Any of the several illnesses defined by the growth of aberrant cells that divide out of control and have the capacity to invade and destroy healthy bodily tissue are referred to as cancers. The propensity of cancer to spread throughout your body is common.

The second greatest cause of mortality worldwide is cancer. On the other hand, because of advancements in cancer detection, therapy, and prevention, survival rates are rising for many cancer types.

Cancer: Causes

Changes (mutations) to the DNA within cells are what lead to cancer. A cell's DNA is organized into several distinct genes, each of which carries a set of instructions directing the cell's performance of certain tasks as well as its growth and division. Incorrect instructions can make a cell cease functioning normally and even give it the chance to develop cancer.

A healthy cell may be instructed by a gene mutation to −

  • Permit quick development. A gene mutation may instruct a cell to divide and develop more quickly. This results in the creation of several additional cells with the same mutation.

  • Unable to halt unchecked cell proliferation. Normal cells are aware of when to cease growing so that there are the proper proportions of each type of cell present. Tumor suppressor genes that instruct cells to stop growing are lost in cancer cells. A mutation in a tumor suppressor gene permits cancer cells to continue multiplying and accumulating.

Cancer: Symptoms

The patient with cancer mainly presents with the following symptoms that include −

  • Fatigue

  • Under the skin, a lump or thickening might be felt.

  • Alterations in weight, such as unplanned loss or increase

  • Skin alterations such as skin that is becoming yellow, darkening, or red, sores that won't heal, or modifications to existing moles

  • Alterations in bowel or bladder patterns

  • Persistent cough or breathing issues

  • Having trouble swallowing

  • Hoarseness

  • Persistent dyspepsia or discomfort following meals persistent, asymptomatic joint or muscular pain

  • Persistent, irrational fevers or sweats at night

  • Bruising or bleeding that is not normal

Cancer: Risk Factors

Several factors play an important role in the development of cancer which includes the following −

Your Age

The development of cancer can take decades. The average age of those who receive a cancer diagnosis is 65 or higher. Cancer is not just an adult disease, even though older persons are more likely to get it. Cancer can be detected at any age.

Your Routines

It is well-recognized that several lifestyle decisions raise your chance of developing cancer. Tobacco use, excessive alcohol use (up to two drinks per day for males and up to one drink per day for women), frequent blistering sunburns, excessive sun exposure, being fat, and unsafe sex are all risk factors for cancer.

Although some habits are easier to modify than others, you may adjust certain behaviors to reduce your chance of developing cancer.

Your Family's Genealogy

A very tiny percentage of malignancies are brought on by an inherited disorder. If cancer runs in your family, mutations could be handed down from one generation to the next. If you want to find out if you have inherited mutations that might make you more likely to get particular cancer, you could be a good candidate for genetic testing. Remember that not everyone who carries an inherited genetic mutation will get cancer.

Your State of Health

Your chance of getting some types of cancer might significantly rise if you have certain chronic health problems, such as ulcerative colitis. Discuss your risk with your doctor.

Your Surroundings

Hazardous substances in the environment may raise your chance of developing cancer. If you go places where people are smoking or if you live with someone who smokes, even if you don't smoke, you might inhale second-hand smoke. Moreover, exposure to chemicals like benzene and asbestos at work or home is linked to a higher chance of developing cancer.

Cancer: Diagnosis

The diagnosis of the cancer is mainly done based on history and some of the tests may be required for confirmation and to rule out underlying causes

  • Exam of the body. Your doctor could check several parts of your body for lumps that could be cancerous. Your doctor may check for anomalies during a physical examination, such as skin color changes or organ enlargements that might be signs of cancer.

  • Tests in the lab. Your doctor may employ laboratory testing, such as blood and urine tests, to find anomalies that might be brought on by cancer. For instance, a routine blood test called a complete blood count may detect an unusually high or particular kind of white blood cell in leukemia patients.

  • Image-based exams. Using imaging tests, your doctor can do a less invasive examination of your bones and internal organs. A computed tomography (CT) scan, bone scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scan, ultrasound, and X-ray are a few of the imaging procedures that may be used to diagnose cancer.

  • Biopsy. Your doctor takes a sample of cells during a biopsy to examine in a lab. There are several approaches to sample collection. The sort of cancer you have and where it is located will determine which form of biopsy is best for you. Most of the time, a biopsy is required to make a certain cancer diagnosis.

Cancer: Treatment

The treatment is based on the severity of the symptoms. Your doctor may advise conservative or surgical treatment.

  • Surgery. Surgery's main objective is to completely remove the malignancy, if feasible.

  • Chemotherapy. Drugs are used in chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.

  • Radiation treatment. High-powered energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, are used in radiation treatment to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy devices can either be implanted inside or outside of your body (external beam radiation) (brachytherapy).

  • Transplant of bone marrow. A stem cell transplant is another name for a bone marrow transplant. Your doctor can treat your cancer with stronger doses of chemotherapy thanks to a bone marrow transplant. Moreover, defective bone marrow may be replaced with it.

Cancer: Prevention

Some of the measures that can help to prevent cancer include −

  • Give up smoking. Quit smoking if you do. Stop smoking if you don't already. Smoking is associated with more cancers than simply lung cancer. You can lower your future chance of developing cancer by giving up now.

  • Limit your time in the sun. The sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation might raise your chance of developing skin cancer. Reduce your exposure to the sun by seeking out shade, using sunscreen, or donning protective gear.


A strategy for the detection and treatment of cancer is an essential part of any comprehensive cancer control strategy. Its primary objective is to either completely cure cancer patients or greatly extend their lives while guaranteeing a high quality of life. A diagnostic and treatment plan should never be created in a vacuum if it is to be effective.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha


Updated on: 17-Apr-2023


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