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INTRODUCTION TO CANCER

What is cancer??

Cancer is a disease that occurs due to uncontrolled division of cells that may invade into adjacent tissues causing damage. There are few cancers in which the cells are dividing but restricted to one part itself without spreading, such cancers are benign that are considered to be less deadly commonly known as tumors. The other kind of cancers in which the cells are dividing and spreading to other parts of the body, are malignant that can be life-threatening.

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How does cancer occur??

In normal conditions, the cells follow instructions of programmed cell death. The cell cycle is programmed to divide, grow, and die which are then replaced with another new cell. Sometimes, cells escape these check points in cell cycle due to many triggering factors that cause changes in the cell at the DNA level. The tumor suppressor genes (P-53) looses it ability to stop division of cells that ultimately invade adjacent parts; or spread to far away parts through blood or lymph by a process of metastasis.

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Why cancer is a concern??

Cancer is not just a disease. Though early stages of cancer are asymptomatic, the enlarged tumor may show signs and symptoms that vary from cancer to cancer resulting in many systemic complications such as:

  • The tumor becomes enlarged and may compress the vital structures such as organs, arteries, or nerves that may lead to pain, blocking of artery, perforation of blood vessels, bleeding or paralysis.
  • The hunger for nutrients by continuously dividing cancer cells causes excess of glucose uptake and conversion to lactic acid through a process of aerobic glycolysis called as Warburg effect. This acidic environment in the body makes the patient fatigue and weak.
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Types of cancers:

Cancer can occur in any individual and in any part of the body. According to worldwide statistics, men are more prone to lung cancer followed by stomach and then liver, whereas, women are more prone to breast cancer followed by lung and then stomach cancer.

An estimate of number of new cases that can be diagnosed with cancer and the number of deaths are mentioned as below from the predictions of American Cancer Society,

Cancer type Estimated new cases Estimated deaths
Breast (Female-Male) 246,660 – 2,600 40,450 – 440
Lung (including Bronchus) 224,390 158,080
Pancreatic 180,890 41,780
Colon and Rectal (Combined) 134,490 49,190
Melanoma 76,380 10,130
Bladder 76,960 16,390
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 72,580 20,150
Thyroid 64,300 1,980
Prostate   26,120
Kidney (Renal Cell and Renal Pelvis) Cancer 62,700 14,240
Endometrial 60,050 10,470
Leukemia (All Types) 60,140 24,400

Alternative therapies for different types of cancers

  1. Acupuncture – uses very thin needles which are put into the body. E.g.: Acubands - bracelets that cause pressure on wrist.

    People with cancer mainly choose acupuncture to help relieve nausea, dry mouth, tiredness, breathlessness, and hot flushes caused by chemotherapy or other cancer drugs.

  2. Aromatherapy - involves massaging with essential oils

    It helps to relieve side effects of cancer treatment including pain, tiredness, anxiety, depression, and stress.

  3. Art therapy - uses creative activities

    Art therapists can help cancer patients to cope up with grief or fear, anxiety and depression. It helps them express their deep emotions, build self confidence and achieve a sense of freedom.

  4. Essences - liquids filled in dropper bottles to drip them on tongue or drink by diluting with water.

    Cancer patients can feel better emotionally, mentally or spiritually by consuming these liquids.

  5. Chiropractic care - includes wide range of treatments like self-care advice, manual therapy to cause joint and muscle movement, and prescribed exercises.

    One main reason behind cancer patients seeking chiropractors is to help control back pain, headache and tension.

  6. Massage therapy - involves rubbing of the body’s muscles and soft tissue.

    Massaging can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain associated with chemotherapy.

  7. Exercise and yoga

    Gentle exercises can help relieve fatigue, stress and improves sleep. It also can help the patients to have an improved quality of life and increase their lifetime.

  8. Hypnosis - a deep state of concentration caused by the therapist by talking in a gentle voice.

    Hypnosis is helpful for patients who experience pain, anxiety and stress. It may also prevent nausea and vomiting that can occur with chemotherapy.

  9. Music therapy - involves listening/playing/writing music, singing etc.

    Music therapy may help relieve pain, control sickness and vomiting.

