Cancer is not a new term; being the second leading cause of death globally (over 9 million deaths) every year, the disease is widely known. However, some people do not understand what cancer really is and can be misinformed because of the many misconceptions that surround the disease.
This article aims to help you better understand cancer and the common terms used regarding the disease, its diagnosis and treatment, so that the next time you hear one of these terms, it will not sound so complex.
Finding cancer in its early stages makes it more effective to treat and that is what is offered at our partner hospitals. Once a doctor has done a physical examination, more tests may be ordered if lung cancer is suspected. Some advanced tests are:
- Cancer: This has to be first on the list. What is cancer? It is basically a group of over 100 different diseases that can start almost anywhere in the body due to the rapid and uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells that can lead to formation of tumours.
- Cells: These are basically the microscopic units that make up the human body and consist of a cytoplasm and a nucleus surrounded by a membrane.
- Tumour: A tumour is a mass formed when normal cells change and grow uncontrollably. It should be remembered that not all tumours are cancerous.
- Benign: A benign tumour is a tumour that is not cancerous; meaning it will not spread or invade the nearby cells.
- Malignant tumour: This on the other hand, is a tumour that is cancerous and therefore has the ability to spread to nearby cells and even to other organs in the body.
- Staging: Cancer staging is a way of determining which stage a cancer is in and is done by identifying the location of the cancer, and whether it has spread to surrounding tissue or other parts or organs in the body and whether it is affecting them. Staging helps in choosing the most appropriate treatment for cancer.
- Metastasis: This refers to the spread of cancer through the blood from where it began to other parts of the body like the lymph nodes, lungs, liver or other organs.
- Lymph nodes: These are small bean-shaped lumps that contain lymphocytes and white blood cells. The lymph nodes act like filters that remove germs.
- Bone marrow: Also known as stem cells, bone marrow is a soft thick spongy liquid in large bones. It helps in the formation of blood cells including red and white blood cells as well as platelets.
Terms used in Cancer Diagnosis
- Surgery: This treatment option in most cases, is used as a first treatment for cancer. It is done to remove a cancer tumour usually before other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy is undertaken.
- Chemotherapy: It involves the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells and stop their growth as well as their spread to other parts of the body.
- Immunotherapy: It is a type of chemotherapy that involves treating cancer by using medicines that boost the immune system, enabling it to fight the cancer.
- Radiotherapy: This treatment involves using high-energy beams or radioactive material to destroy cancer cells and prevent their growth and spread.
- Chemoradiation therapy: This comes from the use of a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in cancer treatment.
- Hormone therapy: This treatment works by adding, removing or blocking hormones that aid in the growth of cancer cells and by doing so, the growth of cancer cells is slowed down.
- Clinical trials: These are research studies that involve real patients and are aimed at finding better ways to manage medical conditions (in this case cancer).
- Palliative care: For some patients, especially those whose cancer is widespread and incurable, improving their quality of life is the treatment they require instead of treatment to cure the cancer.
The terms used in cancer, its diagnosis and treatment are numerous. The ones referred to in this article are just some of the common terms one should be aware of as far as cancer is concerned, given that it is a global epidemic.
Spreading the word on cancer is very important in the fight against this disease and at International Medical Treatment Ltd (IMT), apart from finding good cancer treatment for patients from all over the world, we also believe in providing medical information that is helpful – hence this article.
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