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Sr. Executive / Executive, Production; THE IBN SINA PHARMACEUTICAL IND LTD

 
 
 World Cancer Day - February 4, 2011
 
Update: 2011-02-04


World Cancer Day is here again with a new resolution for this year 2011 that is "Teach children and teenagers to avoid UV exposure by being sun smart".

'World Cancer Day' is celebrated every year on 4th February, to increase cancer awareness among people to encourage its prevention, early detection and timely treatment. This campaign was initiated in the year 2005 by the ‘International Union Against Cancer (UICC)' in 2005 in response to the Charter of Paris of 2000. The campaign emphasizes that 40% of cancers can be prevented through these healthy behaviors:
  • Provide a smoke-free environment for children
  • Be physically active, eat a balanced, healthy diet, and avoid obesity
  • Learn about vaccines for virus-related liver and cervical cancers
  • Avoid over-exposure to the sun
Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world. WHO estimates that 84 million people will die of cancer between 2005 and 2015 without intervention. Each year on 4 February, WHO supports International Union against Cancer to promote ways to ease the global burden of cancer. Preventing cancer and raising quality of life for cancer patients are recurring themes. The joint message of UICC, Association of European Cancer Leagues and European Cancer Organization on the occasion is: "Prevention is an important way to reduce the cancer risk. Research highlights that one-third of cancer deaths can be avoided through prevention and another third through early detection and treatment. Thus there is a great need for reinforced political dialogue and better coordination of measures and resources for cancer prevention initiatives in order to combat the cancer burden.
Cancer:
The medical term of cancer is malignant neoplasm. It is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth, invasion that intrudes upon and destroys lymph or blood.
Causes:
Cells are the building blocks of living things. Cancer grows out of normal cells in the body. Normal cells multiply when the body needs them, and die when the body doesn't need them. Cancer appears to occur when the growth of cells in the body is out of control and cells divide too quickly. It can also occur when cells “forget” how to die. 90-95% cases of cancer results from environmental factors and the remaining 5-10% is due to genetics.

The causes are:
  • Carcinogens: Carcinogens are a class of substances that are directly responsible for damaging DNA, promoting or aiding cancer. Tobacco (25-50% death), asbestos, arsenic, radiation such as gamma and x-rays, the sun, and compounds in car exhaust fumes are all examples of carcinogens. When our bodies are exposed to carcinogens, free radicals are formed that try to steal electrons from other molecules in the body. Theses free radicals damage cells and affect their ability to function normally.
  • Lack of exercise and obesity: Obesity contributes to 30-35% cancerous death.
  • Infection:15-25% case of cancer
  • Stress, physical trauma and infection: Chances is very rare.
  • Viruses:Several viruses have also been linked to cancer such as: human papillomavirus (a cause of cervical cancer), hepatitis B and C (causes of liver cancer), and Epstein-Barr virus (a cause of some childhood cancers). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - and anything else that suppresses or weakens the immune system - inhibits the body's ability to fight infections and increases the chance of developing cancer.
  • Hormones: Some hormones cause cancer, primarily by encouraging cell proliferation. Hormones are an important cause of sex-related cancers such as cancer of the breast, endometrium, prostate, ovary, and testis, and also of thyroid cancer and bone cancer.
  • Genetic predisposition: It is possible to be born with certain genetic mutations or a fault in a gene that makes one statistically more likely to develop cancer later in life.
Classification of cancer:
There are five broad groups that are used to classify cancer. These are
  1. Carcinomas are characterized by cells that cover internal and external parts of the body such as lung, breast, and colon cancer.
  2. Sarcomas are characterized by cells that are located in bone, cartilage, fat, connective tissue, muscle, and other supportive tissues.
  3. Lymphomas are cancers that begin in the lymph nodes and immune system tissues.
  4. Leukemias are cancers that begin in the bone marrow and often accumulate in the bloodstream.
  5. Adenomas are cancers that arise in the thyroid, the pituitary gland, the adrenal gland, and other glandular tissues.
Cancers are often referred to by terms that contain a prefix related to the cell type in which the cancer originated and a suffix such as -sarcoma, -carcinoma, or just -oma.
Signs and Symptoms:
Cancer symptoms can be divided into three groups:
  1. Local symptoms: are restricted to the site of the primary cancer. They can include lumps or swelling (tumor), hemorrhage (bleeding from the skin, mouth or anus), ulceration and pain. Although local pain commonly occurs in advanced cancer, the initial swelling is often painless.
  2. Metastatic symptoms: are due to the spread of cancer to other locations in the body. They can include enlarged lymph nodes (which can be felt or sometimes seen under the skin), hepatomegaly (enlarged liver) or splenomegaly (enlarged spleen) which can be felt in the abdomen, pain or fracture of affected bones, and neurological symptoms.
  3. Systemic symptoms: occur due to distant effects of the cancer that are not related to direct or metastatic spread. Some of these effects can include weight loss (poor appetite and cachexia), fatigue, excessive sweating (especially night sweats), anemia (low blood count) and other specific conditions termed paraneoplastic phenomena. These may be mediated by immunological or hormonal signals from the cancer cells.
The following symptoms can occur with most cancers:
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malaise
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
Treatment:
Cancer treatment depends on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer (how much it has spread), age, health status, and additional personal characteristics. There is no single treatment for cancer, and patients often receive a combination of therapies and palliative care. Treatments usually fall into one of the following categories: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, or gene therapy.

