Cancer health is the subject of Newberry NOTES this week. Henry Wells, executive director, of the South Carolina Cancer Alliance will discuss current trends of those affected and surviving.
What is cancer?
Cancer is the general name for a group of more than 100 diseases in which cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. Although there are many kinds of cancer, they all start because of abnormal cells growing out of control. Untreated cancers can cause illness and death. Cancer cells can also grow into other tissues, something that normal cells cannot do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell.
Cells become cancer cells because of damage to DNA (DNA is in every cell and directs all its actions.) In a normal cell, when DNA gets damaged, the cell either repairs the damage or the cell dies. In cancer cells, the damaged DNA is not repaired, but the cell doesn’t die like it should. Instead this cell goes on making new cells that the body does not need. These new cells will all have the same damaged DNA as the first cell. People can inherit damaged DNA, but most DNA damage is caused by mistakes that happen while the normal cell is reproducing or by something in our environment. Sometimes the cause of the DNA damage is something obvious, such as skin cancer. It accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the U.S. More then two million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are found in this country each year. Over exposure to ultra violent light from sun and tanning beds are major risk factors for skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in the U.S. More than two million cases of melanoma skin cancer are found in this country each year.
Many of the risk factors are largely influenced by lifestyle. Tobacco is the first thing in lifestyle choices and risks, but being overweight is also a major risk
When someone has cancer, the doctor will find out what kind of cancer and what treatment works for the type of cancer.
For more information call 803-708 -4732 ,S.C. Cancer Alliance organization.
Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.