Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body via the blood or lymphatic system.
Caners can be categorized into different types depending on the origins of organ where the cancer cells started to grow and spread. Nowadays, there is still no method to kill the cancer cells completely and effectively, which makes cancer a disease resulting a high mortality rate worldwide including Thailand.
Causes of cancer
- Frequent consuming food contaminated with carcinogens, such as preserved foods or foods containing borax. For example, the aflatoxin from the moldy peanuts, the hydrocarbons from grilled foods, these toxins may increase the possibility of the cancer occurrence;
- The unprotected skin is exposed to the sun and the UV rays may carry the risk of developing skin cancer;
- Viruses transmitted through the air or other mediums. For example the Covid-19 virus is transmitted through the air, or the hepatitis B virus transmitted by using the glasses or spoon of the virus carrier;
- The carcinogenic toxins released by the parasites which enter the human body from the raw foods or uncooked foods;
- Unhealthy lifestyle hobbies, such as smoking or drinking alcohol;
- Those whose immunity system is weak caused by taking allergic food for a long time will have higher risk of cancers;
- Genetics: some cancer occurs due to the genetic reason, such as breast cancer;
- The long-term stress and pressure may cause the imbalance of hormone thus result to a weak immune system, this also may increase the risks of cancers.
Symptoms of Cancer
Generally speaking, when cancer begins, it produces no specific symptoms, while the patients will have the similar symptoms to other common diseases. Signs and symptoms of inflammation and several parts of the body as the cancer cells start to spread. Therefore, if there is any parts or organs have the inflammation for more than 1-2 weeks, or with the following symptoms, it is suggested that you should see a doctor as soon as possible:
- Persistent cough or cough with blood in the phlegm;
- Vomit, urine or stool with blood;
- Persistent, unexplained high or low fevers;
- Unexplained nose bleeding;
- Unexplained and gradually enlarged new bruising, birthmark or moles;
- Lump or area of thickening that can be felt under the skin without pain;
- Unexplained enlarged lymph nodes;
- Unexplained bad breath;
- Bladder problems such as being unable to hold urine;
- Alternative constipation with diarrhea;
- Irregular menstruation or unexplained vaginal bleeding;
- Unexplained severe headache;
- Persistent indigestion or discomfort after eating;
- Unintended weight loss by 10% within 6 months;
- Skin changes with symptoms of blood purpura or redness;
- Arms and legs weakness along with bone, back or joint pain
- It is advised to do the self observation first, if any of the symptoms above occur, please go to see the doctor as soon as possible;
- The doctor will take the blood, urine, stool, sputums for the laboratory;
- When a lump is found in the body, the doctor will take the CT scan or X-ray scan on the suspected tissue for pathological examination;
- Examination by special methods, such as direct endoscopy, colonoscopy and so on.
Cancer is typically labeled in stages from I to IV (each stage can be divided into A, B and C). When you’re diagnosed with cancer, your doctor will tell you what stage it is. That will describe the size of the cancer and how far it’s spread.
- Stage I: The lump/cancer is small and only in one area.
- Stage II: The lump/ cancer is larger and has grown into nearby tissues or lymph nodes.
- Stage III: The lump/cancer has grown in larger size and has begun to spread to other organs and lymph nodes;
- Stage IV: The lump/cancer has became very large and already spread into other tissues, organs and lymph nodes, making the lymph nodes larger. At this stage, the cancer cells has spread into the blood vessels and traveled to farther organs, such as bone marrow, lungs or livers.
This treatment is to take the surgery to remove the cancerous mass in the organ or tissue. For example, the colon surgery in the treatment of colon cancer;
2. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to locate and kill the cancer cells. For example, irradiating the chest to treat the breast cancer ;
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment where medicine or drugs are used to inhibit the cancer cells dividing. The medicine or drugs only work on the process of cell division, it can make other treatments more effective.However, there are also side effects because the drugs will also inhibit the normal cells’ division. For example, the hair follicle cells and the lining of the digestive tract cells will be killed as well. The medicine or drugs used in chemotherapy can be divided into the following groups:
- Alkylating Agents work at all stages of cell division;
- Antimetabolites work in the S phase of the cell division;
- Anti-tumors Antibiotics work at all stages of cell division;
- Topoisomerase Inhibitor work on the enzyme in genetic synthesis in cell division.
- Mitotic Inhibitors inhibit cell division in the mitosis phase, it also inhibits the enzymes and protein synthesis;
- Corticosteroids kill cancer cells by inhibiting the growth of cancerous tumors.
4. Hormone therapy
The hormone therapy is attempting to remove those hormones from the body or blocking their effects may cause the cancer cells to stop growing. Patients receiving this therapy must test their hormone receptors on cancer cells before the therapy. The test must be examined from a cancerous biospy only.
5. Combination therapy
It is a combination of the treatments mentioned above. The treatment plan will be conducted by the doctor after the diagnosis.
6. Immunotherapy treatment
Cancer can survive unchecked in the body because the immune system is weak and not effective enough to recognize and kill the cancer cells, making them spread to other organs. Immunotherapy is a biological therapy that improves the human’s immune system to fight against the cancer cells.
Types of Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy for cancer can be divided into 4 types:
1. Monoclonal Antibody
These are synthetic proteins that imitate the body’s own antibodies. For cancer treatment, these antibodies are designed to target and attack specific parts of cancer cells.
2. Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
Some cancers go unnoticed by hiding from the body’s natural defenses. Immune checkpoint inhibitors target the body’s control and signaling system which differentiates between normal and foreign cells. Thus, these types of drugs have been developed to improve the immune system’s ability to specifically target and destroy cancer cells.
3. Cancer Vaccines
This method stimulates the immune system into destroying cancer cells or even preventing cancer cells from taking hold in the first place.
4. Non-specific Immunotherapies
These are types of immunotherapies that do not specifically target cancer cells but rather stimulate the whole of the body’s immune system to be better prepared in responding efficiently to cancerous cells. For example, natural killer cells (NK Cells) injection to improve the immune system to detect and kill the cancer cells from dividing and spreading to other organs of the body.