Dr Deepak Varma Gastro Surgeon Cochin

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Cancer can start anywhere in the body and spread to surrounding tissues. The cells begin to multiply uncontrollably and divide without any limitations. There is a breakdown of the orderly process within the body and as the malignancy spreads the old and damaged cells that have to die ideally, start to survive. Some of these cells eventually turn into tumours. Tumours, when formed as masses of tissues, are solid and another kind of cancer is blood cancer that is not solid. Cancerous tumours invade nearby tissues and as they grow separate themselves and travel to another part of the body through the lymphatic system/ blood stream and form more tumours. Where benign tumours are not perilous, benign tumours of the brain are life-threatening.

Causes And Risk Factors

Cancer, often results from changes in the genetic structure of the cells, which is called mutation. Changes are caused by genes steering the cells out of their normal course of functioning affecting the way they divide and grow. Certain Cancers can be inherited through parentage and also an erroneous division of cells due to DNA damage due to environmental alternations. Each person s cancer development is unique and is a result of a combination of genetic modifications and environmental factors. Some of the known causes of cancer are:

  • Genetics they run in families though they may not clearly be linked to parentage; family cancer syndromes where it is common for a few members to have cancer; certain types of cancer run in families; cancers occur due to abnormalities of the genes in a cell

  • Tobacco use the smoke in tobacco is made up of approximately 7,000 different chemicals, which are known carcinogens responsible for the cause of cancer such as nicotine, benzene, cyanide, methanol, acetylene, ammonia, etc.

  • Obesity besides heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, obesity is also known to predispose certain types of cancers

  • Alcoholism alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the liver and pancreas. It is also known to cause cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus.

Categories of cancer

There are over a 100 different types of cancer but they are grouped and categorized into:

  • Carcinoma cancer of the skin or tissues that internal lining of the internal organs

  • Sarcoma cancer of the bone, fat, cartilage, blood vessels or muscles, which are connective tissues

  • Lymphoma myeloma and lymphoma begin in the cells of the immune system

  • Leukaemia blood cancer forming in the blood forming tissues

  • Spinal and brain cancer of the central nervous system

We stage cancer to see the extent of the spread and grades the disease to know the scope of their abnormality. We have immense experience in the treatment of various gastrointestinal cancers.

Authored by Dr. Deepak Varma, MBBS, MS (General Surgery)

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