What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease that begins with a mutation, when the body cell (somatic cell, that is, not the sex cell) begins to divide / grow uncontrollably. Normal body cells work on their internal clock with a working mechanism. These internal clocks regulate, for example, at what point a cell divides, grows and matures, grows old and / or dies, that is, all those natural processes that make up the cell’s life cycle-the so-called cell cycle. In the cancer cell, this regulation mechanism is damaged.

In Europe, children and young people under the age of 20 rarely get cancer. Of all the diseases, cancer is only one percent in childhood and adolescence.
Theoretically, any cell of the body can collapse and become cancerous. That is why in adults and children there are so many different forms of cancer. Depending on the type of cells, the number and what organs are affected, the disease manifests itself in various symptoms. Different forms of cancer should be treated differently, and the chances of recovery are also assessed in different ways. In some cancers in childhood and adolescence, the mutation of the first cell began, according to doctors, even before the birth of the child.

Good to know: Cancer in young people under the age of 20 years in Europe is very rare. This is only 1% of all diseases in children and adolescents.

If the cancer occurs in the hematopoietic system (bone marrow), it proceeds in the form of leukemia, or if the lymphatic system is affected (for example, the spleen, lymph nodes), then talk about lymphoma (lymphoma). Since in both cases the diseases cover the entire body, specialists call them systemic (systemic disease). Cancer can also manifest as a solid tumor in the internal organs. Depending on the tissue in which it originated, it is called sarcoma (from degenerate nervous, connective or supporting tissue, for example, in bone, cartilage, muscle) or carcinomas (mutated cells on the surface / walls of organs or glands). In addition, embryonic (embryonic) tumors are quite common in childhood and adolescence, they are called blastomas. They arise from completely immature cells or from the barely begun maturation of cells (undifferentiated), when tissues and organs are at the stage of maturation. Therefore, the tumor tissue can not be classified and not associated with any specific types of tissue.

Typical for cancer cells is that they quickly and uncontrollably grow / divide regardless of what type of cells or tissue they originate from. At the same time, they pass on information to their daughter cells, which are dangerous for a healthy organism. As a rule, they are not able to perform their own specific function / function. Instead, by penetrating into healthy tissue and / or displacing it, In addition, cancer cells can not leave their place of origin and enter the vessels of the blood and / or lymphatic system in the other parts of the body, forming daughter foci (metastasis). Therefore, even if it is almost impossible to detect them using standard survey methods .

Therefore, it is not enough to consider only the visible tumor. From the outset, treatment should be directed in parallel with invisible metastases, in other words, systematic [systemic] treatment is performed. Regardless of which cell the cancer originally appeared, it almost always affects the entire body.

It is because of these properties / qualities, aggressive, dangerous for the whole organism and, therefore, life-threatening cancers, also called malignant.

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