^ NK cell in action^
What is cancer? Where did it come from? Is it really a new disease?
These are some of the many questions people have about cancer. There are many different kinds of cancer so my explanation does not apply to all of them and if you have cancer I very sorry and you may know more about your particular kind of cancer than I do. About the origins, it's uncertain if it is a brand new disease or was misunderstood in the past. In the past it seems that there were almost no cases of cancer at all.
Generally a cancer is unregulated cell growth. Cell's grow, divide, and die... that's about it. In order for everything to be running smoothly you need certain cells, called NK (natural killer) cells that target and destroy certain cells that are too plentiful. This is because too many cells is a very bad thing, they take up the place of which should be other cells or newer cells. Now NK cells aren't the only thing that keep cells numbers from getting out of control, most cells die naturally without being destroyed, the average red blood cell has a lifespan of 3-4 months.
The term cancer refers to an uncontrolled growth of cells. These cells continuously divide without any means of keeping their numbers in check. This is not normal body function, obviously, and the causes for cancer are numerous and unknown. There are of course things that increase your risks of getting cancer and these tend to be an increase in what are called mutagens. Mutagens is just a broad term for things we know, or think, that cause cancer. If you were to look at a graph of how an increase in mutagens correlates to the increased chance of cancer you would see it grows exponentially. This means the more mutagens the greater the chance, not on a 1:1 ratio, but more like 1:10 (these are not actual figures, just an example of exponential growth).
Very little is known about cancer, but there have been great advances recently. Some believe many cancers can be deterred naturally and a diet containing antioxidants may help this. During treatment the mystery really begins because some patients that undergo no treatments at all can fight off cancer naturally, while others require multiple treatments and for some no treatments seem to work. Textbook: case understood, Field: no f**king clue. The first person to completely understand cancer will cure it and will make more money than anyone ever, that is if they market it properly.