Cancer is a cluster of diseases distinguished by uncontrolled growth of cells and is caused by both internal factors (mutations, hormones) and external factors (diet, alcohol, radiation). It is one of the most important public health problems of the modern-day world and is the second most common cause of death after cardiovascular diseases. In the US alone, cancer accounts for nearly 23% of the total deaths. It is estimated that by the year 2020, 15 million new cancer cases will be identified and around 12 million of them will be losing their lives due to the disease. In India, it is estimated that around 2.25 million people are suffering from cancer (9.81% men and 9.42% women). Among the men, lip, oral cavity, lung and stomach cancers are the most common and among women, breast, lips, oral cavity and cervix cancers are the most common. Over 25% of deaths in the female population happen due to breast cancer and over 25 % of deaths in a male population happen due to cancers of the oral cavity and lung. American Society of Cancer and Oncology says that there are 120 types of cancer and associated hereditary systems. Usually, cancer starts when genetic changes obstruct the body process. Cancer can either be malignant or benign. Malignant tumors spread throughout the body and grow at a rapid rate. Benign tumors are those that grow without spreading. Based on their origin, cancers can be classified into the following types.
- Carcinoma: Carcinomas originate in the skin and tissues that protect the internal glands and organs. These are the most commonly occurring cancers. For example, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
- Sarcoma: Sarcomas originate in the tissues that connect the entire human body. These can be found in nerves, tendons, blood vessels, lymph vessels, cartilage, bone, muscles, or fat.
- Leukemia: Leukemia is blood cancer and starts when healthy cells grow unstoppably. The common types of leukemia are acute and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute and chronic myeloid leukemia.
- Lymphoma: Lymphomas originate in the lymphatic system, a chain of tissues and organs that help in removing toxins and other waste products from the body. Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are the two major types of lymphoma.
- Continuous cough and blood in saliva
- Irregular bowel habits
- Blood in the stool
- Prolonged itching in the genital and anal area
- Difficulty in swallowing, bloating, or indigestion
- Low blood count
- Lumps in breast or elsewhere
- Modifications in wart or mole
Cancer – Risk Factors and Complications:
- Use of tobacco, cigarette smoking, and alcoholism
- Food habits and obesity
- Lifestyle (sedentary)
- Perinatal factors like chronic maternal illness, chronic maternal infections, and exposure to toxins
- Family history
- Occupational exposure
- Air pollution and ultraviolet radiation
- Therapeutics and medical procedures
- Socioeconomic status (education, employment status, income levels, standard of living)
- Foods preserved with salt, contaminants, and food additives
- Insufficient Antioxidants
When it comes to cancer, various myths are circulated by friends and family. These myths lead to more stress than the actual symptoms and treatment procedures of the disease. Knowing about your diagnosis is a vital part of planning treatment procedures. Here are a few myths about cancer put-forth by the cancer treatment centers of America (CTCA).
- Taking a biopsy will spread the cancer: There’s no clear scientific proof that performing a biopsy or removing a cancer cell will lead to the spreading of the disease. However, removing a tumor and testing it will only help in planning the treatment procedures.
- Consuming sugar in your foods will lead to cancer: Despite research reports proving tumor cells absorb more sugar than normal cells, no documented proof that including sugar in your diet will exacerbate the disease. There’s no clear scientific and medical evidence to support the association consumption of sugar and cancer.
- No need of surgery in case of solid tumor: Surgery is a prerequisite with every form of cancer. Other treatment procedures are used to suppress the cancer, but in recurring cases, surgery is the most preferred one.
- Skin cancer is devoid of color: People with fair skin have a high risk of getting cancer than the rest. In addition to this, people with green or blue eyes, skin that burns easily, red or blonde hair are at an increased risk as well.
- Chemotherapy is painful and has many side effects: While the painful side effects of chemotherapy were evident when it was first introduced, advancements in medicine have decreased or eliminated a majority of these harmful events. Despite its side effects, the actual process of injection of a chemotherapeutic agent into the bloodstream or through oral route is not painful.
- Lumps in breasts are signs of breast cancer: A lump in your breast need not always be cancerous, but has to be carefully checked by your oncologist. Any changes in the breast tissue or continuous lumps should not be ignored.
- Pregnant women cannot have treatment for cancer: Carrying mothers with symptoms or fears should visit a doctor at the earliest, because the earlier the medical care, the better the outcomes of the treatment.
- Hair will not grow after chemotherapy: While the story of a chemotherapy patient revolves around the hair, there’s no need to worry about it. Nearly 99% of the hair grows back once the treatment is completed.
