What is Cancer? Diagnosis and Treatment Methods
Cancer is a disease that occurs as a result of uncontrolled proliferation and growth of cells in any organ or tissue of the body. Cancer is named according to the tissue in which it occurs. More than 200 types have been identified. The most common cancer types that cause death are lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancer. If cancer spreads to other organs and tissues from the area where it occurred, this is called metastasis.
Cancer cells can continue to multiply without stopping. Normally, the immune system catches and destroys abnormal cells. However, cancer cells can escape the immune system. Cell death, which is normal in normal body cells, is not seen in cancer cells.
What causes cancer?
The main factor in cancer formation is the deterioration of the genetic structure, that is, DNA, due to congenital or acquired factors. If there are members of your family with cancer, your risk of getting cancer is higher. However, radiation, toxic substances, some viruses and non-cancerous diseases you have been exposed to throughout your life can lead to cancer. Factors that generally lead to cancer:
- Cancer-causing substances (Aflatoxin, arsenic, asbestos, benzene, beryllium, cadmium, coal tar, respirable silica, formaldehyde, chromium, coal smoke inhalation, nickel, radon, second-hand smoke, soot, sulfuric acid)
- chronic inflammation
- Having a weak immune system
How does cancer occur?
The factors we listed above as causes of cancer do not cause cancer in every person. This is due to genetic predisposition to cancer development. Congenital or acquired factors cause DNA damage and cause abnormal cell proliferation in tissues and organs. When cells are exposed to factors that can cause cancer for a long time, some mutations may develop in the cells. These chronic exposures can cause cancerous changes in cells through a series of mutations. These types of abnormal cells can develop in anyone, but an adequate immune system recognizes and eliminates or repairs these cells. As a result of a weakness in the organism’s immune system, uncontrolled proliferation of cells whose structure is damaged increases and cancerous masses form. Again, with the development of other changes in its biological structure, it acquires the feature of metastasis and begins to spread to distant organs.
Types of cancer
Cancers are named either according to the organs in which they occur (lung, breast, brain) or according to the cell type from which they originate. The main types of cancer are:
- Carcinoma: It is the most common type of cancer. They arise from epithelial cells lining the inside and outside of the body. The main ones are adenocarcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, transitional cell carcinoma.
- Sarcoma: Sarcomas; They are cancers that occur in muscle, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels and fibrous tissue (such as tendons and ligaments), bone and soft tissues. Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer. Examples of soft tissue cancers are leimiosarcoma and Kaposi sarcoma.
- Leukemia: It is a type of cancer that originates from the bone marrow and results from the abnormal proliferation of blood cells. It may arise from different blood elements. It may be acute or chronic.
- Lymphoma: There are T and B lymphocytes in our immune system. The type of cancer arising from these cells is called lymphoma. In lymphoma, cancer tissue develops in the lymph nodes and lymph channels. It is divided into Hodgin lymphoma and non-Hodgin lymphoma. The treatment and course of these two types of lymphoma are different.
- Multiple myeloma: It is a type of cancer arising from plasma cells, which are immune system cells. It starts in the bone marrow and affects different bones in the body.
- Melanoma: It is a type of cancer that arises from skin cells called melanocytes.
- Germ cell tumors: Tumors arising from male and female reproductive cells.
- Neuroendocrine tumors: These consist of hormone-secreting cells and release hormones uncontrollably.
- Carcinoid tumors: They arise especially from the digestive system. They cause carcinoid syndrome by causing serotonin release.
After looking at the general types of cancer, let’s take a look at the types of cancer according to the organ or tissue they originate from. You can get more detailed information about types of cancer by clicking on the links below.
- Lung cancer
- cervical cancer
- Nasopharyngeal cancer
- kidney cancer
- brain tumors
- skin cancers
- Colon cancer
- bone tumors
- liver cancer
- Larynx-Throat cancer
- bladder cancer
- breast cancer
- Gastric cancer
- multiple myeloma
- Spinal cord and spinal tumors
- Prostate cancer
- cervical cancer
- Head and neck cancers
- thyroid cancer
- testicular cancer
- Ovarian cancer
What are the possible symptoms of cancer?
