Difference between revisions of "Cancer"

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Some types of cancers and other malignancies are at least equally the province of other specialists, because of the part of the body they affect, or because the treatments they require, are the focus of those particular specialties. So, for example, [[Radiation Oncology|radiation oncologists]], who are trained in the use of external beam radiation and other kinds of radiation treatments, and surgeons who are specialists in the areas of the body that the cancer affects, like the breast or larynx, are important in cancer care, and depending on the type and extent of the cancer, may be the main physician directing the cancer patient's care. For several decades, the notion of a "team approach" has been embraced in the treatment of cancer. A team approach offers the support of an entire group of professionals, including the physicians of the specialties mentioned, nurses, social workers and others. The team also includes diagnostic physicians, like surgical pathologists and diagnostic radiologists who have special expertise in evaluation of the studies important for confirming and staging cancer.
 
Some types of cancers and other malignancies are at least equally the province of other specialists, because of the part of the body they affect, or because the treatments they require, are the focus of those particular specialties. So, for example, [[Radiation Oncology|radiation oncologists]], who are trained in the use of external beam radiation and other kinds of radiation treatments, and surgeons who are specialists in the areas of the body that the cancer affects, like the breast or larynx, are important in cancer care, and depending on the type and extent of the cancer, may be the main physician directing the cancer patient's care. For several decades, the notion of a "team approach" has been embraced in the treatment of cancer. A team approach offers the support of an entire group of professionals, including the physicians of the specialties mentioned, nurses, social workers and others. The team also includes diagnostic physicians, like surgical pathologists and diagnostic radiologists who have special expertise in evaluation of the studies important for confirming and staging cancer.
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==Prevention==
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{| class="wikitable" align="right"
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|+ [[Systematic review]]s by the [[Cochrane Collaboration]] regarding supplements for the the prevention of cancer
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! Intervention!!Type of cancer||[[Relative risk ratio]]
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| [[Calcium]]<ref name="pmid18254022">{{cite journal |author=Weingarten MA, Zalmanovici A, Yaphe J |title=Dietary calcium supplementation for preventing colorectal cancer and adenomatous polyps |journal=Cochrane Database Syst Rev |volume= |issue=1 |pages=CD003548 |year=2008 |pmid=18254022 |doi=10.1002/14651858.CD003548.pub4 |url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003548.pub4 |issn=}}</ref>||align="center"|[[Colorectal cancer]]||align="center"|"Although the evidence from two RCTs suggests that calcium supplementation might contribute to a moderate degree to the prevention of colorectal adenomatous polyps, this does not constitute sufficient evidence to recommend the general use of calcium supplements to prevent colorectal cancer"
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| [[Antioxidant]]s<ref name="pmid18677777">{{cite journal |author=Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Simonetti RG, Gluud C |title=Antioxidant supplements for preventing gastrointestinal cancers |journal=Cochrane Database Syst Rev |volume= |issue=3 |pages=CD004183 |year=2008 |pmid=18677777 |doi=10.1002/14651858.CD004183.pub3 |url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD004183.pub3 |issn=}}</ref>||align="center"|Gastrointestinal cancer||align="center"|"We could not find convincing evidence that antioxidant supplements prevent gastrointestinal cancers. On the contrary, antioxidant supplements seem to increase overall mortality. The potential cancer preventive effect of selenium should be tested in adequately conducted randomised trials."
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== References==
 
== References==

Revision as of 04:33, 29 January 2009

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Cancer refers to a wide variety of diseases that have in common uncontrolled cell proliferation. Malignant growth entails uncontrolled cell division, lack of normal cell death (apoptosis), and failure of the cells' environment to help control its growth. At a certain point, a cancer can also gain the ability to escape from its point of origin and "metastisize", or spread. As clumps of cancer cells grow, then can form "tumors". Not all cancers form tumors. For instance, in most leukemias, the cancer cells are circulating through the blood, rather than forming discrete masses. Cancers, especially rapidly growing ones, can consume a great deal of energy, and can secrete various substances that cause a general decline in health.

Cancer can cause symptoms in a number of ways: by direct effect on the organ involved (i.e. a cough with lung cancer), by growing into a vital structure (i.e. prostate cancer obstructing the urethra), or by causing generalized malaise and anorexia. This last topic is less well understood.

Since cancers arise from so many different cell types, treatments are often very specific. There is no one treatment for "cancer".

Classification

Cancers are generally classified by the cell and/or tissue type of origin, and Latin or Greek prefixes are often used to name the tissue involved. English names are used frequently for common cancers. For example, an epithelial-derived cancer in the bowel is a "colon carcinoma". A mesothelial-derived cancer in the bone is an "osteosarcoma" (the prefix "osteo-" refers to bone). Other terms that refer to cancer are "malignancy" and "malignant neoplasm" (or simply neoplasm, although neoplasm can also refer to benign growths).

The following general categories are usually accepted:


Tumors are named using -oma as a suffix with the organ name as the root. For instance, a benign tumor of the smooth muscle of the uterus is called "leiomyoma" (the common name of this frequent tumor is fibroid). If the tumor is malignant, the appropriate suffix is added, for example, "leiomyosarcoma" is the cancerous version of a fibroid tumor.

This introductory article will give a brief description of what a malignancy is, and how cells are thought to become malignant. That understanding is important as a basis to comprehend the medical and surgical treatment of cancers, and effective approaches to their prevention. After a general introduction to malignancies, major types of carcinomas (epithelial malignancies) are surveyed, with links provided for further information. The clinical emphasis is on human cancers, but references to cancers in other species of animals is also made. Although the frequencies and the aggresiveness of the various types of cancers vary according to species, generally, the basic biology of cancers is true for all species of vertebrate animals, including humans and domestic animals.

