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Frequently Asked Questions
What causes cancer ?
The are two types of factors contribute to the cause of cancer. One is a tendency or predisposition to develop cancer. The other is exposure to the triggers that start it off. Examples are cigarettes, environmental toxins, sun exposure, or liver damage.
Do we get cancer from what we eat?
Yes and no! The high-fat, low-fiber diet common in developed countries may play a role in about a third of all cancers, but doctors don't know this for certain yet. There are no toxins or chemicals in modern foods that are proved to cause cancer. In fact, the opposite is true. For example, the fact that cancer of the stomach is becoming less common may be because of the way foods are preserved.
Does cigarette smoke really cause cancer?
Yes. Cigarettes cause the vast majority of cancers of the lung. They are a major factor in cancers of the bladder, pancreas, mouth, larynx, esophagus, and kidney.
Can cancer be prevented?
Doctors think a lot of it can. Established preventive methods including not smoking, preventing sun damage, practicing safe sexual behavior, eating a high-fiber, low-fat diet, and having regular Pap tests would reduce the incidence of cancer. It's important to note that many people who develop cancer don't have any known risk factors. But more could probably be prevented if more information was known.
Does conventional treatment work?
In many cases, yes. Surgery is an often successful conventional treatment, as are radiotherapy (after or instead of surgery) and chemotherapy. In addition, conventional treatment can produce remissions in a proportion of cases when cure is not possible. So in some cases it works, and in other cases it does not. Your doctor will be able to explain whether the chance of it working in your own case is high, low, or in-between.
Does chemicals and pollutants cause cancer?
In a very small portion of special cases only. In certain jobs, prolonged exposure to a few chemicals may cause certain rare kinds of cancers. Nowadays almost all of these substances have been identified and are regulated.
Is there universal test for cancer?
Because cancer cells are very similar to normal cells, and a cancer begins with a very small number of cells. In a small number of cancers, certain tests can detect early changes. The best example is cancer of the cervix (the Pap test).
Also, cancer is not one disease but a category of diseases. For example, breast cancer is much different from lung cancer, so tests to detect or diagnose it are different.
Is cancer treatment tolerable ?
Many treatments are very well-tolerated, but treatment is often so awful mostly because cancer cells are only slightly different from normal cells. In this respect, cancers are totally different from, say, bacterial infections such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. Because bacteria are completely different from your body’s cells, antibiotics can kill them and not affect you very much.