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Frequently asked questions about Cancer

March 30, 2022

1. What is cancer?

Cancer is a condition in which the cells of the human body grow out of control autonomously. Cells are the tiny building blocks that make the body. Cells usually grow when your body needs them, and die when it doesn’t need them any longer but in a disease like cancer, the cells continue to multiply even though the body doesn’t need them. These abnormal cells grow rapidly and start taking the form of a lump or mass usually referred to as a tumor.

2. What are the stages of cancer?

The majority of cancers involve tumors that grow over time and are categorized into 5 different stages.

Stage 0 – It indicates that there is no cancer but the body has abnormal cells with the potential to become cancerous. This is also called carcinoma in situ.
Stage I – It indicates that a cancerous tumor is very small and has been confined to one area of the body. It is also known as early-stage cancer.
Stage II & III – Both stages indicate that the cancerous tumor is growing larger and has started growing or already grown into the nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
Stage IV – It indicates that cancerous tumor/cancerous cells have spread to the other parts of the body. It is commonly known as advanced or metastatic cancer.

3. What are the causes of cancer?

Several factors contribute to the cause of cancer but there are two major types: First is the tendency to develop cancer or genetic history and other is the excessive exposure to the triggers like cigarettes, environmental pollutants or toxins, harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, or procedures like artificial tanning. Also, for many cancers, sometimes no reason can be identified, and it can merely due to age related genetic changes

4. Does cancer show symptoms?

Symptoms of cancer depend on where it has occurred and how much it has spread. As it grows, it can also affect the nearby cells/organs and as a result, the body starts showing symptoms.

But sometimes cancer occurs in such places where it doesn’t show or indicate any signs or symptoms.

Some general signs and symptoms of cancer are:

  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Lump growing anywhere in body
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in skin

Sometimes the reason for these symptoms could be other than cancer. So, if you experience any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a doctor first before coming to any conclusion.

5. Is cancer a genetic disease?

Yes, cancer could pass on to generations. It is because generally cancer is caused by mutations or changes in genes and genes control the way our cell functions. The mutations lead the cells to behave and divide irregularly. These changes in genes or mutations can be inherited or occur over a long period of time due to excessive exposure to mutation causing factors like chemicals, toxic gases, etc.

6. Is cancer a contagious disease?

Cancer is not a contagious disease and it cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Cancerous cells from someone with cancer can’t survive in the body of another healthy person.

7. Are chemical pollutants causing cancer?

Yes, chemical pollutants are able to cause cancer but in a small portion of special cases only. Long exposure to chemical pollutants can cause mutations in the genes which may lead to cancer sometimes but nowadays the majority of potential cancer-causing pollutants are identified and are being regulated.

8. Does smoking cigarettes really cause cancer?

Yes, smoking cigarettes and consumption of tobacco are the major risk factors for lung cancer and cancers of the bladder, pancreas, larynx, mouth, esophagus, and kidney.

9. Can cancer be cured?

Yes, cancer can be cured but it requires immediate diagnosis and treatment and it also depends on the stage of the disease. Cancer is a very volatile disease, it can spread to other areas of the body, so early detection and treatment could be the only possible way for it to be cured.

10. Is there any vaccine available for cancer?

There is no vaccine available for cancer as of now but there are vaccines available for some viruses that are known to cause cancer such as Hepatitis B and Human papillomavirus (HPV). Getting vaccinated against these viruses protects against the cancers that are known to be caused by them. HPV is known to cause all types of cervical cancer and some oropharynx cancer whereas Hepatitis B is linked to liver cancer.

But one thing is to keep in mind that vaccines may reduce your risk of getting cancer but it doesn’t protect against cancer itself, it will only protect you against the virus.

11. When should one get tested for cancer?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of cancer, it is better to get screened immediately. Consult your doctor and seek advice on what type of test you might need.

At Apollo Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad, we have a specialised team for treating cancers. If the problem persists, consult with our experts now.

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