03 October 2011

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What is Cancer? Understanding Cancer a disease which can attack any one

What is Cancer? Understanding Cancer a disease which can attack any one

Hippocrates (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC) described several kinds of cancers, referring to them with the Greek word carcinos (crab or crayfish), among others.

The oldest known description and surgical treatment of cancer was discovered in Egypt and dates back to approximately 1600 BC. The Papyrus describes 8 cases of ulcers of the breast that were treated by cauterization, with a tool called "the fire drill." The writing says about the disease, "There is no treatment."

The first cause of cancer was identified by British surgeon Percivall Pott, who discovered in 1775 that cancer of the scrotum was a common disease among chimney sweeps.

The work of other individual physicians led to various insights, but when physicians started working together they could make firmer conclusions.

Since it was against Greek tradition to open the body, Hippocrates only described and made drawings of outwardly visible tumors on the skin, nose, and breasts.

Treatment was based on the humor theory of four bodily fluids (black and yellow bile, blood, and phlegm). According to the patient's humor, treatment consisted of diet, blood-letting, and/or laxatives.

Through the centuries it was discovered that cancer could occur anywhere in the body, but humor-theory based treatment remained popular until the 19th century with the discovery of cells.

19th Century discovery of Cells – the idea that the body was made up of various tissues that in turn were made up of millions of cells, laid rest the humor-theories about chemical imbalances in the body. The age of cellular pathology was born.

Marie Skłodowska Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish–French physicist–chemist famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity.
She was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry.
She was the first female professor at the University of Paris.
She was the first woman to be entombed on her own merits (in 1995) in the Paris Panthéon.

Pierre Curie (15 May 1859 – 19 April 1906) was a French physicist, a pioneer in crystallography, magnetism, piezoelectricity and radioactivity, and Nobel laureate.
He was the son of Dr. Eugène Curie (28 August 1827 – 25 February 1910) and Sophie-Claire Depouilly Curie (15 January 1832 – 27 September 1897).
In 1903 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics with his wife, Maria Salomea Skłodowska-Curie, and Henri Becquerel.

When Marie Curie and Pierre Curie discovered radiation at the end of the 19th century, they stumbled upon the first effective non-surgical cancer treatment.

With radiation also came the first signs of multi-disciplinary approaches to cancer treatment. The surgeon was no longer operating in isolation, but worked together with hospital radiologists to help patients.

Cancer can originate almost anywhere in the body.

Cancer arises from a loss of normal growth control. In normal tissues, the rates of new cell growth and old cell death are kept in balance. In cancer, this balance is disrupted.

Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues.
Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

Cells are the very small units that make up all living things, including the human body. There are billions of cells in each person's body.

Normal cells grow and they get divided and automatically die.

The body is made up of many types of cells.
These cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy.
When cells become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells.

Example of Normal Growth Cell – Skin
The thin outermost layer of normal skin, called the epidermis, is roughly a dozen cells thick.
Cells in the bottom row of this layer, called the basal layer, divide just fast enough to replenish cells that are continually being shed from the surface of the skin.

Each time one of these basal cells divides, it produces two cells.
One remains in the basal layer and retains the capacity to divide.

The other migrates out of the basal layer and loses the capacity to divide.
The number of dividing cells in the basal layer, therefore, stays the same.

Not Normal Cell that is becoming Skin Cancer -

During the development of skin cancer, the normal balance between cell division and cell loss is disrupted.

The basal cells now divide faster than is needed to replenish the cells being shed from the surface of the skin.

Each time one of these basal cells divides, the two newly formed cells will often retain the capacity to divide, thereby leading to an increase in the total number of dividing cells.

But Cancer cells cancer cells just continue to grow and divide out of control and don't die when they're supposed to.

Cancer cells usually group or clump together to form tumors

A growing tumor becomes a lump of cancer cells that can destroy the normal cells around the tumor and damage the body's healthy tissues which brings sickness to the person.

In simple language we can say that the cells which grow, spread very fast and won’t die in that situation it is called as Cancer.

Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases.

Sometimes cancer cells get divided and start to travel in body and then they start to grow in that part of the body, they keep growing and can go on to form new tumors.

This is how cancer spreads.
The spread of a tumor to a new place in the body is called metastasis

Cancers are capable of spreading throughout the body by two mechanisms:
invasion and metastasis.

Invasion refers to the direct migration and penetration by cancer cells into neighboring tissues.

Metastasis refers to the ability of cancer cells to penetrate into lymphatic and blood vessels, circulate through the bloodstream, and then invade normal tissues elsewhere in the body.

The genetic material (DNA) of a cell can become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division.

When this happens, cells do not die when they should and new cells form when the body does not need them. The extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor.

Not all tumors are cancerous; tumors can be benign or malignant.

1. Benign tumors aren't cancerous. They can often be removed, and, in most cases, they do not come back. Cells in benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.

2. Malignant tumors are cancerous. Cells in these tumors can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is called metastasis.

Some cancers do not form tumors.
For example, leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood.

There are more than 100 different types of cancer.

Most of cancers are named after the organ that is body part or the name of the Cell.

Example –

Cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer; cancer that begins in basal cells of the skin is called basal cell carcinoma.

Cancers are usually named using -carcinoma, -sarcoma or -blastoma as a suffix, with the Latin or Greek word for the organ or tissue of origin as the root.

For example,
cancers of the liver parenchyma arising from malignant epithelial cells is called hepatocarcinoma,

while a malignancy arising from primitive liver precursor cells is called a hepatoblastoma,

and a cancer arising from fat cells is called a liposarcoma.

For some common cancers, the English organ name is used.

For example, the most common type of breast cancer is called ductal carcinoma of the breast.
Here, the adjective ductal refers to the appearance of the cancer under the microscope, which suggests that it has originated in the milk ducts.

Cancer types can be grouped into broader categories. The main categories of cancer include:

1. Carcinoma - cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.

2. Sarcoma - cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue.

3. Leukemia - cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood.

4. Lymphoma and myeloma - cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system.

5. Central nervous system cancers - cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.

There are many different types of cancers, but all share one hallmark characteristic: unchecked growth that progresses toward limitless expansion.

Cancer is not contagious.
You can't catch it from someone else who has it — cancer isn't caused by germs, like colds or the flu are. So don't be afraid of anyone else — with cancer.
You can talk to, play with, and hug someone with cancer.

Watch the video –
3D Medical Animation - What is Cancer?

Continued -

Reality views by sm -

Monday, October 03, 2011

Tags- Cancer Understanding Cancer History

Resources –


Anonymous,  October 03, 2011  

Hi that was an informative post. We all talk about cancer but hardly know what it actually means.. and thank you for educating us..
Here is something I wrote quite a while back:


SM October 03, 2011  


i will visit your blog and read the post.

TPShukooR October 03, 2011  

Thanks for your valuable note. It's useful for those who're suffering as well as those who're not suffering.

Anonymous,  October 03, 2011  

informative post on cancer

Renu October 03, 2011  

C is a depressing word, so didnt read it sorry!

Kirtivasan Ganesan October 03, 2011  

Cancer is a dreaded disease. Thanks for all the information.

Usha October 03, 2011  

sm, Thanks for this detail post on the worlds deadliest disease Cancer...as I was reading I remembered all the known people who suffered from cancer. It is very painful...today I learned how complex this disease is..and I guess Cancer is rapidly growing...looking forward for next post on Cancer.

Also recently heard that Food and drug administration has confirmed shortage of various life saving drugs and they include many cancer treating drugs..How cancer patients will get treated in future? I could not understand why drug shortage?

sm,  October 04, 2011  

About drugs also I will try to write.