Explaining Cancer

When you have to explain what cancer is to someone, it might seem like a daunting task. How can a group of over two hundred ailments be reduced to a few simple words?

A breast cancer cell

When you have to explain what cancer is to someone, it might seem like a daunting task.

How can a group of over two hundred ailments be reduced to a few simple words?

Well, it can. Just say the words “unrestricted cell growth” and you have the fundamental process of all cancers.

Every aspect of our bodies, our bones, our blood and our organs, is made up of cells. All those cells are dividing and renewing for every second of our lives, a process known as Mitosis.

When this goes as normal, the cells divide at the right rate and all is well. When it goes wrong, cells can divide, cluster and then (in some cases) form tumours which are identified as benign or malignant.

If it is malignant, then things get more serious. Much more serious. So, essentially cancer is what happens when cells go wrong. (Hence the title of this website.)

But why do those cells go wrong? That is much more difficult to explain. Some information can be found deep within our DNA, but for now essentially remains a mystery.

Whilst many contributing factors have been identified (e.g. smoking), a cure remains chillingly elusive.

Treatment relies on surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Despite advances in those three disciplines, the mortality rate remains stubbornly high. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2012 around 8.2 million people died from cancer.

Given that I and many others around the world now have a serious form of cancer, it may be a good time to start exploring and explaining.

> WHO information on Cancer
> Find out more about Cancer at Cancer Research UK

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