Home About Cancer Cancer FAQ


What is Cancer?


Cancer is a disease in which the cells in some part of body grows abnormally and produce swelling or lump or ulcer. Such cancer cell has a potential to grow and divide fast to produce many number of cells. This may occur in many parts of the body.


What are the causes for Cancer?


The different factors that are identified to cause cancer are – tobacco smoking, tobacco chewing, alcohol, some chemicals, certain viruses and fungus and excess use of some types of diet.


How to detect Cancer?


Cancer is usually detected by clinical examination and confirmed by various tests done in a Hospital. Visible areas in the body can be examined for any swelling or ulcer. Tests like endoscopy, ultrasound examination or CT scan can detect swelling or ulcer within the body. These tests are advised according to the symptoms of an individual. Biopsy or a needle aspiration from the suspected area usually confirms the disease by identifying the cancer cell.


Does cancer spread to others?


Cancer is nor a contagious disease. A patient cannot transmit the disease to any other person. But, some cancers are found to occur in families. Cancers like breast cancer, colon cancer some types of thyroid cancer, etc are seen in family members. The risk varies from fist degree relative to second degree relative. Also the risk may be higher if both maternal and paternal family members has cancer


What are the early signs of cancer?


Cancer can present as swelling or an ulcer. So any long standing ulcer or any recently developed swelling has to be tested. Difficulty in swallowing, pain on swallowing, foreign body sensation in throat, change in voice, long standing cough, progressively increasing breathlessness, constipation, bleeding through rectum or vagina etc are some of the signs of cancers.


How is cancer treated?


Cancer treatment is simple and cheap and more effective when detected early. As the cancer advances the treatment becomes difficult, more complex and more expensive. There are three main mode of therapy at present. These are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. An early cancer is treated with any one of these method, according to the site of disease. Whereas advanced cancers are treated by using all or any combination of these modalities.


What are the side effects of treatment?


Radiation therapy removes cancer by a form of X-rays. Thus some of the normal areas also get minimal damage. This can cause burning sensation in mouth, ulcer in mouth, dryness, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, skin discoloration etc. These changes are usually temporary. Chemotherapy uses certain drugs that act on fast dividing cells in the body like the cancer cells. Hence some other fast dividing cells are also damaged as in bone marrow, hair etc. A patient may have tiredness, risk of infection, fever, hair loss etc. These side effects also are temporary.


What is the prognosis of a cancer patient?


A patient with an early cancer can be cured completely. The chance of cure decreases as the stage of the disease increases. Patient with advanced cancers have the risk of disease coming back even after completely treating the disease. This chance is high during the initial 2-3 years after completing the treatment. Hence all the cancer patients are followed up closely for the first five years and then yearly. An early detection of a recurrence of cancer can be treated with a better chance of cure.

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