Published on 27 February 2021

Together, All Our Action Matters- World Cancer Day 2021

Published on 27 February 2021

This Year's World Cancer Day take place on 4th February 2021. As all the people known, cancer is a critical health and human issues. About  10 million people die each year from cancer. That’s more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. By 2030, experts project cancer deaths to rise to 13 million. If we act fast knowing this condition, more than one third of cancer cases can be prevented. Another third can be cured if detected early and treated properly. By implementing resource-appropriate strategies on prevention, early detection and treatment, we can save people from dying because cancer.

Here's a bit explanation about what cancer is and how threatening cancer in our lives.

Cancer is a disease which occurs when changes in a group of normal cells within the body lead to uncontrolled, abnormal growth forming a lump called a tumor, this is true of all cancers except leukemia (cancer of the blood).If left untreated, tumors can grow and spread into the surrounding normal tissue, or to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic systems, and can affect the digestive, nervous and circulatory systems or release hormones that may affect body function.

Tumors can be divided in three groups, which are:

  • Benign tumors are not cancerous and rarely threaten life. They tend to grow quite slowly, do not spread to other parts of the body and are usually made up of cells quite similar to normal or healthy cells. They will only cause a problem if they grow very large, becoming uncomfortable or press on other organs - for example a brain tumor inside the skull.
  • Malignant tumors are faster growing than benign tumors and have the ability to spread and destroy neighboring tissues. Cells of malignant tumors can break off from the main (primary) tumor and spread to other parts of the body through a process known as metastasis. Upon invading healthy tissue at the new site they continue to divide and grow. These secondary sites are known as metastases and the condition is referred to as metastatic cancer.
  • Precancerous (or premalignant) describes the condition involving abnormal cells which may (or is likely to) develop into cancer.

Tumors can be classified from the type cell they start from. There're 5 types:

  • Carcinoma. A cancer that arises from the epithelial cells (the lining of cells that helps protect or enclose organs). Carcinomas may invade the surrounding tissues and organs and metastasize to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body. The most common forms of cancer in this group are breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer
  • Sarcoma. A type of malignant tumor of the bone or soft tissue (fat, muscle, blood vessels, nerves and other connective tissues that support and surround organs). The most common forms of sarcoma are leiomyosarcoma, liposarcoma and osteosarcoma
  • Lymphoma and Myeloma. Lymphoma and Myeloma are cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which runs all through the body, and can therefore occur anywhere. Myeloma (or multiple myeloma) starts in the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies to help fight infection. This cancer can affect the cell's ability to produce antibodies effectively
  • Leukemia. Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells and bone marrow, the tissue that forms blood cells. There are several subtypes, common are lymphocytic leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Brain and spinal cord cancers. These are known as central nervous system cancers. Some are benign while others can grow and spread.

Cancers can be caused by a number of different factors and, as with many other illnesses, most cancers are the result of exposure to a number of different causal factors. There're Modifiable risk factors include:

  • alcohol
  • overweight or obese
  • diet and nutrition
  • physical activity
  • smoking
  • ionizing radiation
  • workplace hazard
  • infection

But there're Non-modifiable risk factors include: 

  • age
  • cancer causing substances
  • genetics
  • immune systems

Sign and symptoms are varies, but there are common signs and symptoms too, such as:

  • Unusual lumps or swelling, cancerous lumps are often painless and may increase in size as the cancer progresses
  • Coughing, breathlessness or difficulty swallowing 
  • Changes in bowel habit such as constipation and diarrhea and/or blood found in the stools
  • Unexpected bleeding includes bleeding from the vagina, anal passage, or blood found in stools, in urine or when coughing
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Fatigues
  • Pain or ache 
  • New mole or changes to a mole, look for changes in size, shape, or color and if it becomes crusty or bleeds or oozes
  • Complications with urinating includes needing to urinate urgently, more frequently, or being unable to go when you need to or experiencing pain while urinating
  • Unusual breast changes such as changes in size, shape or feel, skin changes and pain
  • Appetite loss 
  • A sore or ulcer that won’t heal 
  • Heartburn or indigestion 
  • Heavy night sweats 

Management of the cancer depends on what kind of cancer, where it's located, how big it is, etc. The general types of treatments include:

  • Surgery. If a cancer has not metastasized (spread), surgery can remove the entire cancer which may completely cure the disease. Often, this is effective in removing the prostate or a breast or testicle.
  • radiotherapy. Radiation treatment or radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to reduce a tumor or destroy cancer cells as a stand-alone treatment and in some cases in combination with other cancer treatments.
  • chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses chemicals to interfere with the way cells divide - damaging of DNA - so that cancer cells will destroy themselves. These treatments target any rapidly dividing cells (not necessarily just cancer cells), but normal cells usually can recover from any chemical-induced damage while cancer cells cannot. Chemotherapy is generally used to treat cancer that has spread or metastasized because the medicines travel throughout the entire body. It is a necessary treatment for some forms of leukemia and lymphoma.
  • immunotherapy. Immunotherapy uses the body's own immune system to fight the cancer tumor. Immunotherapy may treat the whole body by giving an agent that can shrink tumors.
  • hormone therapy. Several cancers have been linked to some types of hormones, including breast and prostate cancer. Hormone therapy works to change hormone production in the body so that cancer cells stop growing or are killed completely.
  • Gene therapy. The goal of gene therapy is to replace damaged genes with ones that work to address a root cause of cancer: damage to DNA. Other gene-based therapies focus on further damaging cancer cell DNA to the point where the cell destroys themselves. However, gene therapy is new and has not yet resulted in any successful treatments.