What is cancer / What are cancer cells and How does cancer occur?
We all have cancer cells. But cancer is caused when any of our regular cells multiply. The human body contains billions of cells. As old cells die, new cells divide to make new cells. This process happens in the body a million times a day. Cancers start when some cells in the body become abnormal, multiply out of control and take over normal cells in the area. Cancer cells don’t behave the same way as normal cells, they can grow and divide faster or live longer. As time passes, more and more abnormal cells are made and they start to outnumber normal cells in this area. They multiply out of control and form a cancer tumour. The simulation of a cell or a cell being exposed to harmful and toxic chemicals can also lead to cancer. For example tattoos can cause cancer because the cells are exposed to chemicals in the tattoo ink.
Some types of cancer are either only specific to a particular gender or are more common in a gender. For example, prostate cancer only occurs in males and breast cancer is more common in females. Cancer is not contagious, but can be passed through genetics. The nucleus of the parents could carry the genes of cancer. Therefore, when there have been cases of cancer in your family, more specifically your immediate family, you have a higher risk of getting cancer.
When you have cancer, the cancer in your body can spread, and therefore, you could have multiple types of cancer all at once. You could also have multiple cancers at once without one cancer spreading. For example, a smoker could get lung and mouth cancer at once.
How can you treat cancer?
A radiologist is a person who deals with the chemotherapy. The treatment varies from radiotherapy to chemotherapy. Cancer treatments are designed to stop or slow down this process. They work by removing the abnormal cells, killing them, or stopping them from growing and dividing. People with different cancers have different symptoms, they need different tests and treatments, and their chances of recovery after treatment are also different.
The most common types of cancer…
There are over 200 types of different cancers. The most common ones are…
– Breast Cancer
– Prostate Cancer
– Basal Cell Cancer
– Melanoma Cancer
– Colon Cancer
– Lung Cancer
How can you diagnose cancer?
An oncologist is a cancer expert, someone who specializes in diagnosis and treatments of cancer. Early diagnosis can lead to getting rid of the cancer faster. However, without a visible tumour, it is difficult to get diagnosed with cancer… sometimes we do not realize we have cancer until around the third stage, as we are usually not aware of our body.
Cancer is spread out into 4 stages, which are based on time periods and the growth of the tumour.
Mis-diagnosis is a major problem in the medical field which makes it more difficult to spot cancer without a tumour. It is recommended to have yearly check – ups in order to be able to spot a tumor as soon as possible before it expands and or spreads.
The method of diagnosing cancer I will be focusing on, is a mammogram. Mammograms can only be used to detect breast cancer.
What is a mammogram?
Mammography is a specific type of breast imaging that uses low dose x-rays to detect breast cancer at early stages, before one experiences symptoms, when it is most treatable. Mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by detecting cancers at its earliest stages.
Mammograms are recommended to be done on a regular basis by women of the age 40 or 50 and above. There is a higher risk of breast cancer as you get older and therefore it is vital to do mammograms on a regular basis so that you can detect them at their earliest stages.
Uptil 2009 women only from the age of 50 onwards for screening mammograms but the law was amended and now women from the age of 40 onwards are eligible for screening mammograms.
Finding breast cancers early with mammography has also meant that many more women being treated for breast cancer are able to keep their breasts. When caught early, localized cancers can be removed without resorting to breast removal (mastectomy).
The main risk of mammograms is that they aren’t perfect. Normal breast tissue can hide a breast cancer so that it doesn’t show up on the mammogram. This is called a false negative. And mammography can identify an abnormality that looks like a cancer, but turns out to be normal. This “false alarm” is called a false positive. Besides worrying about being diagnosed with breast cancer, a false positive means more tests and follow-up visits, which can be stressful. To make up for these limitations, more than mammography is often needed. Women also need to practice breast self-examination, get regular breast examinations by an experienced health care professional, and, in some cases, also get another form of breast imaging, such as breast MRI or ultrasound.
Some women wonder about the risks of radiation exposure due to mammography. Modern-day mammography only involves a tiny amount of radiation — even less than a standard chest X-ray.
How does a mammogram work?
During a mammogram, a patient’s breast is placed on a flat support plate and compressed with a parallel plate called a paddle. An x-ray machine produces a small burst of x-rays that pass through the breast to a detector located on the opposite side. The detector can be either a photographic film plate, which captures the x-ray image on film, or a solid-state detector, which transmits electronic signals to a computer to form a digital image. The images produced are called mammograms.
On a film mammogram, low density tissues, such as fat, appear translucent (i.e. darker shades of gray approaching the black background) whereas areas of dense tissue, such as connective and glandular tissue or tumors, appear whiter on a gray background. In a standard mammogram, both a top and a side view are taken of each breast, although extra views may be taken if the physician is concerned about a suspicious area of the breast.
