By Sanjana Vadapalli
Many diseases cause countless deaths and cancer is one of them. Cancer, a killing machine in disguise, occurs when some of the cells in the body divide without stopping and unfurl into various tissues nearby. In a properly functioning body, new cells form as needed, replacing old, dead cells. However, sometimes new cells form uncontrollably and old cells do not die. These extra cells clump together to produce something called a tumor, which manifest into either benign or malignant forms. The benign tumors must be treated, but do not necessarily result in cancer. Meanwhile, malignant tumors can develop into cancer tumors. Cancer - abnormal cell growth - is very harmful to a human body and can cause death once in later stages, if not treated early. Therefore, one major option for treatment is cancer screening.
Cancer screening can save lives. If citizens routinely screen for cancer, they can detect a tumor at an earlier stage. However, the later it becomes, the chances of survival become slimmer as well. For example, according to the Canada Newswire, when small cell lung cancer was treated during stage 4, the survival rates were 1% to 5%. However, when they were treated at stage 1, the survival rates were significantly higher from 68% to 92%. Additionally, cancer screening aids detection, which is when there is a cancer tumor that is non-palpable. Non-palpable cancer tumors increase the risk of missing the presence of cancer, because you can’t feel any unusual pain or difference in your usual daily basis. For example, breast cancer is one type that may not be felt. Early detection from cancer screening can help to enhance one’s chance of survival.
Though cancer screening can help, there may also be some unanticipated consequences. Falsely interpreted screening results can lead to overtreatment, which can cause a lot of unnecessary care and radioactivity. Screening also involves being exposed to radiation which can cause fatigue and other side effects, especially in children. When certain parts of the body are exposed to this radiation, some side effects that could occur are cataracts, secondary cancers, hearing problems, eye problems, thyroid problems, etc.
Children and adults alike can acquire cancer, and as one grows older, they are more susceptible to abnormal cell growth. When statistics are looked at, it is clear that half of all cancers happen at the age of 66 or higher, but what is the scientific reason behind this? The answer lies in something that many are exposed to without a second thought. Adults have a higher risk than youngsters because they are exposed to carcinogens - a substance or radiation that can encourage the formation of cancer cells - longer, such as sunlight, radon, and chemicals in the environment. Cancer tumors can also occur as pure accidents when a cell’s DNA is copied. Therefore, the longer one lives, the more likely an accident will happen. As a whole, as people get older, their risk of getting cancer is higher.
Though cancer is more frequently found in adults, it is still quite deadly in children. There are over 300,000 kids across the world that get cancer every single year. In the U.S. only, 1 in every 285 kids are diagnosed with cancer before they reach the age of 20. The most common cancers found in children are leukemia, brain cancer, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, bone cancer, Wilms tumor, and retinoblastoma. These cancers attack the blood, brain, lymph nodes, nerve tissue, bones, kidney, and a part of the eye called the retina. Though scientists and doctors have worked hard to treat cancers, there are still some that have a 100% death rate. As a result, it is of utmost importance for cancer research to continue and, hopefully soon, a cure can be found.
Cancer is relentless when attacking the human body. When a tumor manifests, it can spread to other parts of the body, if not treated quickly. This is where screening comes into play. Though there may be some side effects, screening can help to detect a cancer that is not palpable and can detect cancers in the elderly and the young. It is more likely that a cancer will develop as one ages. This is because you have more time exposed to carcinogens, such as sunlight. Cancers are more likely to appear in adults, but, at times, they still do show up in children. Some childhood cancers are more deadly than others, and some can be treated, but there is still no cure for the disease, which is why cancer research is vital to all cancer patients. As Stuart Scott - a former cancer patient - says, “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”