Cancer Definitions and How to Deal With It

Cancer is a disease that begins to occur in one organ or tissue in the body due to abnormal cells growing uncontrollably, attacking the surrounding area or spreading to other organs. This disease is the second most common cause of death in the world.

What is cancer (cancer)?

Basically, the body consists of trillions of cells scattered in every organ. These cells grow, develop, age and die, then  new cells replacing it. Unfortunately, cells can work abnormally out of control.

Abnormal cells experience errors in the system, so that damaged cells do not die by themselves. Instead, the cell continues to multiply and multiply aggressively as much as possible.

This abnormal cell disease has many types. So there are various types of cancer based on the cells affected, including:

  • Carcinoma: Abnormal cells that attack abnormal epithelial cells, namely cells that line the surface of the skin, blood vessels, urinary tract, and organs.
  • Sarcoma: This disease originates from cells that form in the body’s soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, fat, blood vessels, nerves, and tissues around joints.
  • Lymphoma: Lymphoma is a cancer cell that occurs in T cells or B cells, which are white blood cells that are part of the immune system.
  • Leukemia: Abnormal cells that start in the blood-forming tissues of the bone marrow.
    Multiple myeloma: Multiple myeloma disease that starts in plasma cells, another type of immune cell.
  • Melanoma: Melanoma is the one that occurs inside the melanocyte cells, which are the cells that make melanin (the substance that gives skin its color).
  • Brain and spine cancer: Abnormal cells that form in the central nervous system.
    Other types of cancer: For example, cancer cells that attack eggs, sperm cells, cells that release hormones into the blood (neuroendocrine), and cells in the digestive system.

How common is this disease?

This disease is very common and affects all ages. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Health, Riskesdas data shows the prevalence of cancer in Indonesia has increased from 1.4 per 1000 population in 2013 to 1.79 per 1000 population in 2018.

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The most common types that attack women are breast cancer and cervical cancer (cervical).

While in men, the most common types of attack are prostate cancer and lung cancer. Then, which often attacks children is leukemia.

Based on WHO data, the most common types that cause death are lung cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, and breast cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms?

People who experience this disease, do not necessarily show symptoms at an early stage. Generally, symptoms will appear when the disease has entered an advanced stage, namely stages 2, 3, and 4.

Each symptom shown, determines the type of cancer you have. The following symptoms of cancer in the body that are generally felt are:

  • Weight loss for no reason.
  • Fever that appears and recurs.
  • Pain or soreness in certain areas of the body.
  • The skin becomes darker in color (hyperpigmentation), reddened skin, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, and excessive hair growth on the skin.
  • Sores in the mouth, penis, or vagina that don’t heal.
  • A cancerous lump appears that is red, enlarged, and painful.
  • Coughing up blood, bloody stools, bloody urine, and unusual vaginal bleeding.

When should you see a doctor?

If you experience the above symptoms and do not improve within 1 or 2 weeks, see a doctor immediately. If the doctor suspects these symptoms to be cancer, you will be referred to a specialist / oncologist or oncologist to get prevention.

Clinically, oncologists are divided into several categories and what you need to know are:

  • A medical oncologist who acts as the primary physician during treatment.
  • Radiation oncology treats abnormal cells with radiotherapy.
  • Surgical oncologist in charge of treating abnormal cells with surgical procedures.
  • Gynecological oncology treats abnormal cells associated with the female reproductive system.
  • Pediatric oncology specializes in treating cancer in newborns up to 18 years of age.
  • Hematology oncology is in charge of treating blood-related cancers in the body.
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What causes?

The main cause of this disease is a change in the DNA in the cell (mutation). The DNA in cells contains a number of genes, each of which has a set of command systems for working, dividing, shutting down, and renewing.

However, the system malfunctions and stops the normal function of the cells, thereby becoming abnormal. The occurrence of this gene mutation error causes a gene inherited from a parent and it is referred to as a common cause of cancer in children.

This problematic gene mutation can also be triggered by other factors. Starting from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), radiation, cigarette smoke, viruses, obesity related to unhealthy food choices and lack of exercise, to other changes that affect hormones or the body’s biological clock.

People who have cancer can have more than one type and you can call it secondary cancer or metastatic tumor. This condition indicates the presence of spread to other organs, either simultaneously or even after the main type has healed.

These cancers are separated from the main types and spread to other organs through the blood or lymph vessels (metastasize).

For example, a person with breast cancer as the main cancer. Gradually, these abnormal cells can spread to other organs, such as the lungs. Although, located in different organs (lungs), but the cancer cells are the same cells as those in the breast.

What increases the risk of developing cancer?

There are various factors that make a person more susceptible to abnormal changes in his body cells. The following risk factors for cancer are:

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Age. This disease may take time for the body. Therefore, most are diagnosed at the age of 65 years or older. Age may also make the body’s cells experience system errors.
Bad habits. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive sun exposure, obesity, and unsafe sex factoring in the body’s cells getting out of control.
Family history. In most cases, the problem with abnormal cells is hereditary, family pass down it.
Health condition. Certain conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, can cause cells in the intestines to become abnormally out of control.
Environment. Exposure to chemicals, such as benzene at home or at work, can increase the risk of this disease.
Diagnosis and treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.

How is cancer diagnosed?

I have recommendation to diagnose the disease as soon as possible to get the best chance of cure, especially in the early stages. Doctors can use one or more approaches to diagnose this disease.

Some of the common tests doctors perform to diagnose, include:

Physical examination
In addition to checking for changes in the skin, the doctor may also examine the anus for malignant tumors in the anus or prostate.

Laboratory test
Blood tests need to check the patient’s overall health and detect abnormalities.

Imaging test
Various imaging tests such as a PET scan, MRI, X-ray, ultrasound, and CT scan find out abnormal cells in the body.

A biopsy is an activity to remove a small piece of tissue for examination under a microscope. The samples taken in the biopsy are then analyzed by a pathologist.

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5 thoughts on “Cancer Definitions and How to Deal With It

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