Cancer is caused by the uncontrolled mitosis (division) of cells, and these cancerous cells can travel around the body either invading other tissues or spreading through the body in the bloodstream or in the lymphatic system, the spreading is known as metastasis.
Cancer is one of the leading killers in developed countries. Risk of cancer does increase with age, however it is found in all age groups in varying forms.
Carcinogens are physical agents that are known to cause cancer. Radiation, chemicals and overexposure to sunlight are known to cause cancer, along with environmental factors such as cigarette smoke and alcohol-which have proven links to certain cancers. However cancers do not always have to have a catalyst such as radiation or chemicals.
Cancer begins with a factor that damages DNA. By damaging the DNA within a cell, the genes that that particular piece of DNA codes for are mutated. This means that the genes will produce a mutated, malignant cell, which will then divide again producing more and more malignant cells.Sometimes there can just be a failure in the DNA copying process within the cell. This leads to mutated genes being produced, causing a malignant cell to be accidentally made by the body-which will continue to divide. Sometimes there can be a failure in the DNA copying process within the cell, leading to malignant cells being made accidentally by the body.
There are billions of billions of cells in the body, and it only takes one of these tiny cells to become malignant to cause cancer. Once the malignant cell begins to divide it can form a tumor. Some tumors are easily removed from the body surgically, although it is fundamental that every single malignant cell is removed from the body for this to be a success. Problems begin to arise when metastasis occurs and the malignant cells are spread throughout the body causing secondary tumors. It is impossible to know where the malignant cells are being deposited until the secondary tumors appear. In this case surgery is no longer an option.
An alternative to surgery is radiotherapy or chemotherapy. However, although the treatment is successful in killing cancerous cells, unfortunately it also kills healthy cells-putting patients under considerable physical strain.
There are drugs that have been developed to combat specific cancers, and as research progresses further in this field-more and more answers and treatments are developed.
The cure for cancer lies in the knowledge of either cutting off the blood supply to cancerous cells only, or finding a method of controlling cell division in cancerous cells.