The term cancer covers a large group of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells, which divide, grow and spread uncontrollably in any part of the body.
Normal cells divide and die over a programmed time. However, cancer cells or tumors “lose” the ability to die and divide almost indefinitely. Such doubling of the number of cells forms a mass called a “tumor” or “neoplasm,” which can destroy and replace normal tissue in its expansion.
Type of cancer
From a strict perspective, we can define as many types of cancer as patients. Certain molecular and cellular changes, but synthetically are grouped according to the tissue that gave rise to them:
- Carcinoma. It is a cancer that originates in epithelial cells. These cells line the surface of an organ, gland, or body structure. They represent more than 80% of all cancers, including the most common lung, breast, colon, prostate, pancreatic, and stomach cancers.
- Sarcoma. They are cancers that form from connective or connective tissue, from which muscle, bone, cartilage, or fat tissue originates. The most common are bone sarcomas.
- Leukemia. They are cancers that originate in the bone marrow, the tissue responsible for maintaining the production of red and white blood cells and platelets. Changes in these cells can produce, respectively, anemia, infection, and coagulation disorders (bleeding or thrombosis).
- Lymphoma. They develop from lymphatic tissue, such as those found in lymph nodes and organs.
The basic symptoms of cancer?
- A lump or area of thickening that can feel be under the skin.
- Weight changes, including unwanted gain or loss.
- Skin changes, such as yellowing, darkening, or redness of the skin, sores that don’t heal, or changes in existing moles.
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits.
- Persistent cough or difficulty breathing.
How is it diagnosed, and what does it look like?
Thanks to population screening or screening techniques, more and more tumors are detected at an early stage without causing symptoms, resulting in much better outcomes.
Manifestations stemming from the presence of a tumor can vary widely, from a rapidly growing lump, a persistent cough or hoarseness, or gastrointestinal bleeding. It should bear in mind that most of these signs or symptoms are common with other (generally milder) diseases. Therefore, depending on the symptoms, we will perform certain tests to make a diagnosis.
Generally, differential diagnosis (assessing the possible cause of a symptom or sign) will begin with a history (medical history) and physical examination. Next, it may require an analytical investigation and some imaging tests, such as an X-ray or a scanner. Sometimes the results may indicate its presence, such as a breast lump on examination or mammography, a lung mass on X-ray, or an elevated tumor marker.
However, histological confirmation is very important for a particular diagnosis, carried out by a pathologist who analyzes the tumor under a microscope. For this, a tumor tissue sample should always be extracted and analyzed by procedures such as puncture aspiration or biopsy. Incredibly, as can occur with some hepatocarcinoma or brain tumors, it can ignore the pathological diagnosis.
Common Cancer Treatment Options
- Blood & Marrow Stem Cell Transplant
- Chemotherapy can cure or control cancer or help relieve your symptoms.
- Immunotherapy is a new form of cancer treatment that uses the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells.
- Interventional radiology involves minimally invasive techniques using needles and catheters and offers an alternative to surgery for some patients.
- Radiation therapy to treat cancer – Radiation therapy can kill or prevent tumors from returning. It can be used alone as a single treatment or in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, or both treatments.
Nanomedicine, what is it, and how does it fight cancer?
Nanomedicine, or the application of nanotechnology in the health sector, offers many benefits for improving patient care. Nanotechnology is used to develop new techniques that improve the quality of life of cancer patients. This type of therapy aims to prevent, diagnose and treat disease more effectively because it primarily aims at diseased tissue without damaging the healthy part, an advance in personalized medicine.
How can nanotechnology help fight cancer?
The application of nanotechnology in new treatments for cancer has been a breath of fresh air in relentless research that never seems to achieve definite results. It seems incredible that in the 21st century, we continue to lose family and friends to crimes like this or see ourselves fighting this battle, but it gives us an idea of how formidable this opponent is to those he has touched. Therefore, all research assistance is meager, and the whole community has highly appreciated the incorporation of nanotechnology against cancer in laboratories and treatments.
It is one of the upcoming treatment options for cancer and the most promising action today, though not the only one. The possibilities offered by advances in nanotechnology against cancer are tremendous, and most importantly, they give us a lot of hope.