1. What causes cancer?
A. There is no easily definable cause for cancer. It
is not caused by normal kinds of viral and other infections,
though a certain type of Stomach cancer is associated
with "Helicopylori" bacteria. It is certainly
known today that constant and persistent itching, discomfort
or lesions can become cancerous overtime.
2. How does cancer grow?
A. Cancer is regarded as a disease of cells. It is
characterized by an excess of a particular group of
cells, beyond the number needed for normal function
of the body organ affected. Due to the uncontrolled
growth of cells, they tend to take away nutrition and
growth factors from other cells to themselves, thus
weakening these other cells substantially- to the extent
the body itself is affected. In order to sustain their
own growth they can even change the blood vessels to
ensure maximum nutrition availability for themselves.
Since the average age of a cancer cell is much more
than that of a normal cell, their population grows at
a phenomenal rate. Their uncontrolled growth blocks
the blood passages, food passages, nerves, etc. and
puts enormous pressure on neighboring organs leading
to severe pain and discomfort.
3.What are Carcinogens?
A. Carcinogens are the substances that can cause cancer.
These are present everywhere. Air, water and food carry
them into our bodies, where they alter the character
of the human cells. Genetic predisposition and intake
of carcinogens combine to create a most hazardous situation
for contracting and progression of cancer. Some of the
carcinogenic substances are tobacco, alcohol, heavy
metals like Antimony, Cadmium, etc.
4.What is Carcinogenesis?
A. Carcinogenesis is the process of the production
of the cancerous tendency in the cells; that is, the
process of transforming the normal cells into cancerous
cells. It involves the following steps:
* Exposure to the relevant carcinogenic (cancer producing)
* Metabolic process by which the agent is absorbed into
* Interaction between the agents and the cell constituents,
(DNA, RNA and chromatin material)
* Repair of the DNA damage, death of the cell or persistence
and replication of a clone of abnormal cells within
* Growth of this abnormal clone into a definable focus
of pre-neoplastic cells (that is, cancerous cells)
* Uncontrollable and speedy formation of a colony of
such cells, called the tumour.
* Growth of the tumor and its spread to the other parts
of the body.
* Transfer of the seeds of such cancerous cells to other
parts of the body, setting up of a new colony of such
cells in other parts, which is called "Metastasis".
5.Does cancer cause pain?
A. It is a misconception that all cancer causes pain.
Just because someone has cancer it does not mean that
one will inevitably have pain. Pain is caused when the
tumor becomes large and exerts pressure on neighboring
parts or organs. Not all cancers cause pain, but pain
does accompany some forms of cancers.
6.Is cancer inherited?
A. No, cancer is generally not inherited. There has
been no evidence of cancer being inherited till date.
However, there are cases of many cancer patients within
a family or over generations. Since cancer is a disease
related to genetics, certain genetic predisposition
can be carried forward from generation to generation
in the family, if there is a history of cancer in a
family, prudence demands that the family should get
themselves checked and exercise all necessary restraints.
7. Can viruses cause cancer?
A. Yes, long term existences of some viruses do cause
cancer, but there has been very little evidence available.
Particularly, some viruses can cause certain types of
cancer. Example, Human T-cell Leukemia (Type of blood
cancer), Burkitt's Lymphoma and Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma,
Gastric Carcinoma (stomach cancer).
8. What are the types of Cancers?
A. There are many types of cancer as there are many
tissues in body. Over 215 types of cancer have been
identified. Typical cancers are brain, blood, bone,
lymph, throat, eye, skin (melanoma), stomach, small
intestine, large intestine (intestinal cancer), bowels,
liver, ovary (ovarian cancer), testes(testicular cancer),
etc. The most common sites of cancer in the body are
lung, breast, cervix, bowels, throats, stomach, ovary,
etc. Classification of type of cancer, is done based
upon the tissues & organs in a body in which it
is originated. On this basis, cancer can be divided
into Carcinoma, Sarcoma and Leukemia.
9.What is Carcinoma?
A. Carcinoma is the cancerous change in the tissues
that line the body organs that is epithelial cells.
For example, Breast cancers.
10.What is Sarcoma?
A. Sarcomas are the cancers that arise in the connective
tissues like nerve, muscle, and bone. For example. Brain
11. What is Leukemia?
A. The cancer of blood cells and the cells of the immune
system which are found in lymphnodes is referred to
12. What is Metastasis?
A. The last stage of cancer process is "Progression".
It involves increased growth and expansion of a population
of initiated and promoted cancer cells from a localised
spot that is a focal lesion to an invasive tumour mass,
accompanied by an increasingly abnormal complement of
the genetic material. DNA damage is wide spread with
loss, breakage and duplication of the multiple chromosomes.
