Cancer Treatment – FAQs
- What is cancer?
Cancer is an abnormal growth of a body cell or group of cells. If it is not destroyed or removed, cancer can spread very rapidly, and eventually lead to death.
- What is the difference between normal and cancerous growth?
There are billions of cells in the human body. Normally, they grow in a well-regulated pattern. When cancer sets in, a group of cells suddenly start multiplying haphazardly and form a lump or “tumour”.
- How many kinds of tumours are there?
There are two kinds of tumour – Malignant & Benign. A benign tumour is more common, and is generally harmless. It doesn’t spread to other parts of body. A malignant tumour on the other hand, never stops growing unless until treated and can spread to other parts of the body. cancer is the name given to a malignant growth.
- Is cancer contagious or infectious?
No. Since cancer is not caused by a germ, it is not “catching”, and cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
- Is cancer a blood disease?
No. cancer cells may move through the blood stream to another part of the body indicating spread of disease. Cancer can however develop in certain tissues, which form the blood cells.
- How does cancer spread?
In 3 ways.
- Cancer cells grow through the walls of blood vessels and are carried by the blood stream to other parts of the body.
- They enter the lymphatic stream and are carried to the lymph glands.
- They grow directly in contiguity from one tissue to another.
- How fast does cancer grow?
There is no definite rate of growth of cancer tissue. Some cancers grow fast and some are slow growing. For example it takes 2 to 5 years for breast cancer to develop to 1cm.
- Is cancer a single disease?
No. The term “cancer” includes all forms of malignant growth. Very many varieties are known. These have certain characteristics in common, such as uncontrolled growth, a tendency to spread widely in the body and fatal termination if not treated early and adequately. They differ in certain characteristics, such as location in the body, microscopic appearance, and response to treatment.
- How can you tell if you have cancer?
There are 7 early warning signals. But the real tragedy about cancer is that it produces very minor symptoms at first. So you could have cancer and not know it. The best way to detect cancer is to have a regular yearly check-up.
- How does a doctor tell if growth is cancerous?
By performing a biopsy or FNAC i.e. examining a small portion of the tissue under a microscope. In advanced cases, physical examination alone may reveal the diagnosis. But the chances of cure at late stage are very poor.
- Are cancer and leprosy related?
No. Leprosy is caused by a germ. Both the symptoms and the treatment for the two diseases are entirely different.
- Is cancer a modern disease?
As long ago as 3,000 BC., Egyptian historians made references to ” tumours and ulcers”. Mummies from the Gizeb Pyramids were found to have cancer involving the bones. But the incidence of cancer is increasing. It is related to ‘our life styles and urbanisation i.e, tobacco, alcohol use, pollution, preserved and junk food etc. “It is becoming a disease of modernization.
- Are some people more prone to certain types of cancer?
Yes. Your life-style may make you more prone to some cancers. e.g. cancers of the colon, lung and skin are common in Britain and U.S.A. Cancers involving the oral cavity are more common in India. In women, cancer of the breast, uterus and gall bladder are common.
- What are your chances of getting cancer.
One out of every 8 Indians develop cancer in their lifetime. There are about 8.5 lakh cancer patients in India alone (Year, 2000). Though cancer can occur at any age, the incidence is high after the age of 40 to 45.