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What is cancer?

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

In Europe, children and young people under the age of twenty rarely get cancer. Of all diseases, cancer is only one percent in childhood and adolescence.
In theory, any cell in the body can break down and become cancer. That is why both adults and children have so many different forms of cancer. Depending on the type of cells, how many and which organs are affected, the disease manifests itself in different symptoms. Different forms of cancer should be treated differently, and the chances of recovery are assessed differently. In some cancer diseases in childhood and adolescence, the mutation of the first cell began, as doctors think, even before the birth of a child.

What is cancer?

What kinds of cancers happen?

If the cancer occurs in the hematopoietic system (bone marrow), then it runs in the form of leukaemia, or if the lymphatic system is affected (e.g., spleen, lymph nodes), then we speak about lymphoma (lymphoma). Since in both cases, the diseases cover the entire body, experts call them systemic (systemic disease). Cancer can also appear as a solid tumor in the internal organs. Depending on what kind of tissue it appeared, it is called sarcoma (from the nervous, connective or supporting tissue, such as bones, cartilage, muscles) or carcinoma (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 cells that have barely begun to mature (undifferentiated), when tissues and organs are in the process of maturation. That is why it is impossible to classify/assign the tumor tissue to a certain type of tissue.

What is cancer?

Typical for cancer cells is that they grow / divide quickly and uncontrollably, regardless of what type of cells or tissue they came from. At the same time, they pass on information to their daughter cells that are dangerous to a healthy body. As a rule, they are unable to perform their own specific purpose/ function. Instead, by penetrating and/or displacing healthy tissue, tumor cells destroy the tissue itself and disrupt its normal function. In addition, cancer cells can leave their place of origin and enter the blood and/or lymphatic system [lymphatic system] into other parts of the body, forming daughter foci (metastases). Therefore, already at the time of the diagnosis of cancer should be assumed that the body has the tiniest daughter tumor foci (so-called micro-metastases), even if they are almost impossible to detect with standard examination methods.

Therefore, it is not enough to treat only the visible tumor. From the very beginning, treatment in parallel should be aimed at invisible metastases, in other words, a systemic [system] treatment is carried out. No matter from which cell the cancer originally appeared, it almost always affects the whole body.

It is because of these properties / qualities, aggressive, dangerous to the whole body, and therefore dangerous to life, cancers are also called malignant.