Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Not all tumors are cancerous; benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.
Let’s see some facts about them.
1. Cancers are a large family of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. They form a subset of neoplasms.
2. A neoplasm or tumor is a group of cells that have undergone unregulated growth and will often form a mass or lump, but may be distributed diffusely.
3. All tumor cells show the six hallmarks of cancer. These characteristics are required to produce a malignant tumor. They include:
Cell growth and division absent the proper signals
Continuous growth and division even given contrary signals
Avoidance of programmed cell death
Limitless number of cell divisions
Promoting blood vessel construction
Invasion of tissue and formation of metastases
The progression from normal cells to cells that can form a detectable mass to outright cancer involves multiple steps known as malignant progression.
4. When cancer begins, it produces no symptoms. Signs and symptoms appear as the mass grows or ulcerates. The findings that result depend on the cancer’s type and location. Few symptoms are specific.
5. Many frequently occur in individuals who have other conditions. Cancer is a “great imitator”. Thus, it is common for people diagnosed with cancer to have been treated for other diseases, which were hypothesized to be causing their symptoms.
6. People may become anxious or depressed post-diagnosis. The risk of suicide in people with cancer is approximately double.
7. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world causing 22% of cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013 174,100 cancer deaths will be caused by tobacco use. Encourage your loved ones to quit smoking.
8. Many cancers can be prevented by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking too much alcohol, eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, vaccination against certain infectious diseases, not eating too much processed and red meat, and avoiding too much sunlight exposure.
9. Early detection through screening is useful for cervical and colorectal cancer. The benefits of screening in breast cancer are controversial.
10. Cancer is often treated with some combination of radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
11. Pain and symptom management are an important part of care. Palliative care is particularly important in people with advanced disease.
12. The chance of survival depends on the type of cancer and extent of disease at the start of treatment.
13. In children under 15 at diagnosis the five-year survival rate in the developed world is on average 80%. For cancer in the United States the average five-year survival rate is 66%.
14. In 2012 about 14.1 million new cases of cancer occurred globally (not including skin cancer other than melanoma).
15. It caused about 8.2 million deaths or 14.6% of human deaths.
16. The most common types of cancer in males are lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. In females, the most common types are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and cervical cancer.
17. If skin cancer other than melanoma were included in total new cancers each year it would account for around 40% of cases.
18. In children, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and brain tumors are most common except in Africa where non-Hodgkin lymphoma occurs more often.
19. In 2012, about 165,000 children under 15 years of age were diagnosed with cancer. The risk of cancer increases significantly with age and many cancers occur more commonly in developed countries.
20. Rates are increasing as more people live to an old age and as lifestyle changes occur in the developing world. The financial costs of cancer were estimated at $1.16 trillion US dollars per year as of 2010.
21. Over 20,000 people die of Cancer every day.
22. Cancer causes more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.
23. There are more than 100 types of cancers; any part of the body can be affected.
24. 50% is the lifetime risk of developing Cancer for a man in the U.S.
25. World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
26. Over 2 million skin cancers are diagnosed every year – many of those could be prevented by taking necessary precautions. (i.e. protecting skin from excessive sun exposure and avoiding indoor tanning.)
27. Men who have never married are up to 35% more likely to die from cancer than those who are married. In terms of surviving cancer, women also benefited from being married, but to a lesser extent.
28. Approximately 77% of all cancers are diagnosed in people who are 55 years old or older.
29. The most common types of cancer differ, but the cancer burden seems at least as high in pets as in humans.
30. There are 28 million cancer survivors worldwide.