Have you ever wondered why so many people in our midst are being diagnosed with cancer these days? Growing up, we heard about scary diseases like malaria, jaundice, and heart attacks, but cancer was thought to be a rare occurrence. So, have cancer cases suddenly increased, or are better diagnostics now available? There is evidence that cancer-related deaths in India have increased in recent years. But what causes cancer cells to activate in healthy people? Cancer cells are normal cells of the body that transform into a malignant clone due to either an internal abnormality in the body or an external factor that influences the body over time.
These factors cause irreversible damage or change in the cell’s normal DNA.Dr. Wesley M Jose, Clinical Associate Professor, Medical Oncology & Hematology, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, explains the causes of cancer: “Cancer is caused by both internal and external factors.” Internal factors that are commonly encountered include genetic mutation, hormones, immune-related conditions, overactivation and miscommunication of growth factors, and hereditary changes. Lifestyle, smoking, alcohol consumption, chemical exposure, radiation exposure, viral infections, and prior medical treatments with cytotoxic/cancer drugs are examples of external factors.” These factors may act alone or in combination to cause a normal cell to become malignant. Typical risk factors