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CANCER

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Cancer is on the Rise

Cancer is on the Rise.

The rate of rise is dramatic, doubling in the last 30 years. Furthermore, of the estimated 560,000 cancer victims who would die in 1997, most of them could have prevented their illness had they paid attention to some simple lifestyle factors.

Although the number of cancer deaths continues to rise each year in the U.S., the per capita cancer mortality rate has just recently started to decline. This celebrated small decline was first announced by the National Cancer Institute in late 1996, but a careful retrospective review of the data indicated that the per capita cancer death rate peaked in 1991 and has ever so slowly declined thereafter. The reason for this decline? Not improved cancer treatments, but cancer prevention itself emerges as the cause for this good news. Although the authors of this report readily admit that “the war against cancer is far from over,” they emphatically state that “A national commitment to the prevention of cancer, largely replacing reliance on hopes for universal cures, is now the way to go.”

This information is given with the hope of putting people on the cutting edge of this new commitment to the prevention of cancer and cancer death.

 

How Cells Become Cancerous

Let us look at what cancer actually is. Cancer involves the production of cells in the body. Every minute 10 million cells divide in our bodies. Complex internal control mechanisms usually ensure that every one of these cell divisions occurs in a precise way at just the right time. The process called cancer can begin when foreign substances in the external environment (chemicals, radiation, viruses, etc.) get into the body and somehow perturb these internal control mechanisms. It can also begin as a result of problems that originate with the body’s internal environment (hormonal imbalances, immune impairment, inherited mutations, etc.). Regardless of the combination of factors that start the process, the result is the same: a single cell begins to multiply in an unregulated manner. As this cell multiplies, it passes its characteristic of unregulated growth to its offspring. A cancerous tissue made up of many unregulated cells is the result.

One of the ways that environmental agents appear to induce cancer is by inflicting damage on the cells’ DNA. DNA contains explicit instructions for all cell activities and thus spells out exactly how each cell in our body should function. For example, the DNA tells our bodies what color to make our hair and whether we should have blue eyes or brown eyes. This same DNA controls the rate of division of cells. On certain critical areas of a cell’s DNA there are genes that can stimulate the growth of that cell and other genes that can suppress its growth. One way that cancer can occur is through damage to this DNA. If the damage causes activation of areas that stimulate growth and/or the inactivation of areas that would keep growth in check, the result can be uncontrolled growth of that cell and its offspring. This, as we have noted, signals the beginning of a cancerous growth. We refer to that altered cell as a cancer cell if its genetics are changed in such a way as to allow uncontrolled multiplication.

If the body detects abnormal cancerous cells at an early stage, those cells can be destroyed before they have a chance to significantly grow and multiply. In fact, many scientists believe that every day—in every person—some normal cells are converted into cancerous cells. Usually, the person’s immune system destroys these newly altered cells. Unfortunately, however, sometimes a new cancerous cell is not detected and it manages to divide and grow without check. These cells can then continue to silently grow out of control. Ultimately they can form a mass or “tumor.” Commonly, cancer cells from larger tumors will get into the blood stream and/or lymph system and travel to other vital organs. All of these changes may occur long before the cancer is even diagnosed. Depending on the growth rate of the cancer, it may take 10 years or longer before signs or symptoms develop that ultimately prompt the medical evaluation that results in the diagnosis of cancer.

Early Detection is Crucial

Early detection provides the best chance of treating cancer while it is still curable. There are two ways to do this: (1) prompt recognition of cancer’s symptoms; and (2) appropriate use of cancer screening tests.

Recognizing Cancer's Symptoms

Cancer is often curable if detected early enough. Unfortunately, many patients are not mindful of the importance of early detection. Some patients complain of intermittent bleeding from the rectum for perhaps a year or more before seeing a physician. Some put off that doctor’s visit because of simple procrastination, while others may have delayed because of the fear of cancer. Still others may have dismissed the seriousness of this warning sign, thinking it was due to a minor condition like a hemorrhoid. Only after they start having pain or other symptoms do they finally decide to be evaluated for the bleeding problem. By this time, for many, it is already too late.

One diagnostic tool is a colonoscope—a long, flexible tube that is inserted into the rectum and passed up through the large intestine, or colon. It has a light and camera at the end that allows the doctor to directly look at the inside of the intestine. It also comes with special tools for removing early cancers or non-cancerous polyps without major surgery. As the Dr. looks through the scope He occasionally find a cancerous mass that is already too large to remove. At that point there may be little chance of cure, but the person may still need major surgery—at least to avoid a total bowel blockage. Frequently, death is the result, since by this time the cancer has often spread to vital organs such as the liver.

The message that this and a thousand other scenarios illustrate is that everyone should pay attention to cancer’s warning signs. It is only by heeding these early warnings that we have the best chance of detecting and treating the disease while it is still curable. For years, the American Cancer Society has encouraged all Americans to be aware of seven of the most important cancer warning signs. These are listed here:*

Seven Warning Signs

 

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*Above Reference in whole or in part is from the book "Proof Possitive" by Neil Nedley, M.D.

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CANCER NEWS:

Cancer Research UK
Click here: Cancer Research UK : Secrets of a cancer virus revealed

Epstein-Barr virus, frequently referred to as EBV, is a member of the herpesvirus family and one of the most common human viruses. The virus occurs worldwide, and most people become infected with EBV sometime during their lives. In the United States, as many as 95% of adults between 35 and 40 years of age have been infected. Infants become susceptible to EBV as soon as maternal antibody protection (present at birth) disappears. Many children become infected with EBV, and these infections usually cause no symptoms or are indistinguishable from the other mild, brief illnesses of childhood. In the United States and in other developed countries, many persons are not infected with EBV in their childhood years. When infection with EBV occurs during adolescence or young adulthood, it causes infectious mononucleosis 35% to 50% of the time.

Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis are fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands. Sometimes, a swollen spleen or liver involvement may develop. Heart problems or involvement of the central nervous system occurs only rarely, and infectious mononucleosis is almost never fatal. There are no known associations between active EBV infection and problems during pregnancy, such as miscarriages or birth defects. Although the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis usually resolve in 1 or 2 months, EBV remains dormant or latent in a few cells in the throat and blood for the rest of the person's life. Periodically, the virus can reactivate and is commonly found in the saliva of infected persons. This reactivation usually occurs without symptoms of illness.

EBV also establishes a lifelong dormant infection in some cells of the body's immune system. A late event in a very few carriers of this virus is the emergence of Burkitt's lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, two rare cancers that are not normally found in the United States. EBV appears to play an important role in these malignancies, but is probably not the sole cause of disease.

 

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