Cells, the building stones of body, accumulate and form tissues, while organs are formed by tissues. In this cycle, cancer begins at cellular level, not in organs and tissues. In normal circumstances, cells form, grow, divide and create necessary new cells. When they grow and age, they die and are replaced by new ones. In some occasions, this cycle interrupts; body produces too many cells in an uncontrolled manner or old cells do not die when they should. The tissue mass formed by uncontrolled growth of those abnormal cells is called tumor.
WHAT IS ONCOLOGY?
Oncology is the medical discipline that studies tumors. This term is a phrase that is a Latin noun phrase, Oncos(swelling) and logos(science).
WHAT ARE DISCIPLINES DEALING WITH ONCOLOGY?
These are surgical oncology, medical oncology and radiation oncology. This cooperative work enables treatment and closer follow-up of patients. Surgical oncology is very effective in establishing diagnosis of the disease and removing patient’s tumor. Many surgical disciplines are included in this group. (General Surgery, Otorhinolaryngology, Neurosurgery, Thoracic surgery, Orthopedics, etc) After the diagnosis is established, surgical treatment may be followed by anti-cancer medications and radiotherapy, although the latter ones are initially started for inoperable patients. Medication treatment for cancer is managed by Medical Oncology Department (pediatric oncology for pediatric patients), while Radiation Oncology deals with radiotherapy. As it can be understood by those stages, cancer requires multi-disciplinary approach or involvement of more than one medical discipline.
WHAT ARE RISK FACTORS FOR CANCER?
Cancer begins through a series of very complex mechanisms. Recently, cancer is recognized as a genetic disease. This implies that cancer can no means develop unless genetic changes occur in a healthy cell. Development of cancer is a result of sequential carcinogenic effects. Each disorder that is responsible for occurrence of cancer can be corrected by various defense mechanisms. Moreover, our immune system plays an effective role in identifying and eliminating such disorders. Yet, cancer may begin despite all those mechanisms. Primary causative factors include dysfunction of immune mechanisms and failures or insufficiencies in immune system. In conclusion, cancerous cells may find opportunity to grow abnormally and the clinical picture, called cancer, emerges.