With an aim to spread awareness about cancer, Dr Diwakar Pandey, Senior Surgical Oncologist at one of the best cancer hospital in Chhattisgarh, Sanjeevani CBCC USA Cancer Hospital, shared that when it comes to cancer, sometimes the simplest questions remain unresolved. With an aim to spread cancer awareness among people, he answered 10 common and important questions related to cancer, which people often think about, to help people better understand this serious disease.
- Who gets cancer?
Anyone can get cancer, although the risk of cancer increases with age. Your individual cancer risk depends on factors such as smoking, lifestyle (such as what you eat and how much exercise), your family history of cancer, and the presence of carcinogens in your workplace and environment.
- How does cancer start?
Your body is made up of many different types of cells. Under normal conditions, cells grow, divide, grow old and die. Then, in most cases, they are replaced by new cells. But sometimes cancerous factors cause mutations in cells and they grow out of control, causing them to form a mass or tumor instead of being destroyed.
Tumors can be of benign (mild, non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) types. Cancerous tumors can attack and destroy your body's cells. They can also spread to other parts of the body, causing new tumors to form there. This process is called metastasis and represents cancer that has reached an advanced stage.
- Is cancer genetic?
Dr. Pandey, one of the best cancer specialist in Raipur, explained that cancer is a genetic disease. This is because cancer is caused by mutations or changes in genes that control the way our cells function, causing them to behave erratically. These mutations can be inherited from ancestors, with a probability of about 5-10 percent of all cancer cases. However, it is more likely that these gene changes are due to factors other than genetics during a person's lifetime.
When a person has a family history of hereditary cancer, genetic testing is often recommended.
- Is cancer contagious?
No, cancer is not like the flu or a cold. It is not contagious. It does not spread with contact.
- Is there a vaccine for cancer?
There is no vaccine for cancer. But there are vaccines for some viruses known to cause cancer, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B.
HPV can cause cancer, and getting vaccinated against it can help protect against the types of HPV that can cause cancers of the cervix (cervical cancer), rectal (rectal cancer), throat and throat, along with some other forms of cancer.
There can be cancer of the penis. The HPV vaccine protects against several types of viruses that can cause these cancers.
The above approach can also be used for infection with the hepatitis B virus, which has been linked to liver cancer. Getting vaccinated against hepatitis B can reduce the risk of liver cancer. But like the HPV vaccine, the hepatitis B vaccine does not protect itself against liver cancer. It only protects against the virus that can cause liver cancer.
- Can cancer be cured?
Yes. When cancer treatment is working, your doctor may say that the cancer is curing. Partial remission occurs when the cancer shrinks but does not disappear. A complete remission means there is no longer any sign of cancer. There is a greater chance of complete cure of cancer in the early stage and with the help of modern technologies, advanced stage cancer can also be controlled to a great extent. The longer the cancer is completely cured, the less likely it is to come back, and after a time your doctor may notify you that you are cancer-free.
- What are the stages of cancer, and what do they mean?
Cancer usually has four stages:
From I to IV (1 to 4). Some cancers even have a stage 0 (zero). Here's what these steps mean:
Stage 0: This stage means that the cancer is still found in the place where it started and has not spread to nearby cells. Stage 0 cancers are often curable.
Stage I: This stage usually represents a small tumor or cancer that has not grown much into nearby cells. This is sometimes called early stage cancer.
Stages II and III: These stages usually represent large cancers or tumors that have over-grown into nearby cells. They can also spread to lymph nodes. However, in such cases the tumors have not spread to other organs or parts of the body.
Stage IV: In this stage the cancer has spread to other organs or parts of the body. This may be referred to as metastatic or advanced cancer.
- What are the symptoms of cancer?
Dr. Diwakar explained that the symptoms of cancer can appear in many cases, but not always. Symptoms of cancer generally depend on where the cancer is located and how big it is. Some common symptoms of cancer are as follows:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Skin changes
- Changes in urinary habits or bladder function
- Delay in wound healing
- Unusual bleeding or discharge
- Lump or bulge in any part of the body
- Indigestion or trouble swallowing
- Recent change in the wart or moleFrequent coughing or hoarseness
Keep in mind that there may be other reasons for these signs and symptoms. The best way to get information about cancer is to consult a doctor. If you notice any of these symptoms and they do not disappear, then it is time for you to go to the doctor for a checkup and consultation.
- What is Chemotherapy and immunotherapy?
Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. But chemotherapy drugs can also damage healthy cells, leading to side effects of treatment. Newer drugs, called targeted drugs, block genes or proteins found in cancer cells. Targeted therapy usually causes less damage to healthy cells, but still has side effects. Immunotherapy uses hormones and other drugs that work with your immune system to treat cancer.
- When should I get tested for cancer?
There are many screening tests for cancer, which are selected by the doctor according to different cases. Therefore, it is best to consult with your doctor to decide what kind of tests you may need and when.