This leads to migration of these cells to distant sites
in the body causing spread to other areas. This is called
13. Can certain types of food cause cancer?
A. Yes, certain foods can definitely cause cancer.
In crops such as maize, which are stored under unsatisfactory
conditions, certain moulds produce chemical substances
called " Aflatoxins", which directly lead
to liver cancer.
14. What is the cause of cancer at the cellular
A. As cancer arises from a single cell, once the abnormal
behaviour of cell starts, the capability of such behaviour
is handed over to the daughter cells and the process
continues. This sudden trigger in the cell behaviour
is responsible for cancerous activity at the cellular
level. This change in behaviour is called as conversion
from benign condition to malignancy.
15. Can psychological factors cause cancer?
A. Greek philosopher and physician Galen suggested
that "melancholy" women are more susceptible
to breast cancer. Psychologists have assessed certain
groups of cancer patients, where they claim that psychological
factors have a bearing on the development of cancer.
The basic cause of cancer is the defective immune system,
its failure to detect and eliminate the abnormal cells.
The immune system does not work on its own, in isolation.
It can be influenced by the central nervous system and
the endocrine system (responsible for the hormonal secretions).
If the person is psychologically affected, it affects
the hormonal status of the body also and hence the immune
system becomes functionally depressed.
For example, bowel cancer affects many people suffering
from Ulcerative colitis later. The probable reason here
may be the psychological factors because Ulcerative
colitis itself leads to psychological depression.
Hence, we can say that though psychological factors
may not directly cause cancer, they play a vital supporting
16. Does Polymeric packaging material cause
A. Many foods and drinks contain traces of chemicals
used in packaging. Migration of these food materials
that are in contact materials can occur during processing,
storage and preparation of food. The polymeric materials
used for packaging are inert, but their monomers like
vinyl chloride and acrylonitrile migrate into foods
and have mutagenic or carcinogenic effects. Traces of
these heavy metals are left in the packages, which migrate
into human body through food, water, etc and can cause
17. Can water cause cancer?
A. Water supplies may contain chlorine, fluoride and
nitrates as residues. Till date the epidemological evidence
on the consequences of exposure to residue of water
borne chlorine and flouride is limited. N-nitroso compounds
formed in the body after consumption of nitrates as
water residue increase the risk of Stomach cancer. Certain
heavy metals and Arsenic even in low levels, tend to
accumalate in human body and cause cancer. Hence, drinking
water and water used for cooking should be pure.
18. How does the use of Tobacco attribute to
the risk of cancer?
A. Tobacco is the chief cause of lung cancer. It is
probably the most important single cause of cancers
of the upper digestive tract which includes mouth, tongue,
throat, eosophagus, etc. Drinkers who also smoke have
increased risk of these cancers. It also contributes
to the cancer of the bladder, pancreas and cervix. Since
oxygen intake gets greatly reduced in case of smokers,
the tendency of the genes to get mutated becomes high,
which over time become malignant or cancerous.
19. What is the link between food preservation and cancer
A. Studies have provided convincing evidence that refrigeration
decreases the risk of stomach cancer, by reducing the
need for salt as a preservative and enabling year round
availability of vegetables and fruits. On the other
hand, refrigerated material kept for too long, increases
the risk of exposure of digestive tract to bacteria
and viruses, thus increasing the risk of related diseases.
20.What are Biomarkers?
A. Analysis of the biological materials such as plasma,
DNA, etc help to improve the understanding of the relation
between food, nutrition and cancer. Biomarkers are biological
indices, which are used to improve measurement of susceptibility
to cancer, precancerous conditions and cancer progression.
In cancer patients, their level indicates the seriousness
and extent of resurgence of cancer.
21. How can cancer be prevented?
A. The most important steps for cancer prevention are:
* Imparting basic education to the common people.
* Giving up the habit of smoking.
* Avoiding early marriages and multiple pregnancies.
* Building up body defence system through proper nutrition
and balanced diets.
* Liberal intake of foods rich in anti oxidants like
vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin E, etc.
* Following proper dietary guidelines.
* Avoiding contact with carcinogens.
* Adopting a simple and natural lifestyle, associated
with fresh air, physical exercise, yoga and natural
22. What are the Dietary Guidelines for cancer
A. The dietary guidelines mentioned by the American
Cancer Society are:
* Choose most of the food you eat from plant sources.
* Include bread, cereals, grain and rice in every meal.
* Limit your intake of high fat foods.
* Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages.