Understanding Cancer- Awareness about cancer is already the half battle won

Posted by KareOptionsTeam on February 01, 2021

Awareness about cancer is already the half battle won

Cancer is not as scary and deadly as it was decades before because of advancement in the medical health science, the disease is curable if diagnosed at an early stage. Moreover, the recovery rates have gone up in the recent years with the betterment of medical care and therapeutic procedures. The need of the hour is not to ignore any symptoms and seek medical advice at the earliest.

What is Cancer?

According to WHO, Cancer is a group of diseases that can start in any organ system, cells, or tissues of the body when the diseased cells grow beyond control and extend outside their normal boundaries to reach adjacent cells and organs of the body. The process of uncontrollable growth of cells and invading other cells or tissues of the body is called metastasizing and is the reason behind the increased mortality rates due to cancer. Cancer is also known as neoplasm and malignant tumor.

As per National Cancer Institute, some genes of human body get activated known as proto-oncogenes, which lead to formation of oncogenes. This occurs due to certain chemical agents or radiation exposure to the human body. Thus during cancer the orderly process of cell division breaks down.
Facts and Figures about Cancer

  1. As per Globacan 2020* Breast cancer represents 1 in 4 cancers diagnosed among women globally. Colorectal, lung, cervical, and thyroid cancers are also common among women.
  2. Lung cancer and prostate cancer are the most common among men, together accounting for nearly one-third of all male cancers.
  3. There continue to be significant disparities between higher and lower-income countries, with GLOBOCAN 2020 predicting that countries classified with "Low or Medium Human Development Index (HDI) "will have the greatest relative increases in cancer incidence by 2040.
  4. Around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
  5. Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths(2)
  6. Cancer causing infections, such as hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV), are responsible for up to 25% of cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries. (3)
  7. Only 1 in 5 low- and middle-income countries have the necessary data to drive cancer policy (4)

Common symptoms

If you are feeling any of the symptoms described below then you must proceed for the full body scan althoughsimilar symptoms can be felt in many conditions, but it is hereby advised that one should not ignore these symptoms and consult a doctor.

  • Extreme tiredness, lump or raised area under the skin
  • Unintentional weight loss or gain
  • Delayed healing of sores or alterations in existing moles
  • Alterations in bowel or bladder habits
  • Chronic cough or difficulty in breathing, problem in swallowing, changes in voice
  • Prolonged indigestion or heaviness after food
  • Prolonged without reason painful joints or sore muscles
  • Other symptoms include prolonged without any reason fever or night sweats and any reason bleeding or bruising.

Sometimes the patient observes no changes until the disease has progressed to later stages therefore, a complete body check-up once a year helps in early screening of the disease.

Types of cancer

Carcinomas are a variety of cancer that initiates in cells that form the skin or the cells on the outer surface of the internal organs like liver or kidneys. Similar to other varieties of cancer these carcinomas are faulty cells that undergoes uncontrollable division and spreads to different parts of the body.

Lymphoma is a variety of cancer that initiates in the fighter cells of the human immune system, which are known as lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are present in lymph nodes such as lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow and other body party. If a patient has a lymphoma then the morphology of these lymphocytes alters and grow uncontrollably.

Sarcoma is a cancerous tumor that initiates from faulty cells of mesenchymal (connective tissue) cells or other different types of tissues. Sarcomas are regarded as the primary connective tissue cancer that primarily originates in the connective tissue whereas the connective tissue tumors which develop in any other part and later on spreads to connective tissue are known as secondary sarcoma.

Leukemia is a variety of cancer that initiates in the blood-formulating tissue that is normally the bone marrow. The outcome is the over-manufacturing of faulty WBC the cells which takes active part in fighting against the infections in the body.

Melnoma is a type of skin cancer, which develops in the pigment producing cells known as melanocytes, and they manufacture melanin that provides color to the skin. It can develop in eyes, and occasionally inside the body parts like nose or throat. The etiology of melanomas is still not discovered fully but the exposure to UV rays from sun enhances the threat of melanoma and therefore the melanoma can be prevented by limiting the exposure of harmful radiations.

Preventive measures

The disease has been an outcome of faulty lifestyle and too much exposure to harmful radiations. However, the etiology of the disease is still not clear but there are certain aggravating factors which culminates in the disease.

Cancer can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle, no Tobacco intake, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting the sun exposure and avoid risky behavior like unprotected sex, and regular health checkups to limit the disease at an early stage.

The most common risk factors of cancer are age, alcohol, cancer-causing items, prolonged inflammation, diet, hormonal disturbance, immunity suppressing drugs, infectious substances, overweight and passive smoking also increases the risk of developing cancer.

