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Published On: Saturday April 22, 2017
With an unprecedented rise in documented cancer patients, the internet is flooded daily by frightened people grasping for hope to fight this modern day plague. Finding the “cure for cancer” has become more of a corporate propaganda than scientific research. But is there really a single, simplistic “cure” for cancer? Scientists agree that to consider the possibility of such an option would be a gross over-simplification. But if there is one, a search for it should begin with first understanding what cancer truly means.
What is cancer?
Defined as an uncontrolled growth/proliferation of cells, cancer is synonymous to neoplasia. Most of normal human cells follow a cycle to form new cells as part of regeneration and repair. They multiply, age, die, and are efficiently replaced. When a noxious stimulus disrupts this natural process of destruction and regeneration, the intricate cycle is harmed and results in the formation of an abnormal mass of tissue. Cancer is a genetic disease and is caused by damage to the normal cellular regulation mechanisms.
Types of cancer?
Cancer being a broad term is often misinterpreted. A cancerous growth need not always be life threatening. On the other hand, an unseen cancer if left undetected can be lethal. Similarly, an abnormal growth need not always be cancerous while a cancerous condition may not exhibit itself as a gross abnormality.
Apart from neoplasms of the blood, most cancerous growths can be seen as solid masses. Depending on their size and location, these tumors are further classified into categories. A tumor can spread from one location to the other by a process known as metastasis.
If the abnormal mass (tumor) is limited to one part of the body, it is said to be benign, but if it spread to other parts of the body, the cancer (neoplasia) is said to be malignant. Often, the benign tumours can be successfully treated without recurrence but there are exceptions (benign tumor of brain can be lethal). For malignant tumors, the prognosis depends on what type of cells does the cancer comprise of; its extent of spread and the rate at which it is spreading. For e.g. The most common cancer of the skin (malignant melanoma) has a survival rate of 89% whereas the same for cancer of the pancreas is 1%. Therefore the first step in understanding whether or not there is a “cure” for cancer, is to address which type of cancer is being referred to.
Fear of cancer is often caused by the misguided practice of self diagnosis. Symptoms of most common and treatable diseases are regrettably self-diagnosed as cancer. Hence, if you find yourself experiencing unusual changes in your body, it is advised that you be examined by an expert who will produce a valid and well-informed diagnosis. Once the diagnosis has been made, a treatment plan is made and the prognosis is determined. These treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted treatment, hormone therapy, stem cell transplant and precision medicine. Usually combinations of therapies are implemented.
A prognosis, in simple terms, is a suggested outcome of the disease and treatment option. A prognosis takes into account different variables such as age of the individual, gender, stage of disease, extent of spread and the type of cancer. Each variable can affect the outcome.
Can it be cured?
The advent of these treatment modalities have led to a significant rise in the global cancer survival rate over the past two decades. In 2016, 67% of survivors have survived 5 years or more after diagnosis; 44% have survived 10 years or more; and 17% have survived 20 years or more. It should to be noted that individuals undergoing treatment with a prognosis of 5 years or above are considered ‘cured’ as the death expectancy becomes approximately the same as that of the general population.
Research: truth or false
One of the major obstacles to progression of scientific medicine is the unbridled availability of baseless theories that gain the stature of urban myths. To accurately identify valid and scientific research it is imperative to double check the source and its viability. A scholarly article is always well referenced and the sources are accountable. Discernment in this matter is crucial for patients and health professionals, likewise. The current trends of medicine propose use of smartly designed macromolecules to target and destroy cancer cells specifically. Claims of certain foods being cancer preventive would be an exaggeration of their otherwise helpful qualities.
Cancer is treatable. Evolving technology permits new modes of treatment to become more effective with fewer side effects. A collaborative effort by scientists, doctors and engineers is targeted towards better treatment modalities. Thorough research is being made available for the different types of cancer. If you are suffering from cancer, the first step to finding a cure for your disease would be to connect to a specialist and be correctly diagnosed. Follow this with in-depth research, suitable line of treatment suggested by the specialists and vigilance, then cancer no longer remains a giant, looming threat on the horizon.
Call 8100-999-111 and talk to Dynamic Medical Experts for FREE. We help you to choose the best oncologist, get a cost estimate for your treatment, get the second opinion and we also assist you to manage your health care process.
- cancerresearchuk.org : survival research prognosis
- national cancer institute : www.cancer.gov
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Content Credit: Dr.Nikita Pandey, Pune