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Cancer: what it is, how it is spread and how it is treated

The term cancer comprises a broad group of diseases. As a general rule in them the cells of a certain tissue begin to grow without control, surpassing the normal ones. Also, they do not have a programmed death so they are “immortal” cells if they are not attacked.

This alteration has its origin in a mutation or modification in the genetic material or DNA of the cells. There is still no specific cause that causes cancer but the most usual risk factors have been determined. As for example, the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and chemical substances. It also influences the physical state of the patient and their exposure to radiation and / or certain diseases.

Therefore, this pathology can affect almost any cell in our body. For example, lungs, tongue, blood, bones, etc.

We can also find differences between the different subtypes of cancer. There are differences in their evolution, reaction to treatments etc. that vary in each patient. Currently, a system has been developed to classify each cancer subtype according to the stage or stage it presents.

During the diagnosis, the medical team usually looks for tumors in the affected tissues. Tumors are prominences that form due to the excessive growth of the cells in the area. We can differentiate between two types of tumors: malignant (if they are cancerous) or benign (they are not associated with cancer).

How cancer spreads

Cancer: what it is, how it is spread and how it is treated

However, even though the cancer originates in a certain region, the cancer cells can move to other areas. Thus, the disorder spreads, getting worse. This process is called metastasis .

First , the cells of the original tumor separate from this cluster and move through nearby tissues. If it reaches the circulatory system it can affect your cells and / or travel to any other part of the body. The circulatory system includes both blood and lymph.

However, the new tumor cells do not differ from those of the original tumor. That is, there is the same type of cells in both cancer categories.

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Treatments for cancer

Cancer: what it is, how it is spread and how it is treated

So far , different types of treatments have been developed for this disease. However, they vary in the response of each subtype and the characteristics that the cancer presents to the patient.

On the other hand, the ultimate goal of treatment will be to alleviate the symptoms or signs that the individual shows. Also, certain procedures will be recommended to reduce the spread of cancer and try to destroy cancer cells. Several techniques can be used at the same time if they are compatible and beneficial for the subject. The most common are:

  • Surgery. In these surgical interventions, the altered area (tumor) and part of the nearby tissue are usually removed. As a general rule, it is carried out in patients who have a very localized cancer or with little extension (primary).
  • Radiotherapy. A controlled amount of radiation is applied to the cancer cells (localized) to try to destroy them progressively.
  • Chemotherapy The subject is prescribed certain medications that contain a large amount of substances that attack the cancer cells. Thus, as these compounds use the circular device, they can treat any type of cancer. They can be administered both orally and intravenously.
  • Biological therapy or immunotherapy . They encourage the immune system to attack altered cells, reduce the side effects of other therapies, repair normal cells, etc.
  • Targeted therapies They include a different type of medication that attacks genetic changes or modifications. For example, those that present cancerous tumors.

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Side effects of the treatments

Cancer: what it is, how it is spread and how it is treated

Also, the patient may experience a series of adverse effects during the use of these guidelines. The most common side effects are:

  • Nausea and vomiting .
  • Weakness, fatigue or fatigue.
  • Hair loss and alterations in the skin.
  • Increased risk of infection.

If there is a suspicion of cancer or the presence of any related symptom, it is recommended to go to your medical team to consult it as soon as possible.

Cancer: what it is, how it is spread and how it is treated