"I am a survivor but to get here has taken a lot of effort, sometimes I felt just let it be, its too
much, I can’t bear it, Why me? And then there are the times when you look out of the
window and you see a new sunshine which gives you so much to hope for and you cling to
this hope and mould it to a new living day. So how did I get here by asking, by
reading, by learning and by leaning"

What is Cancer?

Cancer is characterised by uncontrolled proliferation of abnormal cells. Sometimes due to some faulty mechanism or due to factors which are unknown yet, the divided cells are abnormal i.e., their structure is not the same as that of its parent cells. They cannot discharge the functions like the normal cells but requires the same food as the normal cells. These cells start dividing and a large number of abnormal cells are produced. These cells cluster to form lumps, swellings, and sometimes produce ulcers in the respective organs.

The most important feature of cancer is that the cancer cells can breakaway from the tissue or organ of origin and starts spreading to other parts of the body. This is known as the metastasis.

Because of this unique characteristic it becomes difficult to cure or to control cancer when it has spread.

How does Cancer start?

The exact mechanism of transformation of normal cells to become cancerous is still not known. However, several factors are known to produce cancer-like tobacco in the form of smoking and chewing, alchohol, radiation, asbestos, certain chemicals, excessive fat consumption, viruses etc.

In our country, almost 50% of all cancer in men are caused by heavy tobacco chewing and smoking; rather it is worse. The bidi contains more toxic harmful chemicals than in cigarette which produces cancer.

Passive smoking also predisposes to a high risk for developing cancer of various organs.

Does a lump always mean Cancer?

No. Every lump that appears on the body is not always cancerous. Some of these lumps may grow to large sizes and produce ulcers. However, it will not cause death and they can easily be removed by surgery and usually will not recur.

It doesn’t spread to other parts of the body. Such tumours are known as Benign tumours ie. Harmless tumours.

What are the most common Cancers seen in Indians?

In our men, the majority of all cancers are found in mouth and throat, lung, stomach and in women, they are found in large numbers in uterus [cervix], breast, mouth and throat.

Is Cancer increasing in our country?

Yes, it is true that the incidence of cancer is rapidly rising in our country. As more people live upto old ages and with control of other diseases, more people would get cancer. Further, change to a Western life style and environmental pollution due to industrialisation etc. are also likely to contribute to an increase in cancer.

According to available Indian statistics, around 80- 90 new cancer cases will develop per 100, 000 population. This may appear to be a low rate as compared to the West but due to our huge size of population, this will amount to a big number of patients.. Based on these statistics, it is estimated that almost 1 million persons will develop cancer every year in the country and in any given year there will be almost 2-3 million cancer patients. As the population increases, this number also will increase.

Is Cancer Hereditary?

Certain cancers are seen to occur in families. This does not mean that the disease has been transmitted from parent to children through genetic material. The same life style usually run in families and this could as well be the reason. Scientists believe that if there is a hereditary component, its effect is indeed very little.

Is Cancer Contagious?

NO

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