Keep Cancer At A Distance

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

The "C" Word

Cancer /ˈkænsər/ ( listen) (medical term: malignant neoplasm) is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth, invasion that intrudes upon and destroys adjacent tissues, and sometimes metastasis, or spreading to other locations in the body via lymph or blood. These three malignant properties of cancers differentiate them from benign tumors, which do not invade or metastasize.

Researchers divide the causes of cancer into two groups: those with an environmental cause and those with a hereditary genetic cause. Cancer is primarily an environmental disease, though genetics influence the risk of some cancers.

Common environmental factors leading to cancer include: tobacco, diet and obesity, infections, radiation, lack of physical activity, and environmental pollutants. These environmental factors cause or enhance abnormalities in the genetic material of cells. Cell reproduction is an extremely complex process that is normally tightly regulated by several classes of genes, including oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes.

Hereditary or acquired abnormalities in these regulatory genes can lead to the development of cancer. A small percentage of cancers, approximately five to ten percent, are entirely hereditary.

The presence of cancer can be suspected on the basis of symptoms, or findings on radiology. Definitive diagnosis of cancer, however, requires the microscopic examination of a biopsy specimen. Most cancers can be treated. Possible treatments include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

The prognosis is influenced by the type of cancer and the extent of disease. While cancer can affect people of all ages, and a few types of cancer are more common in children, the overall risk of developing cancer increases with age. In 2007 cancer caused about 13% of all human deaths worldwide (7.9 million). Rates are rising as more people live to an old age and lifestyles change in the developing world.

Cancers are primarily an environmental disease with 90-95% of cases attributed to environmental factors and 5-10% due to genetics.

Common environmental factors that contribute to cancer death include: tobacco (25-30%), diet and obesity (30-35%), infections (15-20%), radiation (both ionizing and non ionizing, up to 10%), stress, lack of physical activity , and environmental pollutants .

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Cancers are classified by the type of cell that the tumor resembles and is therefore presumed to be the origin of the tumor. These types include:

Diet, physical inactivity , and obesity are related to approximately 30–35% of cancer cases.