about cancer

What is cancer
Around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to tobacco use, high body mass index, alcohol consumption, low fruit and vegetable intake, and lack of physical activity.
Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms.

One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs; the latter process is referred to as metastasis. Widespread metastases are the primary cause of death from cancer.

  • The most common types of cancer are breast, lung, bowel, liver, stomach and prostate cancer.
  • Many types of cancer can be successfully cured with timely diagnosis and correct treatment.
  • About 400,000 children get cancer every year.
  • The prevalence of different types of cancer varies from country to country.
  • Although cancer is still one of the main causes of death in the world, every year medical advances make it possible to reduce this number.
What causes cancer
WHO, through its cancer research agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), maintains a classification of cancer-causing agents.
Cancer arises from the transformation of normal cells into tumour cells in a multi-stage process that generally progresses from a pre-cancerous lesion to a malignant tumour.

These changes are the result of the interaction between a person’s genetic factors and three categories of external agents, including:
  • physical carcinogens, such as ultraviolet and ionizing radiation;
  • chemical carcinogens, such as asbestos, components of tobacco smoke, alcohol, aflatoxin (a food contaminant), and arsenic (a drinking water contaminant); and
  • biological carcinogens, such as infections from certain viruses, bacteria, or parasites.

Sometimes the internal state of the body and the hormones released by the body can also contribute to the occurrence of these genetic abnormalities.

Cancer is most often diagnosed in middle-aged and elderly people, but the cell changes that cause cancer start much earlier, so it’s important to protect yourself from it at any age.
The number of people getting cancer is increasing, in part because people are living longer now than in the past.

Risk factors for cancer and other non-communicable diseases include tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and air pollution.
Some chronic infections can also be risk factors for cancer, and this problem is particularly acute in low- and middle-income countries.

In 2018, approximately 13% of cancers diagnosed worldwide were associated with carcinogenic infections such as Helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and Epstein-Barr virus.

Hepatitis B and C viruses and some types of HPV increase the risk of developing liver and cervical cancer, respectively. HIV infection increases the risk of cervical cancer sixfold and significantly increases the risk of other cancers such as Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Cancer prevention
Between 30 and 50% of cancers can currently be prevented by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies.
Cancer risk can be reduced by:
  • not using tobacco;
  • maintaining a healthy body weight;
  • eating a healthy diet, including fruit and vegetables;
  • doing physical activity on a regular basis;
  • avoiding or reducing consumption of alcohol;
  • getting vaccinated against HPV and hepatitis B if you belong to a group for which vaccination is recommended;
  • avoiding ultraviolet radiation exposure (which primarily results from exposure to the sun and artificial tanning devices) and/or using sun protection measures;
  • ensuring safe and appropriate use of radiation in health care (for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes);
  • minimizing occupational exposure to ionizing radiation.

When identified early, cancer is more likely to respond to treatment and can result in a greater probability of survival with less morbidity, as well as less expensive treatment.
Early detection of cancer includes two sets of measures - early diagnosis and screening.

Agrīna diagnostika
Early detection of cancer increases the likelihood of a good response to treatment, increases the patient's chances of survival, reduces the severity of the disease and allows for cheaper treatments. Early cancer detection and timely treatment can significantly improve the lives of cancer patients.

Early diagnosis consists of three components:
  • being aware of the symptoms of different forms of cancer and of the importance of seeking medical advice when abnormal findings are observed;
  • access to clinical evaluation and diagnostic services; and
  • timely referral to treatment services.

Screening aims to identify individuals with findings suggestive of a specific cancer or pre-cancer before they have developed symptoms. When abnormalities are identified during screening, further tests to establish a definitive diagnosis should follow, as should referral for treatment if cancer is proven to be present.

The existence of screening programs does not eliminate the need for early detection programs because they allow cancer to be detected in people who do not qualify for screening due to age or exposure to risk factors.

Screening patients are selected based on age and risk factors to avoid excessive false-positive results.
One of the most popular screening methods is mammography for breast cancer detection in women.
Cancer treatment
Dažiem no visizplatītākajiem vēža veidiem, piemēram, krūts vēzim, dzemdes kakla vēzim, mutes vēzim un kolorektālajam vēzim, ir liela iespēja tikt izārstētam, ja tie tiek savlaicīgi atklāti un ārstēti saskaņā ar labāko praksi.
A correct cancer diagnosis is essential for appropriate and effective treatment because every cancer type requires a specific treatment regimen. Treatment usually includes surgery, radiotherapy, and/or systemic therapy (chemotherapy, hormonal treatments, targeted biological therapies). Proper selection of a treatment regimen takes into consideration both the cancer and the individual being treated. Completion of the treatment protocol in a defined period of time is important to achieve the predicted therapeutic result.
Determining the goals of treatment is an important first step. The primary goal is generally to cure cancer or to considerably prolong life. Improving the patient’s quality of life is also an important goal. This can be achieved by support for the patient’s physical, psychosocial and spiritual well-being and palliative care in terminal stages of cancer.
Some cancer types, such as testicular seminoma and different types of leukaemia and lymphoma in children, also have high cure rates if appropriate treatment is provided, even when cancerous cells are present in other areas of the body.