Cancer and their Treatment: Know More
’ is one of the most dread-est diseases in humans and is the major cause of death across the world. Millions of people suffer from it and a large of people die with it annually. The study of cancer is known as ‘Oncology’
. Its control and treatment are some of the intense areas of research in biology and medicine.
What is Cancer:
Cancer is basically the oncogenic
transformation of normal body cells. In the human body cell growth and differentiation are highly controlled and regulated. In cancer, there is a loss of this regulatory mechanism. Normal body cells have a property called ‘Contact Inhibition’
due to this property other neighbor cells get a signal to inhibit the growth of cells thus controlling the size of cells and regulating cell division in our body. But in cancer due to loss of this property cells continue to grow thus resulting in a Tumour.
So Tumours are basically masses of cells, formed by an uncontrolled, abnormal excessive mitotic division in cells.
These tumors are of 2 types:
- Benign tumor: these tumors remain static at the same location where they are formed and do not spread causing damage to only that particular area.
- Malignant tumor: These tumors have a fearsome property called ‘Metastasis’ due to which the tumor cells get sloughed off from their original location and travel through the blood and get lodged to a new location inside the body thus forming a new tumor so damage almost the whole body.
Types of Cancer:
There are many different types of cancer named based on their location in the body where they exist or why they developed some of the names are listed below:
- Leukaemia: Blood Cancer
- Myosarcoma: Muscle Cancer
- Lymphosarcoma: Lymph node Cancer
- Adenocarcinoma: example- breast cancer and prostate cancer.
- Brain Carcinoma
- Gastric Carcinoma.
- Osteosarcoma : Bone cancer.
- Melanoma or melanocarcinoma.
Causes of Cancer:
Cancer-causing agents are called ‘Carcinogens’
. These carcinogens can be physical, chemical, biological agents. These agents are able to destroy the genome constituent of cells or may disrupt the cellular metabolic process thus disarraying in the cell differentiation process that leads to cells death or excessive cell division resulting in neoplastic tumors.
Some of the examples that come under these categories:
Some fungi also produce cancer-causing toxins called ‘Aflatoxins’.
- Physical carcinogens: it includes materials like gels, fibrous & non-fibrous particles, and hard particles. Even the sharp teeth in humans can sometimes cause tongue cancer.
- Chemical carcinogens: it encompasses certain chemicals like Vinyl Chloride, Nickel, Cadmium, Asbestos, Benzene, Tobacco smoking and chewing is the major cause of lung cancer and oral cancer. It has extremely harmful chemicals like PAH, N- Nitrosodimethyl amine, 1,3- Butadiene, benzene, aldehydes, aza-arenes, etc. these are potent carcinogens. In dye industries, workers are most prone to urinary bladder cancer.
- Biological carcinogens: all the cancer-causing pathogens, viruses fall under this category. Cancer-causing DNA & RNA viruses are known as Oncogenic viruses or tumor viruses and have genes called viral oncogenes. Some examples are Hepatitis-B virus(HBV), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Human herpes virus-8( HHV-8), Human T-cell lymphotropic virus-1 (HTLV-1), etc.
- Some other carcinogens are radiation. These are of 2 types i.e., ionizing radiations and non-ionizing radiation. Ionising includes X-rays & gamma rays whereas non-ionizing includes UV rays. They cause severe DNA damage and mutations in the genome. There is a famous incident of Hiroshima & Nagasaki nuclear bomb blast where due to these radiation effects there are five times more incidents of Leukemia.
Treatment of cancer:
As you know the saying ‘Prevention is better than cure. So avoid taking all the drugs and alcohol. Stay away from smoking and stop taking intravenous drugs. Avoid tobacco. Sometimes blood infusion from the same needle leads to blood cancer. But if once affected there are treatment is the only sure left for cancer.
Some of the methods of treating for cancer are given below:
- Surgery: in this process, the entire cancerous tissue is removed or sometimes the completely affected organ via surgery.
- Chemotherapy: several chemotherapeutic drugs are used that inhibit the synthesis of DNA in neoplastic cells that stop their cell cycle so the cell division.
- Some examples are Vinblastin, Vincristine, Taxol, etc. But these drugs have massive side effects like hair loss, anemia, etc.
- Radiotherapy: in this therapy, cancerous tumors radiated lethally by radiations like X-ray, Iodine therapy(I-131), or Cobalt therapy ( Co-60). And doctors take proper care of patients during this therapy that normal cells and tissues surrounding tumor cells remain unaffected.
- Immunotherapy: it includes Monoclonal antibodies and cancer vaccines. Monoclonal antibodies are specific protein that helps the immune system to destroy cancer cells and help in carrying drugs directly to the cancer cells.
- But research for the development of cancer drugs is still in progress.