What is Cancer?
Cancer is the name given to a number of diseases that result from defective
cell division. Cells are the microscopic building blocks of the body. Normally
the process of cell division, by which tissue grows and renews itself,
is controlled and co-ordinated in nature. The instructions on growth and
renewal are transmitted from the genes located inside the nucleus of the
It is thought that the primary cause in the development of cancer
is due to damaged genes, which means that the affected cells multiply
in an uncontrolled
manner, invading, and destroying normal tissue. Resultant tumours can
be of two types, Benign tumours that do not grow rapidly, are non-cancerous,
are covered by cells which are normal and do not spread to other parts
of the body. Malignant tumours are however cancerous, grow faster than
benign tumours and are invasive in nature which means they can travel
other parts of the body creating secondary cancers.
How many types of
cancer are there?
There are more than 200 various types of cancer that can affect
any part of the body. In most cases they have different causes,
Common cancers include, Breast, Lung, Large bowl, Prostrate, Bladder,
Stomach, Head/Neck, Oesophagus, Pancreas, Ovary, Leukaemia, Kidney
cancers. Statistics indicate that one in three people stand the chance
of developing cancer during their lifetime. Cancer can affect people
at different times in their lives, however the older you become the
the risk of cancer, hence a significant proportion of cancers in
the UK occur in the over 65 age bracket.
What are the risk factors?
The risk factors, which do not necessarily indicate that an individual
will or will not develop cancer, support the general importance
of leading a healthier lifestyle. An unhealthy, unbalanced diet
lack of exercise
are some of the common sense elements that are considered risk
factors. Other factors such as obesity, family history, protection
sun/UV light and smoking are also areas of focus. It should be
noted that over
a quarter of deaths in the UK are caused by cancer and the biggest
cancer killer is Lung cancer which is directly linked to smoking,
Large bowl cancer. So the message is clear, if you smoke, reduce
your chances of dying from cancer, by giving up today and if your
make a conscious effort to improve it! See the Food & Nutrition and
Smoking sections of MHN.