B2007: What Is Cancer?

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It’s hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard off let alone been affected by cancer in some way. However, as much as we have heard of cancer, a lot of us still don’t know what it really is. Well now you’re about to find out.

Cancer is quite simply a genetic disease which results in the abnormal growth of the same cells. As the cells multiply exponentially (2 -> 4 -> 8 -> 16), they eventually form a mass of cells which is called a tumour. That’s where all the problem starts as the tumour begins to aggressively displace the healthy cells in the body and affects the normal bodily functions.

It’s that simple. What cancer isn’t though is this:

  1. It isn’t a nutritional problem.
  2. It isn’t a contagious disease.
  3. It isn’t an act of God sent to punish you for your sins.

As the Blogathon wears on, I’m going to explain it in a series of short but concise posts. After all, I am going to do this for 24 hours straight. Writing down facts for that long is not exactly the easiest thing in the world.

This year Footsteps in the Mirror will be blogging to raise money for the Association for International Cancer Research which is a non-profit organisation that helps fund cancer research throughout the world. If you’re willing to help, you can sign up on the Blogathon website and pledge your amount right here. Help make a difference, no matter how small it may be.

17 thoughts on “B2007: What Is Cancer?

  1. I find your information largely incorrect-cancer is a disease of DAMAGED genes. Nutrition is an enormous factor regarding the prevention of damaged genes. In a way cancer can be contagious. The virus that contributes to cervical cancer can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. This is why Catholic nuns have never had this disease. Where in the world do you get your info? It must be The American Cancer Society.

  2. Damaged genes result in genetic diseases. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re born with it. Mutation occur in your body everyday regardless of your diet. This is why the older yo get, the more likely you will get cancer Strict dietary intake being a major factor to preventing cancer is a myth. So is nutrition being a cure as well, it’s a myth. I will explain this further in the series.

    HPV causes genetic damages to the cell which results in cancer. The cancer itself is not contagious. Again, I will talk about this more later in the series.

    No, everything I write about here comes from the textbooks and notes I study from as a medical scientist, not a bunch of words cobbled together from websites.

  3. Cancer? Contagious? Sorry to sound like a smart ass, but where did you get that idea from??? HPV infections is one of the causes of cervical cancer, but… having a HPV infection doesn’t mean you will develop cervical cancer, neither does the absence of an infection mean you will not develop it. (Unless you don’t have a cervix, that is…)

    I’m not going to go into crazy medic talk… too late in the night for it. heehee…

  4. Hmm….if I remember correctly, normal human has HPV but they don’t develop any disease from that because they are inactive (or was it called something else, I cant remember).

    Crap…I’ve forgotten the stuff I learnt already.. lol. Probably by saying that cancer is not contagious can be a bit ambiguous… and is debatable, depending on how you look at it.

  5. If we all had HPV, we’d be screwed. HPV produces proteins which eventually causes mutations. Because of the unique nature of the cervix, it’s susceptible to this effect. HPV is also attributed in prostate and breast cancer but those are under study for now.

    What you might be thinking is cold sores and how the virus becomes dormant. If that is true then it means you need to have been infected with HPV in the beginning and it’s transmittable which is bad for your partners.

    Lastly. What we’re establishing here is that HPV is contagious. Cancer itself is not. That’s not up for much debate.

  6. Yeah, the word is dormant. LoL.. I’m not entirely sure about the thing about HPV (couldn’t find the notes about it either). I just thought I remember my lecturer said something like HPV may actually be dormant in healthy human beings and go undetectable or something like that. Again, just take this as a pinch of salt as neither my lecturer nor I can confirm this.

    As for the debate on whether cancer is contagious, well some people (like jeanruss) might argue that because HPV infection is contagious (by sexual intercourse) and almost 100% of cervical cancer is caused by HPV, hence cervical cancer is contagious.

  7. Matters of perspective isn’t science and cervical cancer isn’t 100% attributed to HPV.

    That’s why I’m doing this, to clear up misconceptions.

  8. Like I’ve said, close to 100% of all cervical cancer cases are linked to HPV viral infection, ie if you are a female, you don’t get cervical cancer if you don’t have the virus.

  9. That’s what I’m trying to say. You can still get cervical cancer without HPV. Chances are lower, but it still happens. You can’t ignore the percentage no matter how small it is. Science doesn’t work that way.

  10. Ah, I see what you mean. If I am not mistaken, the remaining % (maybe like 0.001% or something) is thought to be caused by unknown strain of HPV.

    I do agree with you that we can’t ignore the small chance. Even if we have a drug that can kill 99.999% of cancer cells in 10^6 cells, we still have 50% of tumour cells remaining.

  11. Rephrase my last sentence. It should be:
    “Even if we have a drug that can kill 99.999% of cancer cells in 10^6 cells, the remaining 10 cancer cells can still divide rapidly to give you 50%-100% of the initial amount of cancer cells.”

    I can’t seem to explain things properly..crap. LoL.

  12. A friend of mine who is a doctor said that recently there’s this jab that we can take to get ourselves immune to the HPV or something. I forgot her exact words, which were spoken on our way to Chiang Mai on July 20th. If I’m not mistaken, the jabs must be taken in 3 doses, and each dose costs about RM 900. Apparently, medical officers in Malaysian government are given discounts..

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