A radiologist will carefully examine a mammogram to search for high density regions or areas of unusual configuration that look different from normal tissue. These areas could represent many different types of abnormalities, including cancerous tumors, non-cancerous masses called benign tumors, fibroadenomas, or complex cysts. Radiologists look at the size, shape, and contrast of an abnormal region, as well as the appearance of the edges or margins of such an area, all of which can indicate the possibility of malignancy (i.e. cancer). They also look for tiny bits of calcium, called microcalcifications, which show up as very bright specks on a mammogram. While usually benign, sites of microcalcifications may occasionally signal the presence of a specific type of cancer. If a mammogram shows one or more suspicious regions that are not definitive for cancer, the radiologist may order additional mammogram views, with or without additional magnification or compression, or they may order a biopsy. Another alternative may be referral for another type of non-invasive imaging study.
A digital mammogram uses the same x-ray technology as conventional mammograms, but instead of using film, solid-state detectors are used to record the x-ray pattern passing through the breast. These detectors convert the x-rays that pass through them into electronic signals that are sent to a computer. The computer then converts these electronic signals into images that can be displayed on a monitor and also stored for later use. Several advantages of using digital mammography over film mammography include: the ability to manipulate the image contrast for better clarity, the ability to use computer-aided detection of abnormalities, and the ability to easily transmit digital files to other experts for a second opinion. In addition, digital mammograms may decrease the need for the re-takes, which are common with film mammography due to incorrect exposure techniques or problems with film development. As a result, digital mammography can lead to lower x-ray exposures. To date, there is no evidence that digital mammography is better that film mammography for reducing a woman’s risk from breast cancer, however, digital screening may be more accurate for finding cancers in younger women or women with dense breasts.
Pros and Cons of a Mammogram…
– Mammograms detect cancer at its earliest stages
– They save lives
– Mammograms are estimated to reduce cancer rates by 15%.
– A lot of insurances cover regular mammograms for women
– Mammograms are not overpriced and they are quite reasonably priced
– Around 266,120 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed a year and 40,920 women die of breast cancer a year and if we didn’t have mammograms the estimated breast cancer deaths would be around 57, 058 breast cancer deaths a year
– The procedure causes minimal pain
– Finding breast cancer early reduces your risk of dying from the disease by 25-30% or more
– Mammograms mainly detect the earliest stages of cancer and if you have a later stage of breast cancer it may not detect it but then again you would be aware through various symptoms at later stages
– At various times your breasts may be tender, harder etc… therefore, making the results less accurate
– Mammograms are not always accurate, to be frank none of the methods of cancer are accurate
– A lot of women have regular mammograms which expose them to a lot of radiation when it may not be necessary to them
The effect of mammograms in the medical field…
Mammograms are earning the most money for the medical field out of all other methods used to diagnose breast cancer because millions of women around the world do it regularly. Though it is not pricy, women are willing to pay the price for it as it highly reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer.
Mammograms are also putting other methods of breast cancer diagnoses out of business. Mammograms are the most used method of diagnosis for breast cancer and so, the other methods are not getting as much business as they used to and some methods have stopped being used.
Though, mammograms are reducing some of the income in the medical field. This is because mammograms are reducing the amount of cancer treatment around the world and cancer treatment brings in a lot of money to the medical industry which is now reduced because of early diagnosis.
What is the social effect of mammograms…
Mammograms used to be a taboo factor in society and they weren’t openly discussed. Now a days mammograms are more freely discussed and accepted. Often when someone goes for a mammogram people instantly think they have cancer and that’s why theyre going for a mammogram when in reality they’re simply going for a chekup. When the word cancer comes up or even a cancer check up arises, people start worrying and they start stereotyping that youre going to die and the cancer is going to ruin you. When you get cancer, you do distant yourself more from people and often feel to weak to attend social gatherings and meetings. When you go for a mammogram the pain is minimal but sometimes the radiation gives you a headache and perhaps the pain will stop you from socializing and will urge you to stay indoors all day.
How science is applied in mammograms…
Science is helping us every day and coming up with brand new innovations. The mammogram process uses a lot of science. The rays used and the process of screening during a mammogram is all-scientific and without science it wouldn’t work.
The way mammograms are able to detect the tumor and the abnormal cells is all scientific too as your body functions through science. The way the mammogram uses its technological science and corporates with the body’s cells is all a collaboration of scientific functions too.
My opinion on mammograms…
In my opinion, mammograms are extremely helpful and beneficial. They save millions of lives and they are very helpful to women who are constantly in fear of breast cancer. The way mammograms work with our body to detect cancer is phenomenal and I am very impressed with this.
Mammograms are making lives of women all around the world much easier and this in my eyes is a huge plus because I do not like it when people suffer and undergo a lot of pain. I also believe in equal status for men and women, and mammograms are empowering lots of women.