What is Cancer
People often ask “What is Cancer?”. Essentially, it is a group of diseases, of which there are over 100 types. Cancer can strike anyone of any age. Caused by abnormal cell growth, they can lead to death if left untreated. In Singapore, according to a report by the National Registry of Diseases Office (NRDO), more than 78,000 people were diagnosed with cancer from 2015 to 2019 – an average of over 40 cases diagnosed daily. Over 28,000 people died from cancer during this period.
How Does it Start?
To answer what is cancer, consider this – a human body comprises trillions of cells. Normally, over time the cells will grow, divide, die and will be replaced by new cells. However, the natural process of cell replacement may sometimes break down. When cancer cells develop, they do not die like normal health cells do. They instead continue to grow and divide uncontrollably, and may end up forming a tumor. Not all types of cancer form tumors. For example, leukaemia typically starts in the bone marrow and enter the bloodstream without the formation of a tumor.
Are Tumors Bad?
Tumors can be classified as either benign or malignant. Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body and are not cancerous. While these can sometimes cause problems to the patient if they become too big, thankfully they rarely result in life-threatening situations.
Malignant tumors on the other hand can invade and destroy healthy tissues in the body, causing harm to the patient.
Cancers Can Spread
Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems – this process is called metastasis. Cancers are named based on where they first occurred, even when they affect other areas of the body. For instance, if it begins in the breast, it is called breast cancer. One that has spread to other parts of the body is called metastatic breast cancer.
As there are many different types of cancers, it is important for patients to determine which type of cancer they have, so that doctors can prescribe the right treatment.
Early Detection is Key
As you might image, chances of successful treatment can be higher if the disease is detected early. Cancer screening for early detection early before any symptoms appear can provide patients with the best chances of recovery, since by the time symptoms appear, the disease is often already at an advanced stage. Want to find out more about cancer screening? Read about it here.
Other Articles on Cancer in Singapore That Might Interest You
- What are the Signs and Symptoms of cancer?
- What are Cancer Stages and what do they mean for patients?
- How to Prevent Cancer?
- What are the Top Cancers in Singapore?
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.