This year alone, approximately 1 million people will die from cancer. It is one of the leading causes of death in the world, second only to heart disease. According to the American Cancer Society (2012) states that 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will get cancer. In a world as medically advanced as ours, one would think that we would already have the upper hand where this disease is concerned, and have a cure– but we don’t. According to “What is Cancer? ” website n. d. “defined Cancer as not just one disease but many diseases in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and form tumors”.
These tumors can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Crosta, P. (2006r, October 4) explains that once this happens the tumors have the ability to invade other issues and organs. When the abnormal cells form tumors and start traveling from one part of the body to another, it is referred to as metastasis. Additional symptoms may appear and will depend on the area of the body where the cancer has spread. For example, if the cancer spread to the liver, the liver may become enlarged and jaundice may set in.
Also the bones can become painful, brittle and break easily. Human cancer is as old as the human race with the oldest known documented case found in an ancient Egyptian papyri and occurred during 3000 BC to 1500 BC.. This report details 8 cases of tumors or ulcers of the breast that had to be removed by cauterization (which is a method for destroying something with a hot instrument called a ‘fire drill. ) Unfortunately, there wasn’t much that could be done, only pallative treatment (relieving of symptoms of a disease without effecting a cure).
It wasn’t until 1932 when Louis Leakey found the oldest possible malignant tumor in fossilized bones recovered in Egypt, and had features suggestive of Burkittts Lymphoma. (History of Cancer, n. d. ). The Medicine World website explains that Hippocrates (460 BC –370 BC) who was one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine. He was referred to as the Father of Western Medicine, and was the first to notice the differences between malignant and benign tumors.
He noted that the blood vessels around a malignant tumor looked like crab claws, so he named them “karkinos (which is the Greek word for crab. ) He used it to describe tumors that can progress in to ulceration. Hippocrates also believed the body was composed of 4 fluids; phlegm, blood, yellow bile and black bile, and black bile is what he believed to have caused cancer. This theory rang true for another until the 16th Century. Cancer was considered to be incurable, except for a menagarie of temporary fixes that included creams, ointments and pastes made from things like barley and pigs ear. (History of Cancer, n. d. )
During the 17th Century, the lymphatic system was discovered, and from this we were sure to gain extreme knowledge of the lymphatic system and how it works, and if there are any abnormalities. In the 18th Century, physician Jean Astruc and Chemist Bernard who led the research that would either confirm or disprove theories related to the origins of cancer. John Hunter, a Scottish surgeon suggested that some cancers might be cured by surgery. In addition, he discussed various methods of checking to see if the tumors were moveable.
One way was by checking to see if the tumor had invaded nearby tissues, if not then there was no harm in removing it. (History of Cancer, n. d. ) It was the 20th Century that brought the most progression in relation to cancer research; mainly because of the invention of better microscopes. Which were used in order for scientists to gain more knowledge about the cancer process. Not until the microscope was one able to see the noticeable difference between cancer cells and the surrounding normal cells. Fayed, (July 8, 2009) a journalist for the Medical Review Board states “each individual type of Cancer has its own set of symptoms.
These symptoms are based on original location and stage of cancer. In addition, to a more generalized set of symptoms, e. g. upset stomach, diarrhea, fever, headache and pain. ” To be more specific if it were Colon Caner that you have, in addition to the regular symptoms like fever, pain, and nausea you may experience a sudden change in your bowel movements, or the presence of blood in the stool. There are various risk factors that contribute to the chances of getting cancer. Risk factors can be classified into two categories, modifiable and non-modifiable.
Modifiable risk factors are things that can be altered and non-modifiable risk factors are those that can’t. Some of the modifiable risk factors are diet, body weight, how much exercise a person participates in, and the lifestyle choices they make, those are smoking, drinking and drugs. Non-modifiable risk factors are things like a person’s sex, age, or ethnicity. In addition to these risk factors, there are several viruses that have been linked to cancer, human papillomavirus a direct cause of cervical cancer), Hepatitis B and C ( which is a cause of liver cancer).
As well as Epstein-Barr virus (which has been linked some childhood cancers) and Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and anything else that may suppress the immune system. With no specific cause for cancer, this disease does not discriminate, it will attack men, women, young, old, black and white. The American Cancer Society (2010) published that there are approximately 200 types of Cancer. The number one Cancer Killer in men and women is Lung Cancer, second in men is Prostate Cancer and second in women is Cervical Cancer.
