What is Cancer?

Cancer is a disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in any part of body. These abnormal cells often spread throughout the body and have the ability to destroy normal body tissues.

These abnormal cells are termed cancer cells, tumour cells or malignant cells. These cells are often identified by the name of the tissue they originate from, for example, colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer etc.

What causes Cancer?

Cancer is caused by changes or mutations to the DNA present within cells. Due to the mutations, cells fail to function properly or stop functioning in a normal manner and become cancerous.

DNA or gene mutations can take place in two ways – genetic and after birth. A very small percentage of all cancer cases are caused due to genetic mutation. On the other hand, there are a number of factors that can cause gene mutation after birth and this accounts to a vast majority of cancer cases.

Risk factors to Cancer

While oncologists and cancer specialists worldwide know all those factors that may increase risks of cancer, the majority of cancer cases strike to people not influenced or impacted by any of those risk factors.

Some risk factors to Cancer include:

  • Cancer can be diagnosed at any stage
  • Cancer is more common in older adults or those 65 years of age or older
  • Lifestyle choices are one of factors that increase the risk of cancer
  • Smoking and drinking are leading causes of cancer
  • Obesity, excessive exposure to the sun, unsafe sex and radiation can cause cancer
  • Intertied conditions or family history can cause cancer
  • Living in an environment where harmful chemicals are present can increase the risk of cancer
  • Cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens) and hormones also include in the risk factors
  • Chronic inflammation and a lack of exercise can cause cancer

Some Cancer facts and figures from India:

  • Cancer accounts for 7% of Indian mortality…
  • 40% of cancer patients die annually in India and cancer cases are rising at the rate of 2-3% across the country annually, as per the data of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
  • While the standard death rate is 40% from all cancer cases in India, the rate can go up as high as 70% for some specific types of cancer.
  • As per the data presented in the Lok Sabha in 2014, Uttar Pradesh (UP) was reported to have the most number of cancer cases that year.
  • As per a NGT (National Green Tribunal Data) report, the number of cancer cases is rising in the Western Uttar Pradesh (west UP) due to high concentrations of harmful materials such as lead and mercury in the ground water.

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