From both sides of my family, cancer is a constant reoccurring problem and it is something that not only affects my family and me, but as well as many, many other people. Almost knows at least one person who has had cancer. Naturally we have a feeling of fear that we might one day get it as well, especially in children. However, cancer in children is very rare, but as adults, the odds of receiving cancer increases. Breast cancer is most common in women whereas prostate cancer is most popular among men. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in this country, and more people are getting affected with them each and every year.
Cancer may be as old as the start of humans. During the fifteenth century, cancer was referred to as a scirrus, or scar. In 1775, Sir Percivall Pott connected common occurrences of scrotal cancer among chimney sweeps with their frequent exposure to flue dust. Until the eighteenth century, Europeans treated cancer by cauterization and bloodletting. Although cancer research has been continuous for centuries, the most significant conclusions have been drawn in the twentieth century. In 1950, Frank L. Horsfall, Jr. was concerned in discovering the causes of cancer.
He thought that changes in the cell came from a change in DNA. Horsfall’s finding that cancer is attributed to changes in the nucleic acid of cells provided a unifying concept for studying cancer. Approximately fifty years prior to Horsfall’s observations, Peyton Rous was attracted in the physiology of cancer within animals, and found the first virus-induced cancer. This connective tissue cancer in chickens causes an increase of the liver and is deadly. Rous’s original experiment included grafting sarcoma tumor cells from diseased hens into healthy hens.
He noted that the healthy hens soon contracted the disease. Even filtered fluid extracts from diseased hens were contagious. Rous hypothesized that a virus may be the cause of the cancer. Cancer is a group of diseases where cells grow abnormally and uncontrollable. In all living things, normal cells grow, reproduce, and die. Chemicals and reactions within the cell control these processes, which are directed by the cell’s DNA in the nucleus. In a cell that has been affected by cancer, the genetic material in the cell has been changed, and the genes which direct the cells’ actions are changed or mutated.
These cancerous cells in someone’s body can grow and multiply and form a large mass of tissue called a tumor. These tumors may invade and kill non-cancerous cells. At times, cancerous cells can leave and break off from a tumor and enter the bloodstream, allowing the cell to travel to different destinations in the body and infecting other organs and tissues. This process is known as metastasis, and allows cancer to spread from an isolated tumor, to the entire body. Most of the time, when people mention or use the word “cancer”, it is used to describe a malignant tumor.
Malignant tumors are tumors that spread to different parts of your body and can end up harming you and are very aggressive. But, there are cases of tumors that are actually the complete opposite. Depending on the type of tumor, it could be limited to one part of the body and can be removed by surgery. These tumors are called benign tumors because they stay in one part of your body and cause no, or if so, very little harm. Normal cells change into a cancerous cell when the genetic material, which is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), or the cell is changed or mutated.
There are various things that can cause these mutations and changes within a cell’s genetic material, such as viruses, medications, and synthetic carcinogens. Carcinogens are substances that cause a normal cell to change into a cancerous cell. When these substances disrupt a cell’s genetic material, it often brings about cancer. A tumor is the outcome of various gene mutations within a single cell. Prior to a tumor forming in the body, a cell can become damaged by these different factors, making it later transform into a cancer cell. Cancer is also a disease of age because many times, cancer forms in bodies which age over 50.
Today, there are over 200 known types of cancers. Cancers are usually named after the organ or tissue in which it first starts off or begins in. The four main types of cancers are carcinomas, sarcomas, lymphomas, and leukemias. Carcinomas are the most common types of cancer and starts from cells that are in external and internal body parts such as the lungs, breasts, and colon area. Sarcomas are cancers that arise from cells located in the supporting tissues of the body, such as bones, cartilage, fat, and connective tissues, which is the material that connects body structures.
Lymphomas are cancers that are formed in the lymph nodes and the immune system. Leukemias are cancers of young blood cells that produce in the bone marrow and gather in great numbers in the blood stream. A risk factor could be anything that increases the chance of getting a disease. But having a risk factor doesn’t insist that that certain person will definitely get a certain disease or sickness. Those who end up getting cancer get it as a result of an intricate set of communications between many factors. This is why cancer is often known as a multifactorial disease, in which numerous causes of cancer have been acknowledged.