According to the Health Disparities in Cancer (December 6, 2012), “The Center for Disease Control’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control monitor these numbers annually, and statistics show that approximately 225,000 new cases of lung cancer, 100,000 cases of prostate cancer and 300,000 new cases of cervical cancer are reported every year. Treatment options for cancer depend on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer (how much it has spread), the person’s age, status of the person’s health, and additional personal characteristics.
Unfortunately there is no single treatment for this disease and patients usually receive a combination of therapies and pallative care. Usually the treatment options fall under the categories of: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, or gene therapy. The oldest known treatment is surgery. If the cancer has not metastasized, then there is possibility that surgery can completely cure a patient by removal of the cancer. After the disease has spread then it impossible to operate.
Radiation is also referred to as Radio Therapy and destroys the cancer cells by high energy rays., causing them to die. Next we are on to chemo-therapy which utilizes chemicals that interfere with the cell division process. Treatments target any rapidly dividing cells not necessarily just cancer ones. This option is usually available to treat cancers that have metastasized because the medicine travels through out the body. With this option does come additional side effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and fatigue just to name a few. Immunotherapy targets the immune system of the patient to fight off the tumor. Local immunotherapy injects a treatment into an affected area.
For example, to cause inflammation which in turn causes the tumor to shrink. The next type of immunotherapy is systematic immunothereapy and the treats the entire body by administering an agent in to the body that will shrink tumors. One example of this is Interferon. This type of treatment isn’t very old, therefore does not show a lot of statistics but researchers have had success with this option. Breast and Prostate cancers both have been linked to some types of hormones, so hormone therapy is designed to alter hormone production in the body so the cancer cells stop growing or are killed completely.
Finally we talk about gene therapy and the role it plays in the treatment of cancer. Its goal is to replace damaged genes with ones that work to address the root cause of cancer. For example, researchers are trying to replace the damaged gene that signals cells to stop dividing with a copy of a working gene. This type of therapy is brand new and has not yet yielded any successful treatments. (Duncan 2012. ) The National Institute for Health mentions another option, it is referred to as CAM, which stands for Complementary Alternative Medicine.
CAM is defined as a group of diverse medical and healthy care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine refers to the use of CAM together with conventional medicine. For instance, regular physician monitored treatment along with acupuncture to lessen pain. CAM is not a practice that all physicians believe in. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which conducted a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, showed that approximately 38% of adults use CAM.
Complementary Alternative Medicine is grouped into broad categories such as natural products, mind and body medicine, and manipulative and body-based practices. (CDC, 2012) These include herbal medicines, (known as botanicals) vitamins, minerals and other natural products. Many are sold over the counter (OTC). In addition, “Probiotic’s” which are live micro-organisms, usually bacteria. ) They are similar to the microorganisms found in the human digestive tract and may have beneficial effects. “Probiotic’s” are available in food (e. g. yogurts) or as a dietary supplement.
Mind and body medicine incorporates practices like meditation, yoga, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, progressive relaxation, and qi gong (a Chinese meditative exercise. ) Next there are always on-going clinical trials for cancer. These are beneficial in testing new forms of treatment. One on-going clinical trial is THC Therapy. This form of CAM is becoming increasingly more popular. Unfortunately there are still more against the use of medicinal marijuana as a possible cure for Cancer. Regardless of what additional form of therapy you choose to engage in you should always with your physician first.
While doing this cancer research I found proof that back in 1974 the U. S. Government conducted a study in which lab rats who had cancerous tumors were injected with THC and others were injected with a placebo. The results showed those injected with the placebo all died from their cancerous tumors and the ones given the THC treatments had their tumors disappear completely or substantially shrink after a few treatments. Shortly after this study the U. S. Government patent’s the rights to medical marijuana. Maybe closer to a cure than we are aware of.
With all that we have learned about cancer thus far and everything we know we will learn, we can rest assured that the possibility for a cure is there. Yet unfortunately until then we will endure an increase in cancer immortality statistics. We live in a world that is so scientifically advanced how could we not find a cure for Cancer—The Silent Killer.
- American Cancer Society. (2012). Cancer facts and figures. Retrieved from http://www. cancer. org/research/cancerfactsfigures/cancerfactsfigures/cancer-facts-figures-2012
- National Cancer Institute of Health. 92012). What you need to know about cancer.