Our body is made up of billions of cells that can only be seen under a microscope. These cells are grouped together to make up the tissues and organs of our bodies. They are a bit like building blocks. Genes and cancer. There are many different types of cells in the body which do different jobs, but they are basically similar. They all have a centre called a nucleus. Inside the nucleus are the genes. Genes are really bits of code. The information they carry can be switched on or off. The genes control the cell. They decide when it will reproduce, what it does and even when it will die. Normally the genes make sure that cells grow and reproduce in an orderly and controlled way. If the system goes wrong for any reason, the usual result is that the cell dies. Rarely, the system goes wrong in a way that allows a cell to keep on dividing until a lump called a 'tumour' is formed.
Cancers can cause different symptoms in different people because of where they are. A cancer may press on a nerve, or another body organ that is nearby. The place where the cancer starts also affects what treatment can be used because doctors have to take into account the risk of damaging neighbouring organs.
There are about 200 different types of cancer affecting the different body tissues. What affects one body tissue may not affect another. For example, over exposing your skin to the sun could give you a melanoma on your leg. But the sun won't give you lung cancer and smoking won't give you melanoma. Apart from infectious diseases, most illnesses are 'multi-factorial'. And cancer is no exception. Multi-factorial means that there are many factors involved. In other words, there is no single cause for any one cancer.
How a cancer actually goes about growing into normal body tissues nearby is not fully understood. But research has pointed to 3 ways that the tumour is most likely to do this 1) Using enzymes Actively moving through the tissue, 2)A particular tumour will probably use all three of these ways of spreading, 3)Pressure from the growing tumour. Which way is used most will depend partly on the type of tumour, and partly on where in the body it is growing.
How does a cancer spread? In order to spread, some cells from the primary cancer must break away, travel to another part of the body and start growing there. Cancer cells do not stick together as well as normal cells. They also may produce substances that stimulate them to move. But how do cancer cells travel through the body? There are three main ways a cancer spreads 1)Local spread 2)Through the blood circulation 3)Through the lymphatic system.
You may also be asked to have some of these tests as part of your routine follow up once your treatment is over. There is information about more specific tests in the sections on the different types of cancer. You can choose from the following menu
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Ultrasound scan
- Bone scan
- PET Scan
The Treatment by Western Medicine
There are two kinds of tumors: benign and malignant. Benign tumors can be removed completely by surgery. Malignant tumors cannot be handled so easily, for a number of reasons.Benign tumours usually grow quite slowly, do not spread to other parts of the body and usually have a covering that is made up of normal cells. Benign tumours are made up of cells that are quite similar to normal cells. They will only cause a problem if they 1) grow very large 2) become uncomfortable or unsightly 3) press on other body organs 4) are taking up space inside the skull 5) release hormones that affect how the body functions.
Malignant tumours are made up of cancer cells. They 1) usually grow faster than benign tumours 2) spread through and destroy surrounding tissues 3) spread to other parts of the body. It is the ability to spread that makes a cancer dangerous. If a cancer is not treated, it can threaten the organs near to where it started growing. It can also damage other parts of the body by spreading.
If cancerous tissue is removed surgically, there is always the probability of a few hidden cells being left behind, to grow anew. If the cells have spread to distant parts of the body, here is little that anyone can do. On the other hand, cancer is curable if discovered early enough, before it has begun to spread. Not only surgery is employed, but also radiation, either by X-rays or radium, which has the effect of destroying rapidly growing cells. When used properly, therefore, radiation will kill cancer cells but will spare the more slowly growing cells of normal tissue.
Other methods for treating cancer include the use of a number of drugs that act selectively on tumor cells. Chemotherapy is much more effective for some types of tumor growth than for others. Certain combinations of drugs have been found effective in the treatment of leukemia and in some tumors of the lymphatic system. Intensive research is going on in efforts to develop new drugs that will destroy cancer cells with minimal interference with normal body function, and to find more effective combinations of drugs.
The laser, a device that produces a very highly concentrated and intense beam of light, can be used to destroy the tumor, or it can be employed as a cutting device for removing the growth. One important advantage of the laser is its ability to coagulate blood so that bleeding is largely prevented. It should be mentioned at this point that there are all sorts of quack cancer remedies on the market. All are useless, and some may even encourage the growth of cancer cells.
Surgery is one of the main treatments for cancer. It is a local treatment. This means it only treats one particular part of the body. Which is, of course, the part the surgeon operates on. For this reason, surgery is not always offered as a treatment to people whose cancer has spread to another part of their body. They may be offered a systemic treatment such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or hormone therapy instead.
Radiotherapy is treatment using high energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiotherapy can be used 1)To shrink a cancer before surgery 2)To reduce the risk of a cancer coming back after surgery 3)Along with chemotherapy 4)By itself to cure a cancer 5)To control symptoms and improve quality of life when a cancer is too advanced to cure.
Chemotherapy is treatment with anti-cancer drugs. Chemotherapy can be used 1)To shrink a cancer before surgery 2)To reduce the risk of a cancer coming back after surgery 3)Along with radiotherapy 4)By itself to cure a cancer 5)To control symptoms and improve quality of life when a cancer is too advanced to cure
Immunotherapy is the name given to cancer treatments that use the immune system to attack cancers. Sometimes immunotherapy drugs are called 'Biological Response Modifiers' (BRM's) because they stimulate the body to respond biologically (or naturally) to cancer.
- Homone therapy
These are treatments using sex hormones, or drugs that work against these hormones to treat cancer. This type of treatment is only used for particular types of cancer that are called 'hormone sensitive' or 'hormone dependent'. These cancers are 1) Breast cancer 2) Prostate cancer 3) Uterine (womb) cancer
Hormone treatments are also sometimes used for kidney cancer and for melanoma.
- Gene therapy
Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment
A. Complete collection of Chinese herbal medicine that can be used to treat cancer
B. There are altogether five causes summed up by TCM practitioners that can result in cancer:
- Severe stagnation of blood and vita-vapor(qi)
- Phlegm stagnation and dampness accumulation
- Domination of toxin-heat in the body
- Functional disorders of viscera due to comprehensive blood and vita-vapor deficiency
- Blockage of the channels and collaterals
1.One effective herbal medicine formulation used for treating gastric cancer (gastric carcinoma).
Harmonizing Qi and Blood Soup:
curcuma tuber 10g, corydalis tuber 10g, ovate atractylodes root 10g
poria 12g, white peony root 12g, codonopsis root 12g
tangkuei 10g, astragalus root 10g, zedoary 10g
mume flower 6g, licorice root 3g, rice sprout 10g, barley sprout 10g
Notes: this herbal medicine formulation can prolong patients' living time.
2. One effective herbal medicine formulation used for treating esophagus cancer.
Treating Esophagus Cancer Soup:
indigo 3g, saliva root 9g, tangkuei 9g, ocher 12g, bitter orange
tangerine peel 6g, pinellia 6g, saussurea root 3g, rice sprout 12g
lonicera flower 30g, forsythia fruit 9g, bushy sophora root 15g
hedyotis 15g, anomalous artemisia 30g, licorice root 3g
More contents will be supplied soon.......
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