What is cancer? This is a question more and more people are finding themselves asking. We’ve all heard of cancer and most of us know that it’s on the increase, but once you or your loved one is faced with the diagnosis of cancer, how much do you really know?
The article that follows has been designed to offer you the very basics required to begin understanding the question what is cancer?
As you do further research you’ll come across detailed explanations and complex terminology. Don’t worry; you’ll soon get to grips with it all. You’ll find your understanding increases rapidly and you simply start absorbing information you would once have considered incomprehensible.
But for now, let us keep things as straightforward as possible in order that you can take that first step to understanding the disease that you or your loved one is up against.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a term given to an assortment of diseases that are generated by irregularities in the growth of cells within the body.
Cancer is not one solitary disease. This is a common mistake many people make. There are actually more than 200 types of cancer, each of which is unique and requires differing treatments. What is mutual to all of these types is the way they affect the body.
A body is made up of billions of individual cells. In a healthy body these cells grow uniformly and within designated areas. A cancer is developed when these cells either grow irregularly or begin to move to other areas they’re not supposed to be.
Think of it as though you were building a brick wall. When you have all the same bricks and cement, that wall comes together easily and will (hopefully) last for a long time. However, if halfway through building that wall you begin to use different bricks or stones and rocks, and place them in a haphazard fashion, that wall will take on not only a different appearance but will not function correctly either.
That’s what happens with cancerous cells. They alter the external appearance of the body – often in the form of a lump – and then cause various parts of the internal body to malfunction.
Types of Cancer
The above explanation is a very simplified answer to the question, what is cancer? As with anything to do with the human body, it’s a lot more complex than that, but this should give you a basic understanding.
In most cases, those that have been diagnosed with cancer are probably less interested in the question, what is cancer?, than the question, what is breast cancer?, or what is prostate cancer?, or what is any of the other specific types of cancer out there?
Researching the specific type of cancer you have been diagnosed with will help to answer lots of the questions you have, including what type of cancer treatment you can expect.
For the record, the most common forms of cancer are as follows: prostate, breast, lung, colon, urinary, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney, thyroid, and uterine. Of course, this list of 10 barely scratches the surface of the actual number of cancer types out there.
Treatment of Cancer
As we have alluded to earlier, each different type of cancer is treated differently. In fact, the treatment of cancer varies on a case-by-case basis. Certain cancers can be handled using specific methods while other cancers prove immune to those same methods.
As a rule of thumb, the treatment of cancer generally falls into one of these groups:
- Radiation therapy
- Hormonal treatment
- Experimental medicine.
In many cases, oncologists decide to use an assortment of these treatments to provide more effective care, a cocktail of cancer care if you will.
Cancer treatments are not something to be scared of either. We’re all familiar with the sight of a cancer sufferer losing their hair, but this is not a guaranteed side effect of all treatment. Yes, it is common with those that undergo chemotherapy, but it is by no means a given.
Nor does all cancer treatment hurt. Again, yes some of it does, but certain forms of cancer treatment are much less invasive and much easier on the body – and mind – as a whole.
Now, we’ve answered the question, what is cancer?, and we’ve looked (very briefly) at some of the types and treatments, so it’s now down to you to take on a little more research.