What is cancer?

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what is cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in human beings. One in two people is likely to suffer from it in their lifetime. It is highly essential to understand what is cancer and what should we do to stay safe.

It is caused by the formation of mutated genes that control cell growth and cell division. These abnormal genes are called oncogenes. These oncogenes form mutated or abnormal cells that can grow and replicate to form cancerous tissue in any part of the body. 

Difference between a cancer cell and a normal cell

what is cancer

The affected cells do not conform to usual cell growth limits. So they tend to form tissues, abnormal in size as compared to other normal tissues.

Cancer cells are less adhesive than normal cells and can wander into the bloodstream and introduce cancer into other parts of the body.

Some affected cells also cause blood vessels to grow into the cancerous tissue. This helps the disease in sustaining its growth by getting nutrients from the blood supply.

The immune system of the body naturally has the ability to suppress affected cells. So, although a large number of cancers are just unlucky occurrences, still, precautionary measures are advised to reduce its probability. 

 The following are some critical cancer-causing factors everyone should be aware of.

  1. Excessive exposure to X-rays, radioactive substances, and ultraviolet light can predispose people to this disease. 
  2. Carcinogens are chemicals that can induce it in the body. Cigarette smoke happens to have the most amounts of carcinogens, which cause about one-quarter of all cancer-related deaths.
  3. Some types of food e.g., processed meat, if continually taken, can cause abrasions on the linings of the intestinal tract leading to cancer. These foods are called “physical irritants” and can be a cause of this disease.
  4. Some people are more prone to it because of their hereditary tendency to the disease. They tend to have more chances of having oncogenes. Cancer screenings should be performed as soon as possible to establish a predisposition to the disease, which can help in early diagnosis in such cases.
  5. Some viruses also have the ability to cause certain types of cancer e.g., leukemia. Washing your hands thoroughly before eating and after going to the bathroom can reduce the risks of infection. Always make sure to stay clear of infected equipment such as used syringes. 

Cancerous tissue competes with healthy tissue for nutrients. With the cancerous cells continuously multiplying, cancerous tissue gets the ability to keep on growing. The cancer mass snatches all the nutrients available in the body for healthy tissues and uses it for its growth. Non-availability of nutrients to the healthy tissues finally leads to death.

what is cancer

Early diagnosis is the key to getting rid of the disease. Everyone should know about the common cancers which are most likely to happen, and routine self-check-up should be carried out. Breast cancer and prostate cancer are two of the most commonly occurring diseases in human beings. Any lump formation or any other abnormality should be taken very seriously, and doctors should be consulted at the earliest.