Cancer has been a serious dilemma for humanity since it came into existence. Let’s have a glance at what made it so threatening all over the world.
Whenever we hear that a person is diagnosed with cancer disease we feel an ache in our chest. Why? Is it something huge to accept? The answer is yes. Cancer is a very big deal and it becomes more unacceptable when the person is our loved one. We can say it is a major issue across the world. It is easy to read an article or blog written on cancer or cancer patients about how they faced it and fought for their life but believe me, it is much much harder for a person who has suffered.
Cancer is not new, it has been in existence for several years. Let’s travel back in time, very back.
Based on the research in 2003, evidence of cancer cells was found in dinosaur fossils(70 to 80 million years ago), around 4.2 to 3.9 million years ago, Hominid malignant tumor, one of the oldest tumors was found in Homo Erectus or Australopithecus by Louis Leaky in 1932. Evidence of Cancerous cells found in mummies in 3000 BCE(Egypt), remains of the male skull from the bronze age found with cancer, in 500 BCE there was mention of Thwart tumor in Indian epic tale, Ramayana which was treated by arsenic paste. And many other researchers found evidence of cancer in old fossils from ancient times.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in 2018 there were around 18.1 million new cases of cancer and around 9.5 million deaths all over the world, all related to cancer.
According to the estimation, by 2040, the number of new cases of cancer is expected to increase to around 29.5 million and around 16.4 million cancer-related deaths.
Let’s have a detailed knowledge of why this disease is so dangerous and fatal. What does it e a person suffers so vigorously?
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease or we can say a group of diseases in which abnormal cells of our body grow and spread in other parts of our body. Cancer can develop in any part of our body and is made up of trillions of cells. Naturally what happens is, the cells of our body grow and multiply through the process called cell division. It is a normal function that is required according to the needs of the body. When the old cells get damaged or die the new cells replace them and serve their function but unfortunately sometimes this process breaks down where the old(damaged or abnormal) cells, which were supposed to die, grow and multiply instead. In this way, these growing and multiplying abnormal cells form tumors (lumps of tissue). Studying cancer is called Oncology.
Two types of tumors are there: cancerous and noncancerous Metastasis is a process in which these cancerous cells develop in one part of the body and spread in the other parts and cause new tumors in these cancerous cells are also known as malignant tumors.
On the other hand, be tumors do not cause any severe problems. They do not travel and spread to other parts of the body. Once removed from the body, they do not grow back which does not happen with cancerous tumors. Although benign tumors can be very large sometimes. And some can cause serious problems such as the one in the brain.
Cancer Cells and Normal Cells
- The normal cells grow in a natural proper order while cancerous cells grow and multiply unorderly.
- The new cells developed from the old cells look the same as the parent cell when it is a normal cell while in cancerous cells all the cells look different in shape and size.
- The nucleus in the cancerous cell is larger and darker than that of normal cells.
- There are abnormal numbers of chromosomes in the nucleus of cancerous cells arranged in a disorganized fashion than that of normal cells.
- Cancerous cells look like a cluster of cells without boundaries.
Different types of cancer
Carcinoma: These are the most common type of cancer, and are formed by epithelial cells(cells that cover the outside and inside surface of the body). There are different types of epithelial cells and carcinoma formed in different epithelial cells has different specific names such as Adenocarcinoma(forms in epithelial cells that produce fluids or mucus), Basal Cell Carcinoma(base layer of the dermis), Squamous Cell Carcinoma(outer surface of the skin), Transitional Cell Carcinoma.
Leukemia: There are blood-forming tissues in the bone marrow, cancer that that develops in these tissues is leukemia. These do not form solid tumors. Huge numbers of abnormal white cells(leukemia cells) build up in the blood and bone marrow decreasing the number of normal white blood cells restricting the body to get oxygen to its tissues, controlling bleeor fighting infections. There are usually four types of leukemia, they are acute or chronic(based on severity) and lymphoblastic and myeloid(type of blood cell where cancer developed).
Lymphoma: Cancer develops in lymphocytes(B cells and T cells). These are the disease-fighting-fighting cells of the immune system. In lymphoma, abnormal cells build up in lymph vessels and lymph nodes, and other parts as well.
Sarcoma: This is cancer that is formed in bone, soft tissues, muscles, fat, lymph vessels, blood vessels and tendons, and ligaments.
Melanoma: It is t develops in cells that become melanocytes. These are specialized cecells lanin(the pigment that gives skin its color).
Among all these cancers one of the most common cancers diagnosed in women is Breast Cancer. It is er that develops from breast tissue. It can develop from different parts of the breast.
My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. There are a lot of ways to treat breast cancer. In her case, it was surgery, in which the doctors cut out the cancer tissue. There are various other treatments such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, and radiation therapy depending upon the type of cancer and how far it has spread. Cancer is known to be the most dangerous disease on which many types of research have made in the past and still there is a lot to unbox. The disease which was seemingly impossible to cure two decades ago, due to technological advancement and ever-increasing understanding of cancer, now there are several ways of treating this stubborn disease.
With all the knowledge we have about our body there are still a lot of things that need to be explored. Our body keeps changing with changes in the environment and keeps adopting new characteristics which sometimes become complex to deal with. It’s a blessing to have such great scientists who keep unboxing these secrets of our bodies and continue working to be prepared to deal with any kind of unusualities.