Cancer! The very word sends a frisson of fear down most peoples’ backs. It conjures up images of unwanted malignant tumours and cells dividing uncontrollably. Equalled only by AIDS in the fear stakes, there is a general misconception that Cancer is a new disease, a by-product, if you will, of modern man’s excesses. The excesses of modern living may indeed contribute to an increase in the incidence of Cancer, but earlier civilisations too may have had to contend with this affliction.
The word Cancer is thought to have first been used by the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC), who is regarded as the Father of Medicine, to describe ulcer-forming and non-ulcer forming tumours; carcinoma for the former and carcinos for the latter. The oldest known description of the disease, however, goes back to 2650 BC in ancient Egypt. Oncology (the medical discipline that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Cancer) was established much later and is now a distinct discipline in Medicine.
Cancer can be described as the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. These new cells may form a mass of tissue, which we label as tumours. Some Cancers (Leukemia for example) do not form tissues. The malignant tumours thus formed can spread into nearby tissues and organs. This process is known as Metastasis. Metastasis may also occur through the blood and lymph systems. These two networks act as unwitting conduits for the spread of breakaway malignant cells to new locations in the body. These new locations can be quite removed from the original tumour. Conventional wisdom (or perception) points to two main culprits in introducing Cancer to the body: long exposure to asbestos and cigarette smoking.
While these two have indeed been linked to the incidence of Cancer in the body, the truth is that the provenance of most Cancers remains a mystery. What we do know for sure is that a compromised immune system (through AIDS for instance) provides an ideal environment for the disease to thrive. Scientists also draw a direct correlation of some Cancers to the proliferation of chemical factories, poor diet and processed foods.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the number of new Cancer cases at 14 million every year. WHO also puts the number of Cancer-related deaths at over 8 million annually. In countries where smoking is an entrenched social habit Lung and Bronchial Cancer account for most Cancer-related deaths. Breast Cancer, affecting mostly women, has consistently been near the top in the mortality stakes. Other Cancers that continue to ravage mankind include Colorectal, Prostate and Stomach. Cancers of the Pancreas, Liver, Uterus and Esophagus can prove fatal unless identified early and appropriate treatment initiated. Ovarian Cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Cancer of the Bladder and others also respond well if diagnosed early. Best practice in today’s world is to schedule a full body annual checkup whether one notices anything untoward in their makeup or not. Many a disease has been surprised in its nascent stages and lives saved in this way.
Benign tumours are not always harmless. When they occur in the brain, for instance, they can be life threatening.
Cancer treatment has traditionally been approached using three main methods. The best known, even outside medical circles, is Chemotherapy. This refers to the introduction of chemicals into the body through ingestion (orally) or by injection. It also frequently produces the most devastating side effects in the sufferer since it works on all active cells, including the healthy ones. The side effects are evident when Chemotherapy damages healthy cells. The most obvious of these side effects are often seen through the loss of cranial hair and extreme body weakness. Other side effects include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, blood disorders, constipation, mouth and throat sores, motor problems and muscle pains. Headaches, stomach aches and nerve pains are also associated with Chemotherapy. The other traditional Cancer treatments include Radiotherapy (the use of X-rays to kill Cancer cells) and Surgery. These three methods are by their very nature invasive and different patients respond differently to their administration.
We offer Integrative Treatments to treat the various types of Cancer. A Patient Representative is always ready to explore the various options that are open to you. With medical advances more people lead full lives after treatment of Cancer so please do get in touch for more information and guidance.