What is Cancer?

Cancer is one of the most feared diseases in the world and it affects over 11 lakh people every year in India alone. Worldwide, more than 10 million people succumb to this disease every year. Let us explore what is cancer, the causes of cancer, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

In humans, cell differentiation and proliferation are highly manipulated and regularized by the cell division mechanism. Normal cells prevent the uncontrolled growth of specific property which is called contact inhibition. A breakdown of this cell cycle mechanism in normal cells leads to the formation of cancer cells. As a result, tumours are formed.


Types of Cancer

It is classified into two types of tumours based on their ability to undergo metastasis (spreading)

  1. Benign tumours – These tumours do not spread to the other parts of the body.
  2. Malignant tumours – These tumours grow quickly and spread to other normal tissues of the body. This property is called as metastasis.

Example: Breast cancer. It is a type of cancer commonly found in females. It develops from the breast tissues.

Causes of Cancer

Many factors are involved in the causes of cancer like:

  1. Physical factors – For instance, X – rays and gamma rays.
  2. Chemical factors – Such as, Tobacco and smoke.
  3. Biological factors – Include, Viral oncogenes, proto oncogenes and cellular oncogenes.

The above factors are called carcinogens.

Diagnosis of Cancer

The detection and diagnosis of cancer are very important before it spreads to other parts of the body. Identification of cancer genes is very valuable to prevent cancer.

The following methods are used to detect cancer –

  1. Biopsy.
  2. Histopathological studies of tissue.
  3. Radiography technique.
  4. Computed tomography.
  5. Magnetic resonance imaging.
  6. Molecular biology techniques.

Treatment of Cancer

Commonly, three types of treatment are available for cancer.

  1. Surgery – Surgically removing localized cancerous mass (Effective for benign tumors)
  2. Radiation therapy – In this therapy, radiation is used to kill the cancer cells.
  3. Chemotherapy – Chemotherapeutic drugs are used to kill the cancer cells.

Many chemical drugs have side effects in cancer patients like hair loss. So, interferons are injected into the cancer patient to develop the immunity against cancer.

To learn more about cancer and its side effects, visit Byju’s.

Practise This Question

Which of the following is an anti-cancer drug?