Besides things such as heredity, diet, and hormones, there are also other external factors that promote cancer such as carcinogens, pollution, radiation, viruses, and bacteria. Chemical carcinogens often cause or may help cause cancer and have a long history of having caused cancer. Many of these chemicals are used in farming and industries as they prolong exposure to humans and animals. Insecticides and asbestos are often used in farms, while fumes such as nickel and chromium are often found in factories. Another thing that causes cancer is tobacco, as it contains chemicals that are lethal carcinogens.
It is responsible for thirty percent of all cancer deaths every year in the United States. Someone may also get cancer by their diet if it includes large amounts of animal fat and red meat, and not enough quantities of fruits and vegetables. Pollution is another leading role of cause of cancer because of its toxics, especially in children. In the beginning of this current century, there was more than 175 million pounds of cancer-causing chemicals in the air and water system, allowing the toxins to be inhaled by basically everyone. Another thing that has been proven to cause cancer is radiation.
Radiation causes genetic damage leading towards cancer. High amounts of contact with ionizing-radiation exposure such as X-rays and atomic blasts are known for their cause of cancer, even though it may take ten to fifteen years to develop. Lastly, cancer may be caused by viruses that change the DNA in cells to become cancerous. To know that one may have cancer, there are many symptoms such as weight loss, fever, fatigue, and various kinds of lumps that could be caused by other diseases. However, there are some instances where a certain type of cancer may not show symptoms until they have spread throughout your body.
Very common symptoms include a change in bowel or bladder habits, sore skin that doesn’t heal, unusual bleeding or discharge from the nose, mouth, skin, nipple, or vagina, a thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere, indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, obvious changes in a wart or mole, or a nagging cough. Diagnosing cancer includes removing some kind of tissue for evaluation to go through a procedure called biopsy. When a diagnosis is made, a plan is made for a treatment. There are several of ways for staging how to treat the cancer, but it depends on the type.
Generally, the smaller the tumor is, the easier it will be to cure it. Treatments for cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, anti-angiogenesis treatment, and prescribed medications. They are either prescribed to be used together or alone. Because different cancers grow at different rates and differ on how they react to specific treatments, the treatment used must be specific to the cancer a person has. Surgery is used to remove tumors and is the first form of treatment for cancer, as it offers the greatest chance to cure many kinds of cancers.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancerous cells that are too small for surgery to remove. Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs given through a vein or by mouth as pills. These drugs reach places in the body that radiation and surgery can’t reach by traveling in the blood streams. It’s often used for cancer that has already spread to different parts of the body. Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to go against cancer by stimulating the immune system or by prescribing human-made immune system proteins.
Anti-angiogenesis therapy prevents the creation of new blood cells. As the human body grows, it needs new blood vessels to distribute blood to its cells or to heal wounded tissues or cuts. However, those with cancer would end up making a tumor out of the new blood vessels.
Many cancers could be prevented by a change in lifestyle such as not smoking and drinking. Limiting foods such as red meats and animal foods and eating a lot of healthy foods, and also exercising regularly may reduce the risk of cancer as well. It is estimated that avoidance of tobacco, overexposure to the sun, high-fat diets, excessive alcohol, unsafe sex, and other known carcinogens could prevent more than eighty percent of all cancer cases.
Having annual tests that detect certain cancers also provide a better chance of survival, for you can treat it right away. Today, cancer diagnosis is usually shocking and frightening. A person’s life could suddenly be disturbed by visits the doctors, treatment, and changing personal contact. Children would have to be absent from school sometimes or give up sports and other extracurricular activities.
Sometimes kids may think that they did something wrong to be diagnosed with cancer, or something along those lines. Each and every person has their own way of dealing and coping with the fact of having cancer. There are many support groups that people go to talk about their feelings with people who go through the same exact thing.
Even with cancer, a person can live for many years after. With more than seventy percent of people with cancer being successfully treated, the amount of people out there diagnosed with cancer will soon decrease. This shows how with today’s technology, we are on a road to success to make cancer end.