Cancer

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Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells inside the body. These cells have an abnormal mitotic cycle causing them to grow uncontrollably leading to a disease state.

Causal factors 

There are many different forms of cancer associated with every organ in the body from the extremely rare (heart cancer) to the four most common cancers (prostate, lung, breast (women) and colon). The causal factors in cancer vary wildly from genetic predisposition to environmental carcinogens with the exact make up of these carcinogens being highly disputed, but some are widely accepted as cancer causing. Radiation, environmental toxins, UV, obesity, viruses and chemical carcinogens such as benzene. Equally cancers can be very age specific such as retinoblastoma, which tends to affect the very young. Testicular cancer which tends to affect the 16-25 year old categories and prostate cancer which is a very common in the 60-80 year old category (fig 1 and 2) [1][2].
age specific incidence of cancer in 30-80 year old individuals
Genetically predisposed individuals will often develop cancer more severely and often earlier in life. Whereas people from different ethnic backgrounds can have very different cancer incidence curves. This is due to differential genetics between populations and the lifestyles changes that can be seen between countries (fig 3) [3]. The Japanese populous have higher rates of colon and lung cancer compared to England in the ~ 30 – 70 age category but by 80 England has nearly caught the rate up.
fig 3. incidence of cancer between different ethnic backgrounds
 So as you can see there are many factors and differentials related to cancer and its incidence. Old age cancers can strike in the prime of life and childhood cancers can develop late. It is a worldwide issue of great importance and will continue to be far into the future.
fig 2. Childhood incidence of cancer

References

  1. Dynamics of Cancer: Incidence, Inheritance, and Evolution.Frank SA.Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press; 2007. chapter 2, fig 2.2
  2. Dynamics of Cancer: Incidence, Inheritance, and Evolution.Frank SA.Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press; 2007. chapter 2, fig 2.4
  3. Dynamics of Cancer: Incidence, Inheritance, and Evolution.Frank SA.Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press; 2007. chapter 2, fig 2.21
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