Cancer: Overview, Cause, Types, Treatment and Prevention

Cancer Overview, Cause, Types, Treatment and Prevention

Before knowing what is Cancer? When did you preferably hear about cancer? We have seen movies, heard stories and read about this disease nearly everywhere. Even our favourite actors and actresses have performed the role of a cancer victim in a movie. 

We may have even learned about a colleague, a friend, or a close relative being diagnosed with the cancer disease, and always, our initial reaction is that of shock and pity. But when did it really happen to you how serious this disease is, and those who have them suffer a great deal, both physically and emotionally. 

We have been made conscious of this fatal cancer disease and that it can pick anyone, no matter what race, colour, age or stature you have in society. Let’s know more about this worrying disease and how it affects us physically.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a class of diseases or disorders described by an uncontrolled division of cells and the ability of these cells to invade other tissues, either by growth to adjacent tissue through invasion or by implantation into faraway sites by metastasis (spread of this disease from its prior sites to other places).  Metastasis is defined as the stage in which disease cells are transported through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.  

How cancer begins

Cells are the essential units that make up the human body. Cells grow and divide to make new cells as the body needs them according to their need. Normally, cells die when they get too old or damaged. Then, new cells replace them.

Cancer begins when genetic differences interfere with this orderly process. Cells start to grow without any control. These cells may form a tissue mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign in this phase. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body fastly. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread at that much speed.


There are many causes of cancer, and some are preventable by using environmental healthy life.

For example, over 480,000 die in the U.S. each year from smoking cigarettes, according to data presented in 2014. There 22.54 lakh people died of this disease in India between 2018 and 2020 as the government informed Lok Sabha.  

In complement to smoking, risk factors may include:

  • Serious alcohol consumption
  • Extra body weight
  • physical inactivity
  • poor nutrition

There are many other causes of disease that are not preventable. Currently, the most consequential unpreventable risk factor is age. As the data by the American Cancer Society, doctors in the U.S. treated 87 per cent of cases in people aged 50 years or older.

Is cancer genetic?

Genetic factors can contribute to the development of cancer in many aspects.

An individual’s genetic code tells their cells when to divide and expire. Changes in the genes can lead to faulty instructions, and cancer can develop.

Genes also influence the cells’ production of proteins, and proteins carry many of the instructions for cellular growth and division in the human body.

Some genes change proteins that would normally repair damaged cells. This can guide cancer. If a parent cell has these genes, it may pass on the altered instructions to its offspring.

Some genetic changes happen after birth, and aspects such as smoking and sun exposure can increase the risk.

Other changes that can result in cancer take place in the chemical signals that define how the body deploys, or “expresses” specific genes.

Types of cancer

The risk of this disease increases with age, although it may affect individuals of all ages.  There are many types of cancer, but the harshness of symptoms may vary and depend on the size and character of the malignancy and whether or not there is metastasis.

Doctors divide cancer into types based on where it starts. Four main types are:


A carcinoma starts in the skin or the tissue that covers the surface of internal organs and glands. Carcinomas normally form solid tumors. They are the most typical type of disease. Examples of carcinomas can be responsible for prostate, breast, lung, and colorectal cancer.


Sarcoma starts in the tissues that support and connect the full body. A sarcoma can evolve in fat, muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels, lymph vessels, cartilage, or bone


Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood in the body. Leukaemia starts when healthy blood cells change and grow uncontrollably. The 4 major types of leukemia are acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia.


Lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in the lymphatic system of the body. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and glands that help fight any type of infection that enters into body. These are divided into 2 major types of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Diagnosing Cancer

Diagnosing the cancer disease usually requires the histologic examination of tissue by a pathologist.  The tissue is received by biopsy or surgery.  Depending on the specific type, location and stage of cancer, most can normally be treated.

Damage to DNA causes the unregulated growth that indicates cancer, resulting in mutations to genes that encode for proteins controlling cell division.  Many mutations happen to entail the transformation of a normal cell into a malignant cell.  These mutations can be induced by chemicals or physical agents called carcinogens, by close exposure to radioactive materials, or by certain viruses that can insert their DNA into the human genome.  Germline mutations are departed down to generations.

Once a person is diagnosed with the cancer disease, treatments would usually be a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.  With modern research and developments, treatments of cancer disease are becoming more specific for the type of cancer pathology.  There are now a lot of medications that target specific cancers.  If this disease is untreated, it may ultimately cause illness and death, though it is not always the case.


Many forms of this disease are linked with a person’s vulnerability to environmental factors such as tobacco smoke, radiation, alcohol and certain viruses.  Although some of these can be avoided, there is no known method or way to avoid the cancer disease.  Public health and vaccination programs also play an essential role on a global scale.

So if you’re interested in the prevention of cancer, take ease in the fact that simple lifestyle changes can make a difference. Consider these disease-prevention tips.

Don’t use tobacco

Using any type of tobacco puts you on a collision route with cancer. Smoking has been linked to different types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to this disease of the oral cavity and pancreas. Actually, if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might raise your risk of lung cancer.

Avoiding tobacco — or choosing to stop using it — is a necessary part of cancer prevention. If you need help stopping tobacco, ask your physician about stop-smoking products and other strategies for stopping.

Eat a healthy diet

Although making healthy choices at the grocery store and at mealtime can’t guarantee cancer prevention, it might ease your risk. Consider these approaches:

Eat surplus of fruits and vegetables: Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant origins— such as whole grains and beans.

Preserve a healthy weight: Eat lighter and leaner by selecting fewer high-calorie foods, including purified sugars and fat from animal origins.

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in restraint. The risk of different types of disease — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — grows with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking day by day.

Limit processed meats or Non-veg Foods: A report from the International Research Agency for this disease, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), concluded that eating large amounts of processed meat can just increase the risk of specific types of cancer.

In addition, women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a declined risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet concentrates mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Individuals who follow the Mediterranean diet select healthy fats, such as olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat.

Maintain a healthy weight and perform physical activity

Maintaining a healthy weight might decline the risk of different types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney.

Physical activity matters, too. In addition, to control your weight to being overweight, physical activity on its own might reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.

Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity achieve some health benefits. But for substantial health benefits, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of enthusiastic aerobic activity. You can also do a hybrid of moderate and vigorous activity. As a public goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your everyday routine — and if you can do more, even better.

Protect yourself from the sun

Skin cancer is one of the most typical kinds of cancer — and one of the most preventable. Try these suggestions:

Avoid mid-day sun: Stay out of the sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most powerful and fall directly on earth.

Stay in the shade: When you’re outdoors, stay in the shadow as much as possible. Sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats usefulness, too.

Cover revealed areas: Wear tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as feasible. Opt for bright or dark colours, which reflect additional ultraviolet radiation than pastels or bleached cotton.

Don’t skimp on sunscreen: Utilize a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days. Use sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more frequently if you’re swimming or perspiring.

Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps: These are just as destructive as natural sunlight.

Get vaccinated

Cancer prevention includes safety from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about vaccination against Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B can raise the risk of liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is suggested for particular adults at high risks — such as grown-ups who are sexually active but not in a mutually monogamous relationship, individuals with sexually transmitted infections, and individuals who use intravenous medications.

Avoid risky behaviours

Another effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviours that can lead to illnesses that, in turn, might raise the risk of cancer. 

Get regular medical care

Regular self-exams and screenings for different types of cancers — such as cancer of the skin, colon, cervix and breast — can improve your chances of discovering cancer early, when therapy is most likely to be successful. 

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