CANCER : FEW BASIC QUERIES ANSWERED

Dr.S.M.Bose. , MS , FRCS, FAMS, FACS, FICS, FACG,

Q. 1 What is cancer and how does it spread?

Ans. Cancer is a serious disease and can affect any part of the body. It is caused by very rapid and irregular multiplication of the cells. The daughter cells are not like their mother cells.
The cancer cells have the characteristic of getting separated from the main tumour mass. The separated cell can travel to distant parts of the body either through direct extension of through the blood and lymphatic streams. These cells start multiplying over there and produce what is known as secondary deposits or metastasis.

Q2. What is the cause of cancer?

Ans. The exact cause of cancer is not known although world wise research has been going on in this direction. Cancer is caused by constant irritation by some factors and some of the known factors being:

  1. Tobacco in any form
  2. Radiation
  3. Chemical agents
  4. Hereditary
  5. Faulty diet
  6. Few chronic diseases

Q3. What are the danger signals of cancer ?

Ans. There are seven danger signals of cancer as described by WHO. These signals do not mean that the person has cancer but they only caution the person that in cast the person continues to have these inspite of normal treatment then one should visit a specialist to rule out the possibility of cancer being responsible for these.

The danger signals are :

  1. Change in bowel or bladder habits
  2. A wound that refuses to heal
  3. Unusual bleeding or discharge from any source
  4. Thickening or swelling anywhere in the body
  5. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  6. Obvious change in mole or wart
  7. Nagging cough or hoarseness of voice

Q4. How do you diagnose cancer?

Ans. Cancer can be suspected by examination by a doctor but it requires several investigations to find out the type and stage of the disease.

Biopsy can only confirm the presence of cancer and hence it must be undertaken whenever there is doubt of cancer.

Q5. How is cancer treated?

Ans. Cancer is treated by multimodality treatment schedule and this comprises of

  1. Surgery
  2. Chemotherapy
  3. Radiotherapy
  4. Hormone therapy
  5. Immunotherapy

The patient may require all the modalities of treatment or only a few of these.

Q 6 . How can a woman suspect cancer of breast in herself.

Ans. Cancer of breast can be suspected by the presence of any of the following:

  1. Swelling in the breast or in the armpit
  2. Bleeding from the nipple
  3. Ulceration or wound of the breast skin
  4. Thickening of the breast skin so that it looks like orange peel