How does cancer kill you?

By Garrett White
Updated 2024-04-10 04:42:33 | Published 2018-12-14 05:46:03
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Cancer cell

The consequences of tumor growth are often life-threatening and depend on various factors and the type of cancer. The most common cause of death is associated infections, such as pneumonia, resulting from tumor-induced immune system suppression. Although this phenomenon is well-documented, the underlying reasons remain unclear.

In cases of leukemia, often incorrectly referred to as “blood cancer,” tumor cells replace normal cells in the bone marrow, impairing their protective functions and leading to decreased immunity and the development of infections. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy further compromise the body's resistance to infections by negatively affecting healthy cells. Acute hemorrhage, blood clots, and pulmonary insufficiency can also contribute to the death of approximately 20% of cancer patients.

Tissue destruction caused by invasion leads to death in about 10% of patients, with some tumors, such as colon cancer, causing severe and potentially fatal anemia due to chronic hemorrhage or constant blood loss. Although popular belief suggests that people “dry out” (cachexia) because of malignant tumors, this is only true in some cases, and it leads to death in only about 1 in 100 cases.

Prostate cancer is the most prevalent among men, largely due to an aging population and improved early diagnostics. Some oncologists believe that all men are at risk of developing this type of cancer, but not all will live long enough for it to manifest. Supporting this view, approximately 80% of men by the age of 80 have prostate cancer. Breast cancer, primarily affecting women but occasionally occurring in men, is the second most common type.

Among gender-neutral cancers, lung cancer is the most prevalent. Colon and rectal cancers are also widespread types of malignant tumors. Lung carcinoma is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, with over 150,000 deaths in the USA in 2010, followed by colon and rectal cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and leukemia, among others. The most common oncological diseases in children are leukemias, brain tumors, and lymphomas.

Pancreatic cancer is notoriously challenging to treat, with only 5% of patients surviving longer than five years. However, lung cancer is the primary cause of cancer-related deaths, mainly due to its prevalence. Malignant brain tumors are also difficult to treat, with patients typically surviving between three months and three years after diagnosis. Metastases treatment for most tumors is generally ineffective.

Some skin cancer types, such as basal cell carcinoma, rarely spread and can be easily cured through surgical removal. As mentioned earlier, Burkitt's lymphoma, predominantly found in Africa, choriocarcinoma, and Hodgkin's disease are relatively easy to treat, with traditional chemotherapy proving effective in these cases. It's crucial to note that many malignant tumors have a high probability of successful treatment at early stages (I-II), particularly breast cancer.

Early detection and timely treatment are vital in the fight against cancer. Regular self-examinations and professional check-ups can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

Garrett White is verified user for iMedix