How Does Cancer Affect the Body?

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What is cancer?

  • Cancer is a medical term used to describe cells that multiply out of control. Normally, cells in the body die off and get reproduced in order for a person's organs or other body functions to sustain themselves. Most people have a pace or specific rate for which normal cell development will occur. When someone has cancer, too many cells can actually develop in the body, thereby causing cancerous material to lump together within certain portions of a person's body. This is what causes tumors to develop.

In what way does cancer affect the body?

  • Cancers of the blood, such as leukemia, which starts in the bone marrow, are much more deadly and do not manifest as tumors. This particular type of cancer will travel to portions of the body and will restrict or even kill off a healthy cell's ability to reproduce. For example, in the blood, red and white cells must be regenerated systematically in order for a person to get enough nutrients and oxygen throughout the circulatory system. This is very necessary to sustain vital organs such as the heart, liver and lungs. If a person cannot reproduce viable healthy cells, this causes vital organs to die, as the blood and the organs are very much interrelated. Instead of having normal cells, the body becomes overrun with diseased ones. Genetic material in cells can mutate causing the diseased cells to spread or metastasize. This means that diseased cells spread to other areas of the body causing additional cancerous cell development--simply, more tumors will develop elsewhere after the cancer spreads. This can be an extremely life-threatening circumstance for many patients.

How do treatments for cancer affect the body?

  • How a cancer is treated will depend greatly on where it originates. Many cancers respond very differently. For example, leukemia causes more than 20,000 deaths a year, because it cannot be simply removed in the way a tumor might be. A person with this type of cancer may have to undergo a series of treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or even radiation therapy. Such treatments are often successful in treating the various types of cancer growths in the body. The main problem with chemotherapy and radiation treatments--when you kill cancerous cells you also kill whatever healthy cells are still left.

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