How can I survive cancer?
Among the non-communicable diseases in the world, cancers have become a major threat to human kind. According to the latest records, in 2020, 1,806,590 new cancer cases were diagnosed in United States.
Based on 2013-2017 health records, cancer mortality rate is 158.3 per 100,000 men and women per year. Based on 2015- 2017 data, approximately, 39.5% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer within their lifetime.
Therefore, it is no joke that we need to educate the society about the potential of carcinogenesis and its after effects.
Actually, How can I survive cancer? Is the most pathetic question many of the cancer patients have. Cancers can be cured. But the treatments may not be appealing.
what is a “Cancer”?
Cancer, in other terms, Tumor, is an abnormal mass of tissues, the growth of which is uncoordinated with that of a normal tissue.
With the loss of responsiveness to normal growth controls, it persists the growth in the same excessive manner after the cessation of the stimulus which evoked the change.
Tumors are made of 2 parts basically.
· Parenchyma, the part made of neoplastic cells
· Stroma, the non-neoplastic, connective tissues and blood supply.
Some of these can be curable while some can be fatal. Anyhow, they can cause emotional as well as physical suffering by a patient.
And that is why we need to look into it in detail. Here’s the scientific background of cancers for you.
They can be basically 2 types,
1. Benign cancers – The tumors which stay localized without spreading to distant sites. These can be locally excised and the patients generally survive.
2. Malignant cancers- The tumors that show a progressive invasion. These can be more destructive.
How can we differentiate between benign and malignant cancers?
Basically there are some characteristics that either of these cancer types show. In the means of differentiation and anaplasia, benign cancers are well differentiated while malignant tumors are more anaplastic.
For those who are wondering what that means, “Differentiation” means the extent to which the parenchymal cells of the tumor resemble their counterparts functionally and morphologically. So anaplasia means the opposite; undifferentiating.
When considering the rate of tumor growth, the malignant tumors grow faster than the benign tumors. And that feature correlates with the level of differentiation.
When looking at the local invasion, benign tumors don’t invade while malignant tumors show rapid invasion. Well, that is the basic parameter that we can identify the two types.
The word “Metastasis” enters your vocabulary at this point. Metastasis is the invasion and growth of a secondary tumor at a distant site from the primary tumor.
Neoplastic cells can be metastasized through lymphatic system, from blood vessels (hematogenous path), or through body cavities such as pleural, cerebral and peritoneal cavity.
You might have heard some different names for cancers. Well these names differ according to the type of cancer and the site where it is located.”
For example: Benign tumors arising from fibrous tissues are called “Fibroma”. In common use, “Adenoma” refers to the benign epithelial neoplasms producing gland patterns; “Papilloma” refers to the benign epithelial neoplasms growing on any surface that produce microscopic finger like pattern; “polyp” refers to the mass of cells projecting above a mucosal surface to a visible structure.
So likewise, a benign cancer arising from the epithelial cells of airways is called “Bronchial Adenoma”.
Malignant tumors arising in mesenchymal tissues is called “Sarcoma”, which can be used as fibro sarcoma, osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma.
And malignant tumors arising from epithelial tissues are called “Carcinoma”, which can be used as Renal cell carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, etc.
Keeping the classification aside, it is important for us to look in to the factors that can induce a cancer.
According to studies, the potential for a cancer depends on geographic and environmental conditions, Age, Heredity as well as Acquired disorders.
For example: The rate of stomach carcinoma in Japan is seven times higher than the rate in North America and Europe.
But the rate of breast carcinoma in North America is five times higher than in Japan. And the behavioral patterns such as smoking, having multiple sexual partners, fatty diets can lead to cancers as well.
When looking at the age, the potential for cancers increase with age. Highest cancer mortality is recorded within the ages of 55-75.
But also cancer mortality is high within childhood, due to leukemia, lymphomas, bone sarcomas, etc.
Can cancers be hereditary?
Of course yes. This can be familial. This can occur due to autosomal recessive syndromes of defective DNA repair.
Familial cancers have some unique features. They start at early age, can be multiple or bilateral, two or more relatives can have it. For example: Retinoblastoma in children is found that 40% of them are familial. Furthermore, Multiple endocrine neoplasia, breast carcinomas, brain carcinomas, colon carcinomas, etc. can be familial. Therefore, you should be more careful with your behavioral patterns if you identify any of these familial cancers within your relatives.
Anyway why is it so difficult to cure?
As malignant cancers can be metastasized, even though the primary tumor is excised, the neoplastic cells can be circulated within the body and invade into some other tissue where it finds good nutrition to grow.
The chemotherapy and other treatments used in cancers are long term. And also the medications used for oncology treatments can be more expensive than ordinary. Therefore, in most of the countries the prices of these drugs are unaffordable for the majority of citizens.
Currently there are many charities and organizations that conduct donation campaigns for cancer treatments.
· American Cancer Society
· Gilda’s Club/ Cancer Support Community
· American institute for Cancer research
Conclusion is, cancers cannot be predicted early. Your life is in your hands. Avoiding is always better than cure. Therefore, lets practice good health habits and behavioral patterns. Avoiding cancer is an investment for you, your family, as well as for the whole nation.