What is cancer?
Cancer is an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of the cells that make up living things. Cancer was recognized by the Egyptians as early as 1500 BC. The death rate from this disease has steadily increased nowadays.
Cancer is often thought of as human disease but is actually widespread in most forms of plant and animal life. Tumors have been found in insects, fish, reptiles, birds, fungi, ferns, carrots, spruce, willow, and sugar beets. Over 200 different kinds of cancer are recognized in man, including lung cancer, intestinal tract, stomach, breast, prostate, uterus, urinary organs, brain, bone, endocrine, pancreas, skin, ovary, testes, liver, and in blood-forming tissues, leading to leukemia.
Why do some individuals get cancer, while others don't?
Unlike other disease of man, many of which are known to be caused by specific bacteria or virus (tuberculosis or polio), an inborn metabolic defect (diabetes), or anatomical deteration (heart disease), cancer appears to be a disease that may result from many factors. Different types of cancer may be caused by different combinations of conditions.
Does a human being possess natural defense mechanisms against cancer?
Although it is imprecise and often speculative, but there is reason to believe that the patient is not completely defenseless against the growing cancer. Some have been found to grow slowly in certain individuals. However, when removed from the patient's body and placed in a test tube, cancers grow wildly.
Over 100 cases have been reported in which the body subdued the tumor without treatment. Some cancers develop extremly slowly and often escape detection during the life of the patient. Cancers may lie dormant for years or even decades before they undergo a period of rapid growth and produce the symptoms of disease
Value of early detection
The greatest hope for controlling cancer lies in early detection. It is important for all adults to have a complete physical checkup at least one a year. The American Cancer Society recommends to be alert to ' Cancer's 7 Danger Signals '. These are:
- Unusual bleeding or discharge.
- A lump or thickening in the breast or elsewhere.
- A sore that doesn't heal.
- Change in bowel or bladder habits.
- Hoarseness or cough.
- Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
- Change in a wart or mole.
If a signal lasts longer than two weeks, it is essential that a doctor be consulted.
Source : Encyclopedia International by Sylvia Frank, Research Reports Coordinator, Research Department, American Cancer Society