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Cancer, its causes and effects

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Cancer, its causes and effects Matthew Bradfield What we think of as "Cancer" is actually a group of more than one hundred separate diseases. These diseases are all characterized by an abnormal and unregulated growth of cells. This growth destroys surrounding body tissues and may spread to other parts of the body in a process that is known as metastasis. The most common cancers include: Skin cancer, Lung cancer, Brain cancer, Breast cancer, Prostate cancer, Colon cancer, ovarian cancer, Leukaemia and Lymphoma but there are many others as well Cancer can develop anywhere in the body, and at any age. Unlike infectious diseases such as AIDS, the flu or TB, cancer is not contagious - cancer is usually caused by genetic damage that happens inside an individual cell. Cells affected by cancer are called malignant cells. Malignant cells are different from normal cells in the body in that they divide much more rapidly than they should and co we see that the interphase of a malignant cell is greatly reduced in time as the process or mitosis and cell division happens a lot more often that in normal healthy cells. ...read more.


One of the main problems with treating cancer is the possibility of metastasis. This is the process where millions of malignant cells are released from the tumour, where the cancer first developed, into the bloodstream. Fortunately, most of these cells are killed by trauma produced while travelling within the blood vessel walls, or by circulating white blood cells from the immune system, such as the T-cells. Other immune cells that battle malignant cells are macrophages, antigen-presenting cells, and substances produced by immune cells called lymphocytes. In some cases, the circulating malignant cells survive and adhere to the inner muscular lining of the blood vessel walls. Here the process of tumour formation can begin in a different area of the body and cause a secondary tumour, causing further destruction. Cancer is caused by a number of factors, some of which we can control, and some we cannot. One of the uncontrollable factors is the presence of gene mutations. One type of gene that plays a role in normal cell growth is called an ontogeny. ...read more.


There are substances called carcinogens that can increase the risk of getting cancer. Some common carcinogens include: Arsenic, asbestos, and nickel, which can cause lung and other cancers; Benzene, which can cause leukaemia; Formaldehyde, which can cause nasal and nasopharyngeal cancer; and many others. Carcinogens that are associated with a person's lifestyle include alcohol, which increases the risk of oral, oesophageal, and oropharyngeal cancer, and tobacco, which causes lung, head and neck, oesophageal, and bladder cancer. Smokeless or chewing tobacco can also increase the risk of oral cancer. Unprotected exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) is associated with skin cancer. The main cancers caused by sunlight are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. However, according to some studies, nearly two out of three people can avoid cancer by not smoking and eating a healthful diet that limits high fat foods and includes generous servings of fruits and vegetables. Other habits that discourage cancer include: Limiting the use of alcohol; Including physical activity into your daily routine; Maintaining a healthy body weight; Reducing environmental exposure to carcinogens and using sunscreen when outside. ...read more.

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