Diagnosis of cancer worries everybody. Currently, it is the most discussed and increasingly common disease that according to statistics affects every third person. Most people believe cancer always ends in death. The treatment success, however, depends on its timely initiation. In the last decades, there has been a great advancement in diagnostics revealing even early stages and thus increasing the chance of survival, and in treatment methods aiming to minimise side effects.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease arising from a sudden growth and a rapid multiplication of body cells that as a consequence of many factors result in damaged DNA and behave differently to non-cancerous cells. Typically, a body with adequately strong immune system is able to recognise these changes and repair or eliminate damaged cells. Changed cells can be harmless and cause e.g. cysts, polyps, inflammation, hyperplasia or false (benign) tumours. However, they can also be very dangerous and lead to serious health problems such as malignant tumours and their disseminated deposits – metastases that spread via blood circulation. Tumours may develop in all body tissues, most commonly in areas subject to a rapid cell multiplication – respiratory tract, digestive tract, and areas with tissues stimulated by hormones (breast, ovaries, prostate, or pancreas).
How cancer develops
Cancer does not appear suddenly. It is caused by the accumulation of a number of factors that weaken body’s defence system until it stops working correctly. Cancer diagnosis is usually confirmed late when a lump is palpable, sudden pain or abnormal bleeding occur. However, if you attend preventative health checks or notice even minor body changes, you are more likely to detect cancer in its early stage when the chance for recovery is very high.
Every day about 29 billion cells change in the body. Errors as a consequence of these vast changes are inevitable and influenced by many factors – from genetic or negative effects of free radicals to the immune system deficiency caused by unhealthy lifestyle. Experts suggest that cancer cells are present in every body, moreover, the body itself creates cancer cells every day due to adverse effects of free radicals. Their destruction is the responsibility of the immune system. If strong enough, it can eliminate unwanted cells, and fight off a daily attack of toxins giving cancer no chance. The presence of cancer means that the body somehow suffers, and the immune system lacks powers to defend. Immune system deficiencies are crucial in terms of cancer development.
Cancer risk factors
Most cancers are genetically based. However, a predisposition to a certain type of cancer may not manifest; usually it is a consequence of many factors, a weak immune system being clearly the most significant. Greater risks are also negative impacts of diet, obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption; cancer is less often caused by viral infection. Research reveals that cancer is often associated with age which explains its onset in line with a cellular wear-and-tear. The risk of cancer rises proportionally with age, newly diagnosed diseases tend to be in people around 60, however, this age limit is falling as a result of many negative influences.