The low-down on cancer
Posted on 10 August 2012
Meet our expert Dr André Dreyer, an oncologist at Mediclinic Panorama.
What causes cancer?
Some of the causes include:· Genetics. Some people are born with the lack of a cancer suppressor gene, or with genetic material that leads to an increased division of cells. This leads to cancer in children.
• Low-grade viral infection can lead to an increased division of cells too, and mixed with breakages in genetic material, a lymphoma or lymph-gland cancer can form.
• Toxins like tobacco and long-term irritation like a broken tooth can lead to mouth cancer.
• The constant ebb and flow of female hormones through the menstrual cycle can promote breast cancer.
Once there is a problem with the genetic material, circumstances can promote the faster growth of cancers. Extra male hormone, for example, would stimulate a slow-growing prostate cancer to grow faster.
Why do some cancers stay localised and why do others spread or metastasize?
A low-grade cancer is more similar to normal cells and creates localised havoc, rather like a toddler in the home, while high-grade cancers actively move into the blood stream and create havoc elsewhere too, as a student might. While some cancers are known for a good prognosis, like thyroid cancer, for instance, others are known for their aggression.
Can I prevent cancer?
There are things you can do to play it safe:
• avoid excessive sunburn
• don’t smoke
• lead a healthy lifestyle, with a good diet and exercise regime
All of these can reduce your chances of cancer, but don’t feel as though you failed your body if a cancer slips through your defences. Early detection can be a vital tactic to limiting cancer’s attack.