Diagnostic methods

  • Cancer can be diagnosed in a number of ways. Through physical examination, a doctor can inspect any abnormal growth under the skin like a lump.
  • Other common ways are routine urine and blood examinations that can detect any abnormality in the function of any organ.
  • Imaging tests also help the doctors to inspect internal organs and bones in a non-invasive manner like through CT scan, MRI, PET, USG and X ray.
  • Biopsy is another technique in which sample of cells are collected from the site of a lump or suspected area and is the most accurate way to detect cancer.

More than these techniques if you notice any changes in the regular body functions then you should seek medical advice and can catch hold of the disease in the very early stages and can get fully recovered.

Management of cancer The treatment of cancer depends upon type of cancer and its extent of spread in the body. The most common therapeutic measures for cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, photodynamic therapy, and stem cell transplant therapy. Intensity modulation treatment therapy and Image guided radiation therapy which uses linear accelerators and helps in more guided radiation therapy, as it identifies the shape and size of tumor in the body. It is particularly useful for the tumors which moves and changes shape easily. Immunotherapy

“Cancer may have started the fight but medical science will finish it.”

The issue that makes cancer difficult to cure is the ability of cancer cells to dodge the body’s immunity system. The immune system at times fails to recognize those cells as threats or the system is inefficient to fight it. However, owing to recent advances in medical science, now the immunotherapy drugs can mark these cells in order to facilitate easier detection. The drugs help to strengthen the defense mechanism of the body to ensure fierce attack.

A gene therapy called CART-cell therapy has been approved by FDA, which uses the body’s immune cells (also known as T-cells) to treat the deadly disease. The cells are extracted from the blood and changed by doctors through adding new genes. A recently discovered drug known as Tisagenlecleucel (Kymriah) has been approved to treat lymphoblastic leukemia of children and young adults until 25 years of age.

Customized medicine The conventional belief of treating cancer was that patients with a certain type and stage of cancer would get the same treatment. However, a straightjacket treatment might not be effective in treating all the patients. The patient’s genes can help the doctors give a fair idea about the treatment required. It is not recommended to wipe off all the cells (including healthier ones) rather the focus should only be on deadly cells.

High-tech advancements The technological advances have made it easier for doctors to learn the specifics of the disease in greater detail. The imaging techniques are useful in locating the exact position and spread of the deadly cells. For instance- MP-MRI techniques can expose the groups of blood vessels in a new prostate tumor. The micro view helps the doctors in providing the best treatment.

FLI (Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging) is extremely beneficial to detect breast cancer. An imaging can help doctors to check for the presence of proteins which are leading to the growth of cancer cells. Summary

The over-arching objective of this blog is to disseminate awareness and bring about a psychological change amongst masses towards cancer. Earlier the name itself was enough to drive the chill waves down the spine but not anymore as the doctors and scientists have researched new drugs and techniques to manage the disease. Let’s join hands and spread the word amongst our dearest friends and family members.

How KareOptions can help! Finding the right doctor for getting a second opinion and dealing with other day to day chores would be overwhelming for most patients. Some patients may find it difficult telling their current doctor that they would like a second opinion. Sometimes, your doctor may help you find the right specialist, but in most cases, you have to do a lot of work finding the right doctor without delaying your required treatment. Insurance companies may or may not cover the cost of a second opinion, and some may reimburse your costs when you consult a specialist who belongs to their approved lists of providers.

KareOptions can simplify the process of getting a second opinion for your cancer treatment by undertaking all the groundwork to get access to specialists that suit your healthcare needs. Our Medical Second Opinion Service (MSOS) and Second Opinion Board Review (SOBR) helps you obtain a sound review of your diagnosis and treatment options by a team of oncology experts.

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*Disclaimer *

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Refernces and Credits

(1)*GLOBOCAN 2020 - an online database providing global cancer statistics and estimates of incidence and mortality in 185 countries for 36 types of cancer, and for all cancer sites combined. The data is part of IARC’s Global Cancer Observatory, and is available online at (2) GBD 2015 Risk Factors Collaborators. Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet. 2016 Oct; 388 (10053):1659-1724.

(3) Plummer M, de Martel C, Vignat J, Ferlay J, Bray F, Franceschi S. Global burden of cancers attributable to infections in 2012: a synthetic analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2016 Sep;4(9):e609-16. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(16)30143-7. (4) Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Lyon: France. (5) (2019). Retrieved from Cancer.org website: https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics.html (6) 9 things you may not know about cancer. (2019). Retrieved from Roche.com website: https://www.roche.com/research_and_development/what_we_are_working_on/oncology/9_things_cancer.htm (7) Moujaess E, Kourie HR, Ghosn M. Cancer patients and research during COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review of current evidence. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2020;150:102972. doi:10.1016/j.critrevonc.2020.102972