Cancer is Canada’s leading cause of death. Last year, it was predicted that cancer would claim the life of 75,000 Canadians. Cancer is such a prominent disease and is so represented by the media that many people fail to truly understand what cancer is, what causes it, and why people develop it.
We have to ask ourselves the question, “Do we really understand what cancer is?”
What exactly is cancer?
Cancer is a disease that originates in the body’s cells. The National Cancer Institute defines cancer as, “A disease in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues.”
In a normal, healthy cell, there are certain ‘commands’ that the cell abides by. “Genes inside each cell order it to grow, work, reproduce and die.” In a cancerous cell, these ‘commands’ are confused and the cells can begin to form tumors.
A tumor can be either malignant, a term meaning ‘cancerous’, or benign, a term meaning ‘non-cancerous’. A benign tumor is not typically fatal and does not usually spread throughout the body.
How does cancer spread?
“Malignant tumor cells are able to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body.” Cancer spreads throughout the body via the blood or lymphatic system.
What causes cancer?
One explanation as to what causes cancer is that a person’s DNA can become damaged, causing the rebellion of the cell to the normal ‘chain of commands’ the body sends it.
What happens if a person’s DNA is changed or damaged? It may “produce mutations that affect normal cell growth and division”. This can cause cells to continue to live after they should have died. This can cause more cells than the body actually needs. It is the excessive cells that can form a tumor.
Why are there different types of cancer?
It seems like there are so many different types of cancer. There are, in fact, in excess of 100 variations of cancer.
In the media as well as the medical world we hear of breast, prostate, colon, and numerous other types of cancer. The explanation for this is that cancer is named after the body part which it originates from.
For example, if cancer starts in a person’s breast, it will be referred to as breast cancer, even though it may spread to other body parts.
What are the warning signs of cancer?
Swelling of the lymph nodes can be a sign of cancer. It’s also possible to have cancer and not be aware of any symptoms early on. To read about more the warning signs of cancer, see http://www.huntsmancancer.org/cancer-information/outreach-programs/native-american-outreach/cancer-warning-signs.
Now that we understand what cancer is, we can turn our faces toward hope, solutions, and the prevention of cancer. Please see our postings this week to learn more about preventing cancer and a new preventative cancer treatment.
*Please note: All research for this article is compiled from direct and third party sources. Mention of programs, organizations and companies does not imply support of The National Benefit Authority. Pictures are for creative purposes only; they are not intended to sell or promote products for the NBA and belong to the accredited individual, organization or company.
Let’s Talk About It
Do you feel you have a relatively good understanding of what cancer is? Do you think it is important to understand what cancer is?
Do you feel that cancer represented by the media is properly explained to youths? Do you think it is important for youths to understand cancer?