CANCER: Black to the Greys

There is no plausible way to address the various fair aspects of this world without acknowledging its grim features - the balance that makes both of it humanly perceivable. In our scientific arena, cancer is that grim. It is the black to the grey of life.

What is cancer? Answers to this particular question can range innumerably all owing to how it is perceived. For an economist, it’s the consequential economic loss. For a designer, it’s that one faux pas that went down on the ramp and for a barista it’s the one last cup of coffee he could never get himself upto.

But, for us science junkies- it's the cells that divide without control invading other tissues making home in places not meant to. As simple as it may sound for most part, it’s more complex than it looks.

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. - Joshua J. Marine.

This uncontrolled and undivided cluster of cells- tumors may press, invade and destroy adjoining normal tissues. Cancer is named after the part of the body where it began, and by its appearance under a microscope.

Some cells from such a tumor can travel through the bloodstream, or the lymph system to other areas of the body. Here they may settle and form secondary tumors. This new focus is called metastasis. This still bears the name of the original part of the body where it started. Breast cancer spreading to the lungs is still called breast cancer metastasis.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths, or one in six deaths, in 2018. Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common among women. The pink ribbon is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness. Pink ribbons, and the color pink in general, identify the wearer or promoter with the breast cancer brand and express moral support for women with breast cancer. Pink ribbons are most commonly seen during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Cancer types can be grouped into broader categories. The main categories of cancer include:

  1. Carcinoma – cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.

  2. Sarcoma – cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue.

  3. Leukemia – cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood.

  4. Lymphoma and myeloma – cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system.

  5. Central nervous system cancers – cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.

Over the past few decades, there’s been evidence and research enough to claim that cancer is a form of genetic disease (accumulation of detrimental variation in the genome). This genetic invariability that causes cancer, arises randomly and is a result of not one but a minimum of 6-7 mutations.

The cancer gene is hell bent on proving its point just like Ronaldo was when he lifted his shirt. This cell overcomes - Cell proliferation.

Cell Survival and Cellular Communication

Moreover, all of these recordings of facts and knowledge of the subject is just a testament to how far we’ve come and how much more there is to be done to give this grim a run for its money. From Sidney Farber to David Adams, the drive to overcome the many challenges this alien guest poses has been the reward in itself pertaining to the success we've made so far.

It’s ironic that something this peculiar is too hard to detect and yet is the black to all the greys :)

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