|Cancer describes a physiological process of uncontrolled cellular growth. Basically, various cancerous cells can divide into becoming more new cancerous cells that invade other surrounding cells and accumulate in new parts of the body. There are at least 200 different kinds of cancers. They can develop in almost any organ, fluid, or tissue. Some cancers affect blood cells, some affect skin; others affect bone, muscle, or nerve tissue.
The two basic classifications of cancer are:
- Tumorous cancers
- Blood or bone borne cancers
Tumorous cancers appear visually as a swelling, a raised protuberance, or lump of some sort. Tumors result from uncontrolled cellular division which can systemically spread through the blood or lymphatic system to other locations of the body.
Its important to note though that not all tumors are cancerous:
-Benign (noncancerous) tumors do not spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). Benign forms of cancer are rarely life threatening.
Blood or Bone Cancers
Blood or Bone cancers are considered leukemias, and are characterized by an abnormal increase in the number of leucocytes in the tissues of the body. This form of cancer is not as visually prominent as tumorous cancers, however; victims of leukemia demonstrate visual markers as well.
Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. During the early years of a person's life, normal cells divide more rapidly until the person becomes an adult. After maturation, cells in most parts of the body divide to replace worn-out or dying cells and to repair injuries; however, their replacement does not exceed the dead cells in proliferation.
Thus, for the cancer cell, instead of dying, they outlive normal cells and continue to form new abnormal cells.
The process by which cancer cells travel to other parts of the body where they begin to grow and replace normal tissue is called metastasis. This process occurs as the cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels of our body. The most common site for metastasis is the lungs. 7 Causes include variables ranging from genetic to environmental factors. 34
Note: When cells from a cancer, like breast cancer, spread to another organ, like the liver, the cancer is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer.
A Special Note
There are varying degrees of cancer ranging from typical to advanced cancer. However, because there can be too much cancer to be removed, advanced cancer does not necessarily have to have spread to new locations to be considered such.
Genetic or Hereditary Factors
Cancer cells develop because of damage to DNA. Although most of the time when DNA becomes damaged the body is able to repair it, in cancer cells the damaged DNA is not repaired. People can inherit damaged DNA, a genetic cause of cancer. Research indicates that a specific allelic loss on chromosome 17 can be used as an indicator to determine aspects of tumor presentation and disease behavior in human breast cancer. 34 Having a family history of breast cancer does not increase the likelihood of a woman partaking in healthy behavior, such as modifying the diet and increasing physical activity.
Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer are more likely to undergo surgical risk-reduction by way of prophylactic mastectomy and bilateral oophorectomy than women without a family history. 26
Some known genetic factors include:
- Certain Jewish decent 41, 32
- BRCA 1 32
- BRCA 2 genes 32
Many times though, a person’s DNA becomes damaged by exposure to something in the environment, like smoking 17, 42, 43.
Other potential causes of cancer include the following:
- Radiation 36, 43
- Arsenic exposures 12
- Sunlight 19, 36, 43
- Tobacco 42, 47
- Certain viruses
- Benzene 25
- Postmenopausal use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) 13,9
- Agent Orange 21
Prevention through Diet
Dietary intake of the antioxidant lycopene significantly reduces pancreatic cancer risk in men.
Lycopene is found in fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes.
An inverse association exists between pancreatic cancer risk and dietary intake of B-carotene and total carotenoid among individuals who never smoked. 31