Cancer FAQ


In what ways do cancers vary from one another?

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, which is much too many to cover in this introductory essay. The National Cancer Institute, on the other hand, offers many broad classifications (see list in first section of this article). Mentioned below is an extended version of this list, which includes more particular kinds of cancers seen in each broad group. This list is not exhaustive; tumours listed in quotation marks are the generic names of certain cancers.

Adenomas, melanomas, squamous cell carcinomas, basal cell carcinomas, and papillomas are examples of cancers that begin in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs. Skin cancers include "lung cancer," "colorectal cancer," "pancreatic cancer," "ovarian cancer," and "colorectal cancers."

Sarcoma: Cancer that originates in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supporting tissue — "bone, soft tissue cancers," osteosarcoma, synovial sarcoma, liposarcoma, angiosarcoma, rhabdosarcoma, and fibrosarcoma

Leukemia: Cancer that begins in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes huge numbers of abnormal blood cells to be generated and enter the circulation — "leukaemia," lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL and CLL), myelogenous leukemias (AML and CML), T-cell leukaemia, and hairy-cell leukaemia

Lymphoma and myeloma: Cancers that originate in the cells of the immune system — "lymphoma," T-cell lymphomas, B-cell lymphomas, Hodgkin lymphomas, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and lymphoproliferative lymphomas

Oncologic malignancies of the central nervous system include tumours that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord, such as gliomas and meningiomas, as well as vestibular schwannomas, primary CNS lymphomas, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors. Gliomas are the most common type of brain and spinal cord tumor.

Because metastatic cancer cells usually arise from one of the cell types listed above, they are not included in the above list. The major difference between metastatic cancer cells and the cells listed above is that they are now present in a tissue from which the cancer cells did not initially develop, as opposed to the cells listed above. As a result, when the words "metastatic cancer" are used, the tissue from where the cancer cells originated should be mentioned in order to ensure accuracy. If a patient says they have or are diagnosed with "metastatic cancer" the more correct term is "metastatic (breast, lung, colon, or other type) cancer with spread to the organ in which it has been found." As an additional example, consider the following: When describing a man whose prostate cancer has gone to his bones, a doctor should use the phrase "metastatic prostate cancer to bone." This is more accurate. This is not the same as "bone cancer," which would be cancer that began in the cells of the bone. Metastatic prostate cancer to bone is handled differently from lung cancer to bone.

What experts treat cancer?

A doctor who specialises in the treatment of cancer is termed an oncologist. He or she may be a surgeon, a specialist in radiation treatment, or a medical oncologist. The first utilises surgery to treat the cancer; the second, radiation therapy; the third, chemotherapy and associated therapies. Each member of the team may confer with the others in order to create a treatment strategy for the specific patient.

In addition, depending on where the cancer is situated, other experts may be called in to assist. Ob-gyn specialists, for example, may be engaged in the treatment of uterine cancer, whereas an immunologist may be involved in the treatment of malignancies that arise in the immune system. Your primary care physician and primary oncologist will assist you in determining which experts will be the most beneficial to you as part of your cancer treatment team.

What criteria do doctors use to define the stage of cancer?

There are a variety of various cancer staging techniques available, and the exact staging criteria utilised for each cancer type differs from one another. According to the National Cancer Institute, the following are the common factors included in most staging systems:

The location of the main tumour

Tumor size and number of tumours are important factors to consider

Involvement of lymph nodes (spread of cancer into lymph nodes)

Cell type and tumour grade are important considerations (how closely the cancer cells resemble normal tissue cells)

The presence or absence of metastases is determined by a biopsy.

But there are two major techniques that serve as the foundation for more specialised or individual cancer type staging, and they are as follows: When it comes to solid tumours, the TMN staging technique is utilised almost exclusively, while the Roman numeral or stage grouping method is employed by certain physicians and researchers on almost all cancer types.

The TNM method classifies tumours according to the size of the tumour (T), the degree of tumour spread to the lymph nodes (N), and the existence of distant metastasis (M) on the body surface (M). Each letter has a number appended to it to show the size or extent of the original tumour as well as the degree of the cancer's dissemination (higher number means bigger tumour or more spread).

According to the National Cancer Institute, the TNM staging method is as follows:

Tumor in the primary position (T)

TX - It is not possible to assess the primary tumour.

T0 indicates that there is no indication of a primary tumour.

Carcinoma in situ is a term used to describe a carcinoma that has developed in a specific location (CIS; abnormal cells are present but have not spread to neighbouring tissue; although not cancer, Carcinoma in situ may become cancer and is sometimes called pre-invasive cancer)

the size and/or extent of the main tumour is represented by the letters T1, T2, T3, and T4.

lymph nodes in the regional lymph nodes (N)

NX - It is not possible to assess regional lymph nodes.

N0 - There is no involvement of regional lymph nodes.

Affected lymph nodes in the area (number of lymph nodes and/or amount of dissemination) are classified as N1, N2, and N3.

Metastasis that has spread far and wide (M)

MX - The presence of distant metastases cannot be determined (some clinicians do not ever use this designation)

M0 - There are no distant metastases.

M1 - There is evidence of distant metastases.

As a result, a person's cancer might be classified as T1N2M0, which indicates that it is a tiny tumour (T1) that has migrated to some regional lymph nodes (N2) but has not progressed to distant sites (M0) (M0).

In situ: Abnormal cells are only found in the layer of cells in where they first appeared; they are not found elsewhere.

Cancer that has been localised means that it has been contained to the organ in which it started and has not spread.

Regional cancer refers to cancer that has progressed beyond the original location to lymph nodes, organs, and tissues in the surrounding area.

Cancer that has progressed from the original site to distant organs or distant lymph nodes is referred to as distant cancer.

unknown: The stage cannot be determined since there is not enough information available.

The staging of cancer is important because it aids the physician in determining the most effective therapeutic protocols for the patient, provides a basis for estimating the patient's prognosis (outcome), and serves as a system for communicating the patient's condition to other health professionals who become involved in the patient's care.

What cancer therapy alternatives are available?

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Cancer therapy is determined by the kind of cancer and the stage at which it is discovered. When the surgeon removes the tissue for biopsy, it is possible that the cancer may be completely removed, allowing for diagnosis and treatment to occur at the same time in certain patients.

Even while each cancer patient receives a customised sequential treatment plan, or protocol, for their cancer, the majority of treatments include one or more of the following components: surgery, chemotherapy (including targeted therapies), radiation therapy, or a combination of these treatments (a combination of two or all three treatments).

Individuals get a variety of cancer therapies that are tailored to their needs. Patients with malignancies that cannot be cured (fully eliminated) by surgery are often treated with a combination of drugs, the composition of which is dictated by the kind and stage of the disease.

Similarly, to the therapies mentioned above, palliative therapy (medical care or treatment used to relieve illness symptoms but which is unable to cure the patient) makes use of the same treatments described above. It is done with the goal of extending and improving the quality of life of cancer patients who are nearing the end of their lives. There are many additional palliative therapies available to alleviate symptoms, including as pain relievers and nausea-reducing medicines.



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