WHAT IS CANCER
Our body has different types of cells which grow and multiply several times in a day to maintain normal function.
Occasionally this cell division is affected and creates a wrong cell or an abnormal cell, these divide further in an uncontrolled way affecting the other parts of the body.
These cells which divide abnormally are called cancers.
These cells can locally infiltrate the adjacent organs or invade the blood and lymphatic system and cause spread or metastasis.
Cancer can occur in almost all parts of the body and they are categorized mainly from the cell in which they begin.
Cancer arising from epithelium or covering of an organ - CARCINOMA
Cancer arising from connective or supportive cells (E.g.: bone, muscle,) - SARCOMA
Cancer arising from cells which produce blood(bone marrow) - LEUKAEMIA
Cancer arising from cells of immune system - LYMPHOMA and MYELOMA
Cancer arising from nervous system - ASTROCYTOMA, GLIOMA
HOW DOES CANCER START
By damage to DNA - the genetic material in the cell
By interfering with cell division and other controlling mechanisms of the cell.
Damage to DNA can be caused by certain hydrocarbons, chemicals which are present in tobacco for example, radiation or due to certain chemical action in our body when the built in protection mechanism fails in our body.
Certain substances for example stimulate cell division causing damage to DNA and causing mutation.
Any factor which leads to the above can produce cancer.
WHAT DO WE UNDERSTAND BY STAGES OF CANCER
Staging is done when the patient is first seen with the particular cancer.
Staging is important because it decides the treatment to be given and also gives an indication of the outcome.
CAN WE PREVENT CANCER
Yes, some common cancers are preventable.
Leading a healthy life certainly takes you a long way.
Avoid smoking, tobacco chewing which can reduce the risk of oral cavity and lung cancers.
Limit taking alcohol, exercise regularly and maintaining healthy body weight as overweight and obesity are risk factors for breast and endometrial cancers.
Cervical smear and mammogram after the age of 35 years or earlier if needed as per your doctor's advice.
WHAT IS GENETIC CANCER RISK
It is the likelihood of developing cancer depending upon your family history.
There are certain genes in our body which protect us from developing cancer, when these genes are faulty that individual is at higher than average risk.
Only a small percentage (up to 5 per cent) of certain types of cancer is due to people being born with a faulty gene.
Gene with the fault is inherited and sometimes it occurs for unknown reasons.
Not all those who have a mutated cancer protection gene will develop cancer, but they are at a higher risk.
At the cancer institute a comprehensive molecular oncology department with Highly qualified staffs are available for genetic counseling where you can clarify your risk and discuss options for genetic testing, its limitations, advantages and disadvantages.