In general, diagnostic odyssey is the time from noticing the symptoms to receiving the correct diagnosis. In global spectra like cancer, the shorter diagnostic odyssey betters the recovery. With regards to volatile and rapidly metastasizing diseases like cancer, achieving the correct and timely diagnosis plays a very crucial role in the treatment of the disease. Proto-oncogenes like ERBB2 and BRAF cause breast cancer and melanomas, and earlier the identification, the better the prevention. Most importantly, the time taken to diagnose the tumor plays a huge role in the successful treatment of cancer. An early diagnosis not only favors the patient from the pain of treatment, but also reduces the emotional and financial burden of the immediate family.
Comprehensive profiling of cancers gives alternative methods to supplement the existing orthodox methods like radiation and chemotherapy. Any success in this method will be recognized in targeted therapy and in developing low-cost tests in molecular diagnosis that estimate the response to targeted therapy properly. Knowing your predisposition towards cancer helps you prevent the onset of disease by taking proper care and maintenance. Genetic tests like Genomepatri test for nearly 15-20 types of cancer and assess the genetic risks associated with each type of cancer. This once-in-a-lifetime test will not only test for cancer but also for multiple health conditions like diabetes, obesity, cholesterol, etc.
Treatment for cancer can be done in many ways depending on the type of cancer and the rate of its advancement. Some individuals will have only one line of treatment and for others, it will be a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Listed below are the possible methods of treating a tumor.
- Surgery: Surgery is used to remove the cancer cells by the manipulation of instruments. Surgeries that do not use any instruments while treating cancer include cryosurgery, lasers, hyperthermia, and photodynamic therapy.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses heavy doses of ionizing radiation to diminish the tumors and to kill cancer cells. It is of two types — external beam radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs for treating cancer. The drugs are administered in the following routes: oral, intravenous (IV), intrathecal, injection, intraperitoneal (IP), intra-arterial (IA), and topical.
- Targeted Therapy: Through targeted therapy, certain changes in the cancer cells like growth and division are targeted. Targeted therapy has the following benefits: helps the immune system kill cancer cells, prevent the growth of cancer cells, produce cell-killing materials to cancer cells, leading to cancer cell death, and prevent signals that get assistance from blood vessels.
- Stem Cell Therapy: Through this procedure, blood-forming stem cells are restored in the individuals who had incurred a loss due to heavy doses of chemotherapy and radiation. The transplants are of the following types: autologous, allogeneic, and syngeneic.
- Precision Medicine: Through precision medicine, physicians can select treatments that are most suitable to assist patients, on the understanding of their genetic profile in relation to the disease.
Our proprietary test, MedicaMap is a cutting-edge pharmacogenomic test that analyses an individual’s drug-response profile, based on genetic makeup. It has more than 99% of data accuracy and carefully selected genetic markers for various drugs including FDA recommended drug compounds. Our report will help you understand how your body activates drugs, breaks them down, and prevents toxic buildup. This personalized report will give an idea to your doctor about the medications that will work for and against you. With this test, a physician can prescribe suitable treatment options and dosage that works for the patient. This, we say, is a doorway to personalized medicine and many a prosperous therapy.
How Can Mapmygenome Help you:
At Mapmygenome, our focus is mainly on predictive risk assessment, maintaining a proper diet, adapting to a healthier lifestyle. A comprehensive wellness assessment like Genomepatri will give an insight into the weaknesses of your immunity, genetic predisposition to specific health conditions, drug efficiency and helps in pre-empting most of these risks. Genetic counseling is therefore recommended to obtain authenticated reviewing and testing/screening options, diet/lifestyle interventions and educational and emotional support.
Tapping into your genes will assist you to know the real ‘YOU’. Genomepatri helps you find the best-suited route for yourself, and reiterates the importance of not following the crowd but forging a unique way of leading quality life. It is personalized, predictive, participatory, preventive, and POWERFUL!!!
- Ahmed, Atif A, and Malak Abedalthagafi. “Cancer diagnostics: The journey from histomorphology to molecular profiling.” Oncotarget vol. 7,36 (2016): 58696-58708. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.11061
- Cancer Treatment Centers of America. (2019). 11 myths about cancer, debunked. [online] Available at: https://www.cancercenter.com/community/blog/2019/02/11-cancer-myths-busted [Accessed 27 Aug. 2019].
- National Cancer Institute. (2019). Types of Cancer Treatment. [online] Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types [Accessed 27 Aug. 2019].