Cancer a broad over view

It was about 14:00 hrs, and I was just about to take my afternoon nap after a sumptuous meal, when my aunt called frantically requesting me to see her sister. I had to travel right across to city for that so I wanted to postpone it but listening to her voice I sensed something alarming so I went.

I saw this 45+ year lady, Mrs. …….. sitting surrounded by all relative in her room. The minute they saw me, there was all tears and I could sense some tension. I spoke to her. She had noticed a Lump in her breast and was worried.

Now I could understand the situation. I did examine her. And it was CANCER. Breaking the news was not all easy… but I had to do it…………………….That was 4 years ago…..Now aunty is good, always smiling and living life all over again.

What is Cancer ?

CANCER is derived from a greek word “karkinos” meaning CRAB. It is a term used to describe the condition where there is abnormal ,uncontrolled multiplication and growth of cells of a particular type in our body. These rapidly growing cells form a mass and are referred to as TUMOURS. These tumours have a tendency to invade and grow into the surrounding tissues and spread to the other parts of the body. Neoplasms / mass / lumps / growth are some of the synonyms for tumours. These tumours could be either benign or malignant.


Cells grow slowly & do not spread.

Do not invade the nearby tissue.

Do not metastasise.

Recurrence is rare.


Cells grow rapidly & can spread.

Invades the near by tissue.

Does metastasise via lymphatic or blood stream.

Could recur even after complete treatment.

Most of the times when faced with a tumour a good physical examination would help to determine if the tumour is benign or malignant. In addition radiological investigations like X-ray / ultrasound / computed tomography ( C.T. ) / Magnetic Resonance Imaging ( M R I ) helps in characterising the tumour. The accurate diagnosis is usually based on pathological examination either by FNAC ( Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology ) or Biopsy.

There are two main types of Malignant tumours ( Cancers )

  •  Solid tumours : Cancers that arise from various tissues / organs in our body. They could be carcinoma’s ( solid tumours arising from the endothelium or the epithelial layers. Eg. : Breast cancer, Intestinal cancer, Kidney cancer , brain cancer. Sarcoma’s ( Tumours arising form the mesothelial tissue ) Eg. Bone tumours / soft tissue sarcomas.
  •  Liquid tumours : or Haematological malignancies. Cancers that arise from the Blood cells. Eg.: Leukemia / Lympoma. Malignant tumours usually spread through the lymphatic route into the lymph nodes or the hematogenous route ( blood stream ) to the distant organs.

Once cancer is suspected various tests will be done to diagnose it ( FNAC / Biopsy ) and subsequently to see if the disease has spread locally or to the other parts of the body ( USG / CECT / MRI / PET-CT ) Cancer can arise in any tissue of the body. Cancers if detected early can be cured.

“I was leading a very healthy life style but still I got CANCER, Why doctor .” ……………… will answer this question in the next one…!


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