  10. Herbal remedies:
    • Scutellaria barbata is effective against several types of cancers including stomach, lung, and intestinal cancers.
    • Turmeric contains curcumin as a main ingredient with potent anticancer activity. It causes both shrinkage of cancer tumours and inhibition of blood supply to the tumours. It is effective against colorectal cancers.
    • Polysaccharide Kureha (PSK) is a mushroom-derived compound extracted from Coriolus versicolor which can improve survival of cancer patients who underwent both gastrectomy and esophagectomy. PSK is less effective in patients with breast cancer and leukemia.
    • Astragali (Huang Qi), when used together with radiotherapy can double survival times.
    • Podophyllum peltanum has a strong anticancer activity, especially Ovarian cancer.
    • Sanguinaria canadensis has a consistent anti-neoplastic activity. It is one of the ingredients of the anti-cancer poultice called Black Salve useful for management of sarcomas.
    • Larrea mexicana can prevent metastases and shrink the tumours. It is one of the ingredients of Black Salve and is effective against breast cancers.
    • Ruscus aculeatus has ruscogenins as the active ingredient with has tumour-shrinking ability. Thus it is use in the treatment of breast cancer.
    • Red clover is a potent herb containing genistein an ingredient against oestrogen-driven cancers, like breast and prostate cancers.
    • Uncaria tormentosa can shrink tumors, particularly of skin cancers. Also the side-effects of chemotherpay and radiotherapy can be reduced with this herbal treatment.
    • Codonopsis pilosula increases both red blood cell and white blood cell levels, and is extremely helpful during chemo and radiotherapy.
    • Pau d´arco has quinoids with immune strengthening ability helpful in blood and lymph cancer treatments.
    • Echinacea is helpful for brain tumours.
    • Feverfew is found to be highly effective over cytarabine agaisnt leukaemia.
    • Milk thistle protects the liver of patients on chemotherapy for leukaemia. However, there is also a slight evidence of anti-cancer activity.
    • Goldenseal is an anti-microbial agent used for treating stomach cancers caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.
    • Cancer bush inhibits Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF), which causes wasting in cancer patients.
    • Bulpleurum scorzoneraefolium stimulates the production of natural interferons and is especially useful in bone cancer.
    • Wormwood prevents the formation of excessive yeasts during the leukaemia treatment. Additionally, wormwood has direct anti-cancer properties.
    • Aloevera can help reduce skin reactions during radiotherapy for cancer. Also, it can prevent mouth soreness during cancer therapy.

Cancer Awerness

Cervical cancer in india

Yuvraj Singh

Manisha Koirala

Self Examination of breast cancer

Breast and Cervical cancer

Lung cancer

Prevention Tips

CANCER FACTS - INDIA VS WORLDWIDE

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FIG a) Comparison of cancer incidence worldwide and India

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FIG b) Comparison of cancer deaths worldwide and India (in millions)

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FIG c) Most Prevalent Cancers across the globe

  • Across the globe more than 20,000 cancer death occurs every day.
  • The 5 most deadly and prevalent types of cancer in males worldwide are: Lung, stomach, liver, colorectal and oesophagus.
  • The 5 most deadly and prevalent types of cancer in females worldwide are: Breast, lung, stomach, colorectal and cervical.
  • The fatal cancer is more prevalent in the age of 65 or above, across the globe.
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FIG d) Most prevalent cancers in India

  • More than 1300 cancer death occurs every day in India.
  • Oral Cancer is the most common and fatal type of cancer in Indian male.
  • Breast cancer is the most common and fatal type of cancer in Indian female.
  • In India, more than 70% deadly cancer is prevalent in the age group of 30-69 years.

GENERAL CANCER FACTS:

  • There are more than 100 types of cancer; any part of the body can be affected. – WHO
  • Tobacco usage is the leading preventable cause of cancer that counts for overall 22% of cancer deaths
  • The most prevalent cancers like breast, cervical and colorectal cancer are curable if diagnosed at the early stage
  • More than 30% of cancer can be avoided by maintaining healthy life style and by staying away from tobacco and alcohol
  • Worldwide more than 28 million cancer survivors are there
  • Daily brisk walk cancer can cut down the chances of cancer by 25%
  • A cigarette contains more than 4800 chemicals out of which 69 are proven cancer causing agents
  • Type 2 diabetes increases the chances of breast and colon cancer by 20%
  • According to researchers more 25% of cancer is preventable, which counts for 3.4 millions cancer deaths can be avoided per year
  • Only 5-10% of cancer is caused due to sole hereditary reasons
  • Left side of the body is 5-10 times more prone to cancer like – Melanoma and breast cancer
  • Obesity increases the risk of cancer and reduces the chances of cancer survival
  • Some of the microorganisms responsible cancer are: Helicobacter pylori- Gastric cancer, Human Papiloma virus- Cervical cancer and Hepatitis B and C virus- Liver cancer
  • The numbers of deaths caused by cancers is higher than AIDS and tuberculosis
  • Indoor Tanning has high risk of causing melanoma