Cancer is a type of disease characterised by the abnormal growth of cells. Your body consists of trillions of cells that serve a diverse range of functions. These cells all follow an orderly code in their genes that govern their behaviour.
When a cell’s genetic code is altered or damaged, it can behave in an unpredictable manner, such as failing to perform its intended functions and growing abnormally. When this happens, the cell can multiply until it forms a mass called a tumour.
Tumours are generally classified as benign or malignant. When it demonstrates limited growth and does not spread to other parts of the body, it may be considered benign. Such tumours may not be considered cancerous and are generally less dangerous.
Malignant tumours occur when cancer cells spread to other parts of the body in a process called metastasis. When this happens, the cancer cells invade and destroy normal cells in your body. This can have disastrous consequences on your health, and if left untreated, can cause your quality of life to rapidly deteriorate.
There are more than 100 different types of cancer, and some cancers, such as leukaemia, do not form tumours. Each cancer is a result of a different combination of errors in the cells’ genetic code and therefore each cancer can be considered as a different disease.
Nevertheless, cancer treatment has improved by leaps and bounds especially in recent years, and many cancers can now be treated effectively. This gives hope to many patients that they may return to living normal lives after treatment.
You will stand a better chance of recovery when cancer is detected early. Therefore, do not hesitate to undergo regular cancer screening and consult a doctor if you notice any cancer symptoms.