Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cancer Treatment and Prevention

Cancer is a class of diseases or disorders characterized by uncontrolled division of cells and the ability of these to spread, either by direct growth into adjacent tissue through invasion, or by implantation into distant sites by metastasis (where cancer cells are transported through the bloodstream or lymphatic system). Cancer may affect people at all ages, but risk tends to increase with age. There are many types of cancer. Most cancers are named for where they start. For example, lung cancer starts in the lung, and breast cancer starts in the breast. The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is called metastasis. Severity of symptoms depends on the site and character of the malignancy and whether there is metastasis.

Cancer is caused by damage to DNA, resulting in mutations to genes that encode for proteins controlling cell division. Many mutation events may be required to transform a normal cell into a malignant cell. This tissue is obtained by biopsy or surgery.. These mutations can be caused by radiation, chemicals or physical agents that cause cancer, which are called carcinogens, or by certain viruses that can insert their DNA into the human genome. Mutations occur spontaneously, and may be passed down from one cell generation to the next as a result of mutations within germ lines. However, some carcinogens also appear to work through non-mutagenic pathways that affect the level of transcription of certain genes without causing genetic mutation.

Treatment of Cancer

Cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy or other methods. Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs ("anticancer drugs") that can destroy cancer cells. It interferes with cell division in various possible ways, e.g. with the duplication of DNA or the separation of newly formed chromosomes. Most forms of chemotherapy target all rapidly dividing cells and are not specific for cancer cells. Hence, chemotherapy has the potential to harm healthy tissue, especially those tissues that have a high replacement rate (e.g. intestinal lining). These cells usually repair themselves after chemotherapy. Treatment of some leukaemias and lymphomas requires the use of high-dose chemotherapy, and total body irradiation (TBI). This treatment ablates the bone marrow, and hence the body's ability to recover and repopulate the blood.

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy, X-ray therapy, or irradiation) is the use of ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy can be administered externally via external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) or internally via brachytherapy. The effects of radiation therapy are localised and confined to the region being treated. Radiation. Hormone-sensitive tumors include certain types of breast and prostate cancers. Removing or blocking estrogen or testosterone is often an important additional treatment. Pain medication, such as morphine and oxycodone, and antiemetics, drugs to suppress nausea and vomiting, are very commonly used in patients with cancer-related symptoms. Cancers can be cured if entirely removed by surgery, but this is not always possible. When the cancer has metastasized to other sites in the body prior to surgery, complete surgical excision is usually impossible.

Prevention of Cancer

Cancer prevention is defined as active measures to decrease the incidence of cancer. Much of the promise for cancer prevention comes from observational epidemiologic studies that show associations between modifiable life style factors or environmental exposures and specific cancers. Use of exogenous hormones, exposure to ionizing radiation and ultraviolet radiation, certain occupational and chemical exposures, and infectious agents. Alcohol consumption, Smoking (although 20% of women with lung cancer have never smoked, versus 10% of men. Cancer however, compared with tobacco exposure, the magnitude of effect is modest or small and the strength of evidence is often weaker. Do not take the Alcohol and No Smoking.

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