Types of cancer and their significant impact factors


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Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and multiply to form new cells as the body needs them. Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the world. But survival rates are improving for many types of cancer, thanks to improvements in cancer screening, treatment and prevention. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Cancerous tumors spread into, or invade, nearby tissues and can travel to distant places in the body to form new tumors. Cancerous tumors may also be called malignant tumors. Many cancers form solid tumors, but cancers of the blood, such as leukemias, generally do not. Cancer is caused by changes (mutations) to the DNA within cells.

The DNA inside a cell is packaged into a large number of individual genes, each of which contains a set of instructions telling the cell what functions to perform, as well as how to grow and divide. Errors in the instructions can cause the cell to stop its normal function and may allow a cell to become cancerous. 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. The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age, most likely due to a build-up of risks for specific cancers that increase with age. The overall risk accumulation is combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective as a person grows older. Tobacco use, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and air pollution are risk factors for cancer and other noncommunicable diseases. Some chronic infections are risk factors for cancer; this is a particular issue in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately 13% of cancers diagnosed in 2018 globally were attributed to carcinogenic infections, including Helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and Epstein-Barr virus.

Hepatitis B and C viruses and some types of HPV increase the risk for liver and cervical cancer, respectively. Infection with HIV increases the risk of developing cervical cancer six-fold and substantially increases the risk of developing select other cancers such as Kaposi sarcoma. 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. Screening programmes are effective for some but not all cancer types and in general are far more complex and resource-intensive than early diagnosis as they require special equipment and dedicated personnel. Even when screening programmes are established, early diagnosis programmes are still necessary to identify those cancer cases occurring in people who do not meet the age or risk factor criteria for screening. Quality assurance is required for both screening and early diagnosis programmes.