Treatment also varies based on the type of cancer and its stage. The stage of a cancer refers to how much it has grown and whether the tumor has spread from its original location.
  • If the cancer is confined to one location and has not spread, the most common goals for treatment are surgery and cure. This is often the case with skin cancers, as well as cancers of the lung, breast, and colon.
  • If the tumor has spread to local lymph nodes only, sometimes these can also be removed.
  • If surgery cannot remove all of the cancer, the options for treatment include radiation, chemotherapy, or both. Some cancers require a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Surgery: Surgery is the oldest known treatment for cancer. If a cancer has not metastasized, it is possible to completely cure a patient by surgically removing the cancer from the body. This is often seen in the removal of the prostate or a breast or testicle. After the disease has spread, however, it is nearly impossible to remove all of the cancer cells. Surgery may also be instrumental in helping to control symptoms such as bowel obstruction or spinal cord compression.

Radiation: Radiation treatment, also known as radiotherapy, destroys cancer by focusing high-energy rays on the cancer cells. This causes damage to the molecules that make up the cancer cells and leads them to commit suicide. Radiotherapy utilizes high-energy gamma-rays that are emitted from metals such as radium or high-energy x-rays that are created in a special machine. Early radiation treatments caused severe side-effects because the energy beams would damage normal, healthy tissue, but technologies have improved so that beams can be more accurately targeted. Radiotherapy is used as a standalone treatment to shrink a tumor or destroy cancer cells (including those associated with leukemia and lymphoma), and it is also used in combination with other cancer treatments.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy utilizes chemicals that interfere with the cell division process - damaging proteins or DNA - so that cancer cells will commit suicide. These treatments target any rapidly dividing cells (not necessarily just cancer cells), but normal cells usually can recover from any chemical-induced damage while cancer cells cannot. Chemotherapy is generally used to treat cancer that has spread or metastasized because the medicines travel throughout the entire body. It is a necessary treatment for some forms of leukemia and lymphoma. Chemotherapy treatment occurs in cycles so the body has time to heal between doses. However, there are still common side effects such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and vomiting. Combination therapies often include multiple types of chemotherapy or chemotherapy combined with other treatment options.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy aims to get the body's immune system to fight the tumor. Local immunotherapy injects a treatment into an affected area, for example, to cause inflammation that causes a tumor to shrink. Systemic immunotherapy treats the whole body by administering an agent such as the protein interferon alpha that can shrink tumors. Immunotherapy can also be considered non-specific if it improves cancer-fighting abilities by stimulating the entire immune system, and it can be considered targeted if the treatment specifically tells the immune system to destroy cancer cells. These therapies are relatively young, but researchers have had success with treatments that introduce antibodies to the body that inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Bone marrow transplantation (hematopoetic stem cell transplantation) can also be considered immunotherapy because the donor's immune cells will often attack the tumor or cancer cells that are present in the host.

Hormone therapy: Several cancers have been linked to some types of hormones, most notably breast and prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is designed to alter hormone production in the body so that cancer cells stop growing or are killed completely. Breast cancer hormone therapies often focus on reducing estrogen levels (a common drug for this is tamoxifen) and prostate cancer hormone therapies often focus on reducing testosterone levels. In addition, some leukemia and lymphoma cases can be treated with the hormone cortisone.

Gene therapy: The goal of gene therapy is to replace damaged genes with ones that work to address a root cause of cancer: damage to DNA. For example, researchers are trying to replace the damaged gene that signals cells to stop dividing (the p53 gene) with a copy of a working gene. Other gene-based therapies focus on further damaging cancer cell DNA to the point where the cell commits suicide. Gene therapy is a very young field and has not yet resulted in any successful treatments.
Prevention:
Cancer prevention is defined as active measures to decrease the incidence of cancer. The vast majority of cancer risk factors are environmental or lifestyle-related, thus cancer is largely a preventable disease. Greater than 30% of cancer is preventable via avoiding risk factors including: tobacco, overweight or obesity, low fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity, alcohol, sexually transmitted infection, air pollution.

Examples of modifiable cancer risk factors include alcohol consumption (associated with increased risk of oral, esophageal, breast, and other cancers), smoking (80% of women with lung cancer have smoked in the past, and 90% of men), physical inactivity (associated with increased risk of colon, breast, and possibly other cancers), and being overweight / obese (associated with colon, breast, endometrial, and possibly other cancers). Based on epidemiologic evidence, it is now thought that avoiding excessive alcohol consumption may contribute to reductions in risk of certain cancers; however, compared with tobacco exposure, the magnitude of effect is modest or small and the strength of evidence is often weaker. Other lifestyle and environmental factors known to affect cancer risk (either beneficially or detrimentally) include certain sexually transmitted diseases (such as those conveyed by the human papillomavirus), the use of exogenous hormones, exposure to ionizing radiation and ultraviolet radiation from the sun or from tanning beds, and certain occupational and chemical exposures.
Celebration of World Cancer Day 2011 in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Cancer Society will observe World Cancer Day-2011 and organize the 22nd annual general meeting and scientific session and cultural program on Saturday, 05 February 2011 at 04.00 pm at Bangabandhu International Convention Centre, Sher-e-Banglanagar, Dhaka. Honorable Minister for Health and Family Welfare Professor (Dr) AFM Ruhal Haque has kindly consented to grace the occasion as the chief guest.

Also a colorful rally will also be held on 4 February 2011 at 9 am from National Museum, Shahbag to National Press Club.

There is an old saying that is ‘Prevention is better than cure’ and Cancer is preventable. Thus let’s all stand together and take an oath to live a healthy life and avoid all the sources that can cause Cancer and educate us and our children about this disease, so that the disease can be detected at its early stage and also can be terminated.
By ASMA AHMED
B.Pharm(North South University)
Research Executive, Viola Vitalis,Bangladesh.


Courtesy:
  • Bangladesh Cancer Society.
  • International Union Against Cancer (UICC)
  • World Health organization (WHO)
 
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