13 FAQs about Tumours
There are a lot of rumours and myths about cancer that make it hard for people to realise what’s true about this disease.
These are some of the frequently asked questions related to cancer:
1. Is there a difference between tumors and cancers?
In both, the cells of our body begin to divide without stop. The main difference between cancers and tumors is that in the first case, this can occur anywhere in the body, while in the second, it occurs in bones, muscles and organs such as the brain or lungs.
2. Who can get cancer?
Everyone is prone to this deadly disease, although the risk goes up by age.
Factors such as whether a person smokes, lifestyle choices such as what they eat and how much they exercise, family history of cancer etc determine the level of risk.
3. How does cancer begin?
Our body consists of a variety of cells. In normal conditions, cells grow, divide, become old, die, and are then replaced by new cells.
But sometimes cells mutate, grow out of control, and form a mass, or tumour, instead of dying.
4. What does the tumour do?
Cancerous tumours attack and kill the tissues in the body. They also spread to other parts of the body, causing new tumours to form. This process is known as metastasis and it shows that cancer has advanced to a late stage.
Caption: Woman with a large facial tumour.
Alt tags: Facial tumour
5. Is cancer genetic?
Yes, cancer is a genetic disease. Cancer is caused due to changes made in genes that control the way our cells function, causing them to behave irregularly.
If someone has a known family history of hereditary cancer, genetic testing is often recommended.
6. Is cancer contagious?
Unlike the common cold and flu, cancer is not contagious. You cannot catch cancer from someone who has the disease.
7. Is there a vaccine for cancer?
There is no vaccine for cancer. But there exist vaccines for some viruses that are known to cause cancer, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B.
HPV can cause cancer and getting vaccinated against it can help protect against various types of cancer.
8. Can stress cause cancer?
No scientific evidence has shown that a person’s personality or work and family pressure can make them prone to getting cancer.
Stress does affect the immune system, but there are other factors too. No connection has been found between psychological stress and cancer.
9. Does sugar feed cancer?
Sugar intake has not been shown to directly increase the risk of getting cancer, having cancer spread, or having it progress.
Sugars and sweetened drinks add a lot of calories to the diet and cause weight gain, which is linked to causing cancer.
10. Can cancer be cured?
Yes. When the cancer treatment begins to work, the doctor would say the cancer is in remission.
A partial remission is when the cancer begins to shrink but doesn’t totally disappear. A complete remission would be when there is no longer any sign of cancer.
11. What are the stages of cancer, and what do they mean?
Cancer typically has four stages 1 through 4. Some cancers even have a stage zero.
Stage 0 means the cancer is still found in the place it started and hasn’t spread to nearby tissues. Stage 0 cancers are mostly curable.
12. Does cancer have symptoms?
Caption: Parotid tumour, a salivary gland tumour in a patient
Credits: Commons wikimedia
Alt tags: Symptom of a tumour
The signs and symptoms of cancer depend on where the cancer is located and how big it can be.
As the cancer develops, it starts pushing on the surrounding organs. The pressure caused by this can show signs and symptoms.
13. How do cancer drugs work?
Chemotherapy is used to destroy cancer cells. But chemotherapy drugs can sometimes harm healthy cells, leading to various side effects.
In recent times, targeted drugs block genes or proteins found in the cancer cells.
14. When should I get tested for cancer?
Depending upon an individual’s age and daily habits can help a person decide what kind of screening test he must take.
It’s good to have a conversation with a doctor about what type of test you might need and when.