- abnormal weight loss
- Blood in urine or stool
- lump in breast
- Mass anywhere in the body
- Cough, chest pain, shortness of breath
- spitting blood
- Unexplained, persistent diarrhea or constipation
- Stomach or anal pain
- blood in cough
- Change in color of moles, crusting, growth
- Abnormal vaginal or rectal bleeding
- Stomach ache
- Long-lasting and unexplained fever
- bone pains
Cancer diagnosis and treatment
If you or your relatives have one or more of the cancer symptoms listed above and they do not go away, you should consult a doctor immediately. The physician first takes the history from the patient. Learns your complaints, background, genetic history and life habits. He then tries to diagnose the disease using laboratory tests and imaging methods. If a tumor is detected, a biopsy is requested. Major laboratory and imaging tests include:
- health analysis
- Urine test
- blood in stool
- Tumor markers
- Computed tomography
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- nuclear scans
- Chemical scintigraphy
- PET CT
- Direct graphics
If cancer is detected as a result of the examinations, it is then checked whether it has metastasized. Cancer staging is done accordingly. Medical oncologists perform cancer treatment. Radiotherapy specialists and nuclear medicine specialists plan the radiotherapy treatment. Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are used in cancer treatment. If cancer has caused side diseases, they are treated.
How is cancer staging done?
- Location of the main tumor
- Size of tumor
- lymph node involvement
- Presence and number of metastases
The above markers determine the course of the disease, survival and mortality rates. Survival is higher in cancers that are detected at an early stage and can be surgically removed. Palliative treatment is performed to provide care and improve the quality of life of a terminal cancer patient.
What are the plants and foods that are good for cancer?
You can come across many foods and herbal mixtures on the internet that claim to be good for cancer. There is no food or plant that has been scientifically proven to be good for cancer. Physicians recommend cancer patients to eat a balanced and healthy diet, avoid stress, sleep well, participate in outdoor activities and get social support.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What causes cancer? There are many factors that have been determined to cause cancer. Radiation, malnutrition, some bacteria and viruses, toxic substances and tobacco are some of them. However, cancer does not occur in every individual exposed to a carcinogen. Genetic structure and immune system play a decisive role here.
- How is cancer diagnosed? If there is an unusual change in your body and it does not go away, you should go to a doctor. Some of these symptoms are rapid weight loss without cause, weakness, loss of appetite, abdominal and chest pain, blood in the stool, urine and vagina, blood in the sputum, jaundice, pallor, a lump growing anywhere in the body, bone pain, abdominal pain, headache, constipation, It can be listed as stomach ache.
- How is cancer screening done? Some types of cancer are detected accidentally during screening. For example, mammography and breast ultrasound are used once a year for screening purposes in women over the age of 40. Colonoscopy and gastroscopy screening are recommended after the age of 50. It may be useful to check tumor markers in the blood periodically. Especially individuals with a family history of cancer should have regular screenings.
- Does stress cause cancer? Stress can lead to a number of physical health problems. However, its relationship with cancer has not been proven. Actions taken due to excessive stress, such as smoking and consuming alcohol, can cause cancer.
- At what stage does cancer kill? The survival time for each cancer is different. Even if some types of cancer are caught at an early stage, they spread very quickly and have a high mortality rate. The factor that determines the death rate from cancer is how quickly it metastasizes as well as the type of cancer. Generally, stage 4 is the most advanced stage.
- How long does one live if cancer spreads to the bone? According to research, bone metastasis shows a worse prognosis in cancer types other than breast cancer.
- Are every tumor a cancer risk? Not every tumor carries a risk of cancer. Benign tumors only have a mass effect and do not spread. In addition, a distinction is made between benign and malignant cancer based on its cell type.
- What is metastasis? Metastasis is the spread of the tumor from the initial organ to other organs and lymph nodes.
- What cancer does EBV cause? EBV virus can cause lymphoma. It also has a role in nasopharyngeal cancers.
- Does EBV virus cause cancer? EBV virus is very common in children and may not cause symptoms. It causes febrile illness in adults and is known as kissing disease. Most EBV patients do not get cancer. It is not possible to predict who will get cancer.
- Does EBV virus recur? Chronic EBV carriers may experience recurrent exacerbations and are usually severe.
- Is the EBV virus contagious? EBV virus is found in saliva. It can be transmitted by hugging, kissing and sharing objects. Children can be silent carriers.