, this drug is usually safe. But large doses over long periods may lead to liver or kidney damage. Taking it with alcohol can also harm the liver. If you’ve been diagnosed with liver disease, talk with your doctor before taking acetaminophen.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)

Such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and antioxidant-containing ingredients. These medicines lower inflammation along with pain. Side effects can include stomach problems and ulcers, especially if you drink alcohol or smoke. Over the long run, NSAIDs may raise your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Check with your doctor before taking a pain reliever. Discuss other medications and treatments you’re on. That’s especially important if you have other medical conditions, such as kidney problems. Using NSAIDS may worsen how well your kidneys work if you have kidney disease.

Chemotherapy

This is the treatment of cancer with drugs (“anticancer drugs”) that can destroy cancer cells. In current usage, the term “chemotherapy” usually refers to cytotoxic drugs which affect rapidly dividing cells in general, in contrast with targeted therapy (see below).

Chemotherapy drugs interfere with cell division in various possible ways, e.g. with the duplication of DNA or the separation of newly formed chromosomes.

Most forms of chemotherapy target all rapidly dividing cells and are not specific to cancer cells, although some degree of specificity may come from the inability of many cancer cells to repair DNA damage, while normal cells generally can. Hence, chemotherapy has the potential to harm healthy tissue, especially those tissues that have a high replacement rate (e.g. intestinal lining).

Immunotherapy

This is referred to as a diverse set of therapeutic strategies designed to induce the patient’s own immune system to fight the tumour.

Contemporary methods for generating an immune response against tumours include intravesical BCG immunotherapy for superficial bladder cancer, and the use of interferons and other cytokines to induce an immune response in renal cell carcinoma and melanoma patients.

Cancer vaccines to generate specific immune responses are the subject of intensive research for a number of tumours, notably malignant melanoma and renal cell carcinoma.

Sipuleucel-T is a vaccine-like strategy in late clinical trials for prostate cancer in which dendritic cells from the patient are loaded with prostatic acid phosphatase peptides to induce a specific immune response against prostate-derived cells.

Synthetic lethality

This arises when a combination of deficiencies in the expression of two or more genes leads to cell death, whereas a deficiency in only one of these genes does not. The deficiencies can arise through mutations, epigenetic alterations or inhibitors of one or both of the genes.

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The patience’s cells are frequently deficient in a DNA repair gene, this DNA repair defect either may be due to mutation or, often, epigenetic silencing (see epigenetic silencing of DNA repair).

Radiation therapy

This is done using ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours. Radiation therapy can be administered externally via external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) or internally via brachytherapy.

The effects of radiation therapy are localised and confined to the region being treated. Radiation therapy injures or destroys cells in the area being treated (the “target tissue”) by damaging their genetic material, making it impossible for these cells to continue to grow and divide.

Although radiation damages both cancer cells and normal cells, most normal cells can recover from the effects of radiation and function properly. The goal of radiation therapy is to damage as many cancer cells as possible while limiting harm to nearby healthy tissue. Hence, it is given in many fractions, allowing healthy tissue to recover between fractions.

Radiation therapy may be used to treat almost every type of solid tumour, including cancers of the brain, breast, cervix, larynx, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate, skin, stomach, uterus, or soft tissue sarcomas. Radiation is also used to treat leukaemia and lymphoma.

Radiation dose to each site depends on a number of factors, including the radiosensitivity of each cancer type and whether there are tissues and organs nearby that may be damaged by radiation Learn more

Targeted therapies

This method first became available in the late 1990s, has had a significant impact on the treatment of some types of cancer, and is currently a very active research area. This constitutes the use of agents specific for the deregulated proteins of cancer cells.

Small molecule targeted therapy drugs are generally inhibitors of enzymatic domains on mutated, overexpressed or otherwise critical proteins within the cancer cell.

Prominent examples are the tyrosine kinase inhibitors imatinib (Gleevec/Glivec) and gefitinib (Iressa). Monoclonal antibody therapy is another strategy in which the therapeutic agent is an antibody which specifically binds to a protein on the surface of the cancer cells.

Targeted therapy can also involve small peptides as “homing devices” which can bind to cell surface receptors or affected extracellular matrix surrounding the tumour.

Culled from Article Biz | Cancer, Types, Causes, Effects And Solution

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