“Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” - Anonymous

According to the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research, around 2.5 million people are living with the disease and about 7 lakh new cancer patients are registered every year.

Finding out that you have cancer can stir feelings in you of shock, anger, fear and sadness. It’s hard in the beginning to think about anything else but your diagnosis. It’s probably weighs on you the first thing in the morning and stays with you throughout the day. But it is important to remember that with advancements in medicine, cancer can be treated well for many people. And more people than ever before are leading full lives after the treatment.  

Any treatment plan begins with knowing what you are up against. We at Papillon ChemoCare strongly believe that understanding cancer can help you and your loved ones cope better with it. We hope the information in this article will answer the questions you are having.

Cancer is not just one disease but a group of diseases that are characterised by out of control cell growth. There are over 100 different types of cancer based on where it starts and what cells are affected. Cancer can start anywhere- in the lungs, in the blood, in the breasts, in the ovaries or in the mouth.

Normal cells in our body perform certain functions. They divide in an orderly manner, die when they are worn out or damaged and new cells take their place. Cancer occurs when cells start to grow out of control and do not die when they should. They keep growing and making new cells, crowding out normal cells. They make it hard for normal cells to their job, causing problems in the part of the body where the cells are affected.

Most cancers form a lump called a tumour. However, not all lumps are cancer.  Doctors will do a biopsy by taking out a piece of the tumour and examining it. If the lump is not a cancer, it is called benign; if it is, it is called a malignant.

Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.  When cancer cells spread it is called metastasis. For instance, cancer cells in the lung can spread to the bones and grow there. The cancer spread to the bones will still be called lung cancer because it started there.

Different cancers grow and spread differently. They also respond differently to treatments. There are primarily three different types of treatments available for cancer - surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery is the removal of some or all of the affected body part and works for cancers like breast and prostate. Chemotherapy (or chemo) uses drugs given via IV or pills to kill cancer cells or slow their growth and is effective for cancers that have spread. Radiation destroys cancer by using high-energy rays on the cancer cells. Choosing a treatment depends on what your cancer responds to and what stage it is at. Often, 2 or more treatments are used to get the best results.

Talk to your doctor openly about your treatment options. Your health and what treatment you prefer is also an important factor in determining the course of your treatment. And as it is commonly known, there are side-effects of cancer treatments. Ask your doctor about them as it will help you prepare in dealing with them. Simple steps in dealing with side-effects of treatment, like a suitable diet for the nausea and stomach problems or exploring alternatives for hair loss like buying hats and scarves or a wig can help you cope better with your treatment and help your healing process.