Not only do we hear more about cancer today than in the past, but the harm caused by cancer to humans is increasing more and more. However, throughout recorded history, cancer has been recorded not only in humans but also in other animals. Among the earliest evidence of cancer are bone tumors found in ancient fossils, cancer found in mummified human corpses in Egypt, and cancer written in ancient records. Thus, it is clear that cancer is not a new disease.

In the year 2020 alone, 19.3 million new cancer cases were diagnosed worldwide, and the number of people who died from cancer in that year is around 10 million. Breast cancer in women has become one of the most common cancers in the world. Previously, lung cancer was the first, and now it has been pushed to second place in terms of cancer prevalence. After that, colon and rectal cancer, prostate cancer and stomach cancer occur in descending order. However, lung cancer still accounts for the highest cancer deaths worldwide, accounting for 1.8 million in 2020. The next leading causes of cancer deaths were colon and rectal cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer and breast cancer.

How cancer develops is a big question for many people. Some people think that cancer is caused by a fault in the genes they inherited from their mother and father. It means that they got the cancer-causing genes directly from them. Cancers that occur like this are less than 10%. One reason for people thinking that way is that cancer is a genetic disease. However, about 90% of cancers are caused by changes or mutations in genes that happen after conception.

Many factors contribute to the development of cancer-causing genetic mutations. Most mutations can occur randomly. When the cells of the body divide to make daughter cells, random mistakes can happen in this manner as the DNA is divided and given to the daughter cells. But cells have a very complex system of correcting these mistakes. As you age however, this process weakens. Another cause of genetic mutations that leads to cancer is the exposure of genes to certain factors in the environment outside the body or in the body’s internal environment. Accordingly, about 1/3 of all cancer deaths are caused by some form of tobacco use (cigarettes, use with betel leaves, etc.), obesity, alcohol use, eating fewer fresh fruits and vegetables, and less exercise. About 30% of cancers in the world’s poor countries are caused by cancer-causing viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoan infections.

There is a chance to avoid cancer. There are two main methods for that. One is to follow good health habits to prevent cancer. Not consuming tobacco and alcohol, maintaining a body weight appropriate for the height, exercising regularly, and eating more fruits and vegetables are some of them. The other method is to prevent the development of cancer by identifying the initial changes in the body when cancer occurs and treating it properly.

In addition, 1/3 of other cancers can be detected and treated properly before they spread. Unfortunately, the last 1/3 of the cancers are not curable. The reason for this is sometimes the form of cancer being dangerous or the difficulty of proper treatment due to factors such as the age of the cancer patient, other medical conditions, etc.

වෛද්‍ය ශාමා ගුණතිලක
MBBS (කොළඹ) MD (කොළඹ) SLMC ලියාපදිංචි අංක 17334,
උපදේශක සායනික ඔන්කොලොජි
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