Cancer vs. other tumors

Many types of growths can be found on and in the human body. The term neoplasm is generally used for any abnormal growth. Not all growths, however, are cancerous, or malignant. Historically, illnesses of human and animals that were progressive and fatal, and that involved tumors that destroyed flesh, were well known. Although the word "cancer" has been used to describe such conditions, today the term cancer is only used when malignant cells are present in the body. Many processes can cause the body to form masses (lumps), including infections, and scarring from trauma and burns. Since malignant cells can almost always be recognized under the microscope, if the tissue is properly prepared, a biopsy is virtually always required to make a firm diagnosis of cancer.

Types of Biopsies: Incisional & Excisional

There are two general types of biopsies: incisional and excisional. If an area is suspicious for a possible malignancy, and it is both small and accessible, the entire lesion is usually removed in the biopsy. So, for example, a small freckle of the skin that shows signs of possible melanoma would be removed completely, rather than simply sampled. On the other hand, if excision would entail extra risk to the patient or is better done in continuity with other structures of the body, such as lymph nodes or bone, then an incisional biopsy, in which only a relatively small portion of the lesion is removed, is a better choice.

Malignancy: How do malignant cells develop?

carcinogens are mutagens

"Cancer can be defined as a genetic disease at the cellular level" [1] That's because the rate of cell division and the amount of differentiation of a cell are controlled by genes. When mature cells become more like embryonic cells, they are said to de-differentiate. Although this process is not thought to be the exact opposite of differentiation of cells, it does describe the loss of characteristics of mature cells that cancer cells undergo.

DNA repair

When DNA is damaged in normal cells, by such environmental processes as exposure to sunlight or by errors that occur in cell division, then, ideally, repairs are made and normal DNA is restored. If there are defects in the ability of a cell to repair DNA, this can lead to the daughters of that cell eventually becoming malignant. Since a small number of defects are expected to occur with each cell division, an inability to repair them can lead to more and more abnormalities in successive generations of cells.

Oncogenes

Common malignancies that are not epithelial cancers

Important forms of epithelial cancers

Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (skin)

Head & Neck Cancer

Mouth, throat and larynx

Esophagus

Thyroid gland

Lung Cancer

Breast Cancer

Colon Cancer

other gastrointestinal cancers

Prostate cancer

Brain tumors (cancers)

Oncology,Hematology and specialties that treat cancer

The two medical specialties that focus on malignancies are oncology and hematology. Oncologists are physicians who are fully trained in Internal Medicine and have further training in the treatment of malignant tumors, primarily solid tumors. Hematologists are also physicians who are fully trained in Internal Medicine, in their case further training is in disorders of the blood, including the bone marrow, which produces blood cells. Both hematologists and oncologists have advanced training in giving the drugs that inhibit cancer growth, called chemotherapy.

Some types of cancers and other malignancies are at least equally the province of other specialists, because of the part of the body they affect, or because the treatments they require, are the focus of those particular specialties. So, for example, radiation oncologists, who are trained in the use of external beam radiation and other kinds of radiation treatments, and surgeons who are specialists in the areas of the body that the cancer affects, like the breast or larynx, are important in cancer care, and depending on the type and extent of the cancer, may be the main physician directing the cancer patient's care. For several decades, the notion of a "team approach" has been embraced in the treatment of cancer. A team approach offers the support of an entire group of professionals, including the physicians of the specialties mentioned, nurses, social workers and others. The team also includes diagnostic physicians, like surgical pathologists and diagnostic radiologists who have special expertise in evaluation of the studies important for confirming and staging cancer.

Prevention

Systematic reviews by the Cochrane Collaboration regarding supplements for the the prevention of cancer
Intervention Type of cancer Relative risk ratio
Calcium[2] Colorectal cancer "Although the evidence from two RCTs suggests that calcium supplementation might contribute to a moderate degree to the prevention of colorectal adenomatous polyps, this does not constitute sufficient evidence to recommend the general use of calcium supplements to prevent colorectal cancer"
Antioxidants[3] Gastrointestinal cancer "We could not find convincing evidence that antioxidant supplements prevent gastrointestinal cancers. On the contrary, antioxidant supplements seem to increase overall mortality. The potential cancer preventive effect of selenium should be tested in adequately conducted randomised trials."

References

  1. J. Larry Jameson, Peter Kopp:Chapter 56. Principles of Human Genetics. Harrison's Online Featuring the complete contents of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 16th Edition (Dennis L. Kasper, Eugene Braunwald, Anthony S. Fauci, Stephen L. Hauser, Dan L. Longo, J. Larry Jameson, and Kurt J. Isselbacher, Eds.)Copyright © 2005. Mcgraw-Hill's Access Medicine)
  2. Weingarten MA, Zalmanovici A, Yaphe J (2008). "Dietary calcium supplementation for preventing colorectal cancer and adenomatous polyps". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD003548. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD003548.pub4. PMID 18254022. Research Blogging.
  3. Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Simonetti RG, Gluud C (2008). "Antioxidant supplements for preventing gastrointestinal cancers". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (3): CD004183. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD004183.pub3. PMID 18677777. Research Blogging.

External links

Topics in Cancer - provided by the National Institutes of Health (USA) [1]

National Health Service site for general patient information (UK). Search for cancer in "questions" and "encyclopedia" [2]

Further reading