How does cancer evolve? All cancers begin in cells, the body's basic unit of life (NCI para. 4). These constantly changing body cells are stable at first.
In this cycle, they undergo growth, degeneration, repair and adaptation processes in order to keep living organisms healthy and functional. This is done through proper coordination between cells in order for the living organism to survive. As such cell growth and destruction have become a normal course of life. However, there are instances when dysfunction occurs in normal cells and they are produced in excess --- more than what the body needs.
In such cases, masses of tissue called neoplasia arise.
Cancer, also termed as neoplasia, is defined as a condition where damaged cells become irreparable, damaged and mutated thus they become abnormal. It can either be benign or malignant. The former are tumors which are not cancerous while the latter are tumors which are cancerous.
They continue do divide outside the regulatory control mechanisms of normal cells and result in abnormal growths or tumors. Malignant cancers cells have the ability to invade other tissues and organs in the body. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems (NCI para. 1).
Cells that can trigger cancer to develop make their functions. They are mutated stem cells which have gone through certain structural alterations that they are not able to work normally
like they used to. As such, they become specialized functioning for their own growth and survival.
Among the common risk factor of cancer include tobacco or cigarette smoking which can lead to cancer of the lungs, larynx (voice box), mouth, esophagus, bladder, kidney, throat, stomach, pancreas, or cervix.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause skin cancer.
Radiation can increase the risk of cancer as well particularly leukemia and cancers of the thyroid, breast, lung, and stomach. Chemicals such as nitrites, food additives and flavorings may cause any type of cancer. Drugs like arsenicals, stilbestrol and alkylating agents may cause lung cancer. Alcohol, likewise, may trigger liver cancers. Finally, some viruses and bacteria can also result to cervical cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma and stomach and liver cancer.
Cancer-causing factors in lifestyle or the environment are difficult to identify because usually these are a part of daily life of any individual. For example, UV rays. It is normal for anyone to walk under the heat of the sun notwithstanding that it is a risk factor for skin cancer. Radiation, especially if it is a necessity in treatment of certain diseases and diagnostic purposes are oftentimes forgotten to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
To avoid risk factors, one can avoid smoking whether it be actual smoking or secondhand smoke (Fayed para. 2). This should be anyone’s main goal since smoking ---tobacco or cigarette--- is the greatest risk factor for cancer to occur. It is not only true to lung cancer alone but to any type of cancer for that matter.
When going out especially when exposed to sunlight, one can apply sunscreen lotion or wear long sleeves. Also, one must try not to be under the direct heat of the sun but seek some shade under trees or roofs. One must also give special attention to moles, warts and other spots which are likely to be cancerous when triggered. Peak time for sunlight to be at its fiercest heat is between 10 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon.
At these periods, one must avoid being exposed to the sun for a long time.
One must also take proper caution of what he eats especially with foods which are enriched with preservatives as cured meats and grilled or smoked dishes. These contain artificial chemicals and burnt portions of grilled foods are a known carcinogenic. These foods are not forbidden however, they must be taken in minimal or controlled amounts.
The same goes with alcohol. Inasmuch as it is also needed in the body, strict precaution must be given as to its intake. Among habitual or frequent alcohol consumers, alcohol should be controlled.
Studies have shown that overweight individuals are more likely to develop cancer than physically fit ones. Among these exercises include walking, yoga, dancing, rollerblading, tai chi, team sports, swimming, hiking, cycling and dodgeball. According to researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle in 2003, “increased physical activity, even when begun later in life, reduces overall breast-cancer risk by 20 percent among women at all levels of risk for the disease” (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center para. 1).
In another study, the UC San Diego study released in 2007 revealed that “Breast cancer survivors – even obese ones – seem to delay death from recurring cancer or other disease if their daily lifestyle includes 30 minutes of exercise and five servings of fruits and vegetables” (Clark para. 1).
This was conducted among 1,490 women breast cancer in its early stage in the years 1991 to 2000 who went through treatment to relieve cancer then the patients were monitored for the next 6 to 11 years before the above conclusion was made based on the experiment.
In 2007, a $7.5 million grant was awarded to Biodesign Institute Researcher Dr. Stephen Albert Johnston to perform an innovative medical project to work on a vaccine that prevents breast cancer.
This was initiated since cancer is found to be the number two cause of death in women in the United States.
At Missouri University’s technology park in 2005, it was anticipated that genetically-altered soybeans can help prevent cancer. The research district is focusing on agricultural produce as a means to avoid cancer comprising of soybean and corn fields, swine, cows and poultry. This was patterned after the 15-year studies conducted by other technology centers as in Iowa State University or Purdue University.
Included in Cleveland Clinic’s Top Ten Medical Innovations for 2007 is was targeted cancer therapies. “Using second generation, small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors to block or modulate disease and provide treatments for advanced cancers, such as renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Clear cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer which represents 2 percent of all adult cancers” (Cleveland Clinic para. 1).
Researchers in Oxford (2003) have now devised a novel therapeutic regimen that combines the advantages of both chemotherapy and immunotherapy whilst reducing the disadvantages of each (Johnson para. 3). Previous usage of chemotherapy revealed that it can be effective even if given at lower doses thus in this case, the offensive effects of chemotherapy can also be reduced.
Cancer should not be taken for granted especially that its incidence today is alarming and the mortality it has cause is far-reaching as well. It is wise that even at a young age, children and adolescents should be well-informed about this dreaded disease and that it is preventable.
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