World Health Organization has recently stressed the need for cancer prevention and control programs across the world. This suggestion was given out in the light of recent estimates, which report that the cancer related deaths have increased up to 60% between 1990 and 2013.

The disease in known to be increasing rapidly in the developing nations, including India. This has led to serious concerns and stressed the urgency to formulate strategies for prevention and earlier detection.

Science behind cancer

“CANCER” is the term, which sends chill down our spine whenever we hear it. These days, frequently do we hear about some friend’s relative or someone we know having this deadly disease! It has now become a common disease with severe repercussions.

‘Cancer’ is derived from Latin word – meaning a crab. It can be defined as abnormal and uncontrolled cell multiplication, beyond its normal capability. A cancerous cell has characteristic property of invading normal cells or tissues. This property is what makes it fatal.

Cells have a life cycle in which they multiply & divide to their full potential, perform their work & ultimately perish. This is a normal phenomenon. But imagine a cell which is dividing & multiplying continuously. Will it be able to perform its allotted function? Of course not! Moreover these dividing cells will be dangerously hungry. Where will they get nutrients from?

As the nutrient supply to the cell is limited, a cancerous cell will derive its supplement from the neighboring normal cell, thus making the normal cell starve to death. Due to this, a normal working cell or tissue will diminish gradually. But, the deadly cancerous cell will increase quantitatively.

Why do cells turn cancerous?

The prime reason for cancer is mutation. Mutation means alternation of base pairs of DNA in the gene. It is like misspelt word or wrongly punctuated statement, which gives a completely different meaning. When genes undergo mutation, it alters the information on them, there by changing the resultant protein and in turn, the body physiology.

Why do mutations occur?

Mutation occurs due to exposure of various hazardous physical, chemical & biological agents which are present in our cosmos.

For example, Cigarette smoking is one of the potent carcinogen causing lung cancer. Another very important carcinogen is pan masala which is a major cause for oral cancer. Other chemical carcinogens are azo dyes- causing liver cancer, asbestos dust causing bronchogenic carcinoma.

UVB radiations & x rays are some of the physical carcinogens.

Biological agents which cause cancer include- bacteria like Helicobacter pylori, fungus like Aspergillus & some viruses. Some of the cancers are inheritable.

Lifestyle and Cancer: Research says that, only 5-10 % of all the cancers are inherited, rest of them are due to environment and lifestyle. Apart from the above mentioned carcinogens, the factors which lead to cancer are the dietary habits – fried foods, processed foods, malnutrition, stress, obesity and lack of physical activity. All these factors are common in today’s lifestyle and hence, the increase in the number of cancer patients.


Gender                     World                    India

Male                       Lung cancer             Oral cancer

Female                    Breast cancer          cervical cancer



Cancer is one of the deadliest disease in the world with a very poor prognosis. Treatment is very complicated with catastrophic side effects. So prevention can play a major role in reducing its incidents. It can be prevented by switching to a healthy lifestyle, by quitting smoking, pan masala, etc. Prevention is always, better than cure.

Switch to a healthy lifestyle, live well.

One thought on “Understanding Cancer”

  1. Very nice illustration regarding cancer .
    This was simple and complete note on of the deadliest diseases mankind is facing today .
    Almost every general aspect was covered .

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