Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body which develops when the body’s normal control mechanism stops working. It is a situation where old cells refuse to die, and instead, grow out of control, forming new, abnormal cells and the extra cells may form a mass of tissue called tumor.
It can also be due to accumulated damage to genes due to exposure to cancer-causing substance called carcinogens. A carcinogen may be a chemical substance such as certain molecules in tobacco smoke.
The human body is made up of 100 million cells, but when just one cell begins to grow and multiply too much, the result is a growth called tumour even though Benign tumours are localised growths – they only cause problems if they put pressure on nearby tissues, such as the brain.
However, malignant tumours are cancerous, they develop if the cells continue to grow and spread, becoming life threatening.
While cancer can affect any part of the body, namely the breast, prostate, liver, skin and brain, it has different treatment options, depending on the type and how advanced it is.
Some cancer patients will have only one treatment, while others will have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, a procedure in which a surgeon removes the cancer from the body.
The different treatment options are Radiation Therapy, which involves the use of high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours, while chemotherapy is treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
Immunotherapy is another type of treatment that helps the immune system to fight cancer, while targeted therapy focuses on changes in cancer cells that help them to grow, divide, and spread.
Hormone therapy is another treatment option that slows or stops the growth of breast and prostate cancers that use hormones to grow, while stem cell transplant is a procedure that restores blood-forming stem cells in cancer patients who have had theirs destroyed by very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
However, there is also precision medicine which helps doctors to select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on genetic understanding of the disease, including how genetic changes in a person’s cancer are identified and used to select treatment option.