The body of an animal is made up of countless small cells. These cells die one after the other and these old cells are replaced by new ones. Cells normally divide in a controlled and regular way to give birth to new cells.
Generally speaking, when these cells continue to grow uncontrollably for any reason, a lump or lump of flesh can be seen under the skin. This is called a tumour. These tumours can be benign or malignant. Malignant tumours are cancerous.
World Cancer Day or World Cancer Awareness Day is celebrated internationally on 4 February every year. On this day, the World Health Organisation supports the International Union against Cancer in preventing cancer and improving the quality of life of cancer patients.
A tissue that divides and grows uncontrollably is called neoplasia, and a cell with a similar function is called a neoplastic cell. When neoplastic cells cannot penetrate the surrounding tissue, it is called a benign tumour.
Benign tumours are not cancers. When neoplasia is able to penetrate, it is called a malignant tumour, and the cells with its uncontrolled divisions are called cancer cells.
Many cancers first start as benign tumours, then some of the cells in them change and the tumour becomes malignant. However, there is no guarantee that benign tumours will turn into cancer.
There are some benign tumour-like disorders that make cancer inevitable. They are called pre-cancer. Benign means innocuous but benign tumours can also damage the surrounding tissue with pressure.
Metastasis is a stage of cancer in which the cancer cells penetrate other tissues and spread to distant tissues through the blood, lymphatic system, etc. Exactly what causes cancer is not yet certain. However, some common causes have been found.
1. Age: In general, the risk of getting cancer increases with age. Because at this time, the body's resistance to disease gradually decreases. It is estimated that 70% of people diagnosed with cancer are over 60 years of age.
2. Diet and lifestyle: Researchers have found a deep connection between cancer, diet and lifestyle. For example, smoking or drinking has been linked to cancer of the lungs, mouth and throat, and liver. Similarly, the consumption of betel nut, jorda, meat, extra salt, sugar, etc. is associated with cancer. Those who generally do less physical activity are also more prone to cancer.
3. Family history: Evidence has also been found that there is a genetic link with cancer. Because of this, if one member of the family is diagnosed with cancer, the risk of others getting cancer is greatly increased.
4. Environmental and occupational factors: There is a big link between chemicals and cancer. For example, a rare type of cancer called mesothelioma involves cells around the lungs and in the abdomen.
9 out of 10 patients have been diagnosed with this cancer due to exposure to the asbestos metal. In general, those involved in the shipbuilding industry are more likely to come in contact with the metal.
Similarly, those who work in paint, rubber or gas factories are exposed to bladder cancer due to exposure to certain chemicals. One of the environmental factors is the sun. Prolonged exposure to the sun increases the risk of skin cancer. There is also a risk of various cancers due to radioactivity.
There are four types of cancer according to the origin of the tissue:
a) Carcinoma: It is a very common type of cancer. These include cancers of the lungs, rectum, breast and ovaries. b) Sarcoma: Usually cancer of bone, vertebrae and muscle is called sarcoma. c) Lymphoma: Lymph nodes are spread all over our body. The body's immune system is involved with these lymph nodes. Cancer of the lymph nodes is called lymphoma. d) Leukaemia: Leukaemia is the cancer of blood cells. These blood cells are born from the bone marrow.
Different methods are used to treat cancer.
1. Surgery: The cancerous cells of the affected area and the surrounding cells are surgically removed. This type of treatment is given if the cancer is spread over a small area and is in the early stages.
2. Radiotherapy: Cells are destroyed in a controlled manner by applying radioactive rays to certain parts of the body.
3. Chemotherapy: In this system, anticancer drugs are used to destroy the cancer cells. There are more than 50 types of chemotherapy drugs. Some of these are taken as tablets or capsules.
But in most cases, these drugs are given directly to the blood with saline or in some other way. When mixed with blood, these drugs try to destroy the cancer cells wherever they are in the body.
4. Hormone therapy: This treatment is done by changing the levels of certain hormones in the body. Hormones have a relationship with body growth. Some cancers are affected by this hormone. As a result, hormone therapy is used to control cancer by reducing the growth of cancer cells.
5. Supportive treatment: Physicians are now emphasising the physical treatment of cancer as well as the mental treatment of patients. Patients go through a lot of emotional distress after being diagnosed with cancer. Many of them even break down emotionally. Because of this, their condition is often not serious but many die quickly.
As a result, doctors advised them to provide different types of services. Various organisations are also working to provide such services in developed countries. One of these is to form a group of cancer patients, where they can share their experiences among themselves.
Apart from this, patients are also taught to control their stress through yoga, meditation etc. In addition, they are encouraged to engage in religious or social activities for emotional relief.
6. Other treatments: Research is underway to develop such drugs that strengthen the body's immune system. Efforts are also being made to develop a cancer vaccine. But these are still in the initial stage.
Studies have shown that regular adherence to certain things can greatly reduce the risk of cancer. Such as:
a) Exercise: Doing some regular exercise every day such as running, cycling, dancing, and walking, doing heavy exercise at least 2 days a week.
b) Eating habits: Quitting or reducing the amount of smoking or drinking, drinking betel nut, stopping eating tobacco, eating less fatty foods, eating less meat and eating lots of vegetables, fruits and fibre.
c) Awareness: When going out, applying sunscreen and consulting a doctor regularly. If that is not possible, visit a doctor if there is any abnormality in the body. If anyone is over 50 years of age, they must go to the doctor regularly and get their body examined regularly.
Md. Arafat Rahman is Assistant Officer, Career and Professional Development Services Department, Southeast University. E-mail: [email protected]
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.