What is Cancer?

By Sari Sabban • 15/04/2013

All of us heard of someone who died of cancer; a family member, a friend or someone in your circles. On T3rf De today, we explain what is cancer and what happens to a human body when it gets affected by cancer. Help us by sharing this article on Twitter and Facebook.

Cancer Cell

Cancer Cell

Cancer is not a novel disease and has been knows to humans for millennia. There are 5000 year old ancient Egyptian documents describing breast cancer [1]. Therefore humans have been struggling with curing this diseases since ancient times.

Epicurus wrote about this disease and called it Cancer (from Carcinos) since it appears with a dark body and veins extending from it like the cancer animal [1]

Epicurus: First to describe cancer | أبيقور: أول من وصف مرض السرطان

As science and technology progressed we have discovered more types of cancer and have classified tumours into Benign (tumours that have not spread yet) and Malignant (tumours that have invaded other tissues).

But as science and technology develops the more we understood the real disease. It is not a disease that comes from a foreign body such as infectious diseases, nor is it a degenerative disease that arises from the deterioration of organs, it is a disease from our own cells and tissues, from our own body. In the end our worst enemy is ourselves.


We humans are made up of cells, neurone cell that make up the brain, digestive system cells, muscles cells, and even though these cells divide and reproduce to replace defective cells in our body, there is a control mechanism that controls their rate of division so the body can maintain a function for each tissue, stable size and metabolism.

Cancer is when a single cell, from any tissue, decides not to abide by the control mechanism and starts to rapidly divide by its own will. Therefore, this cell grows to become many cells forming a tumour. This tumour remains in its tissue of origin before it spreads and therefore is called a Benign tumour. But, the links and connective tissue between cancer cells are weak, therefore each cell has the pap ability to separate from the rest of the tumour, slip into the blood stream to circulate around the body and settle in a new tissue, and there it continues to divide to give hearth to a new tumour. In this case the collective tumours in the body (the cancer) is called Malignant. Of course our immune system is incapable of attacking and killing these cells since relative to what it sees, it sees our own cells.

Many cancer types are symbolized by these ribbons for awareness campaigns. يرمز للعديد من أنواع السرطان بهذه الشرائط الملونة كعلامة لحملات التوعية

Now the big question is; what causes a cell to take a decision and go rough?

There is no simple and definitive answer to this question. Even though we have identified many of the factors that convert a normal cell into a cancerous cell, such as smoking, alcohol, radiation, chemicals and unhealthy diet, the reality of it, cancer arises randomly, and there are cases where cancer has arisen with no clear definitive reason.

For millennia we humans have struggled to protect ourselves from cancer, and until today we have not been able to fully cure it.
But for every disease there is a cure. There are cures for some cancers, most of them are unstable interventions and their efficacy is variable between patients, but collectively most cancers are curable is detected early. Today, a healthy lifestyle, with healthy diet and regular exercise, and the continued care of one’s body by regular medical checkups, are the best preventions of cancer [2][3].
Click here to see the World Health Organisation’s latest updates on cancer prevention: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/
1] Hajdu SI, Thun, MJ, Hannan, LM, Jemal, A (March 2011). “A note from history: landmarks in history of cancer, part 1.”. Cancer 117 (5): 1097–102.
[2] Wicki A, Hagmann, J (September 2011). “Diet and cancer.”. Swiss medical weekly 141: w13250.
[3] Danaei G, Vander Hoorn S, Lopez AD, Murray CJ, Ezzati M (2005). “Causes of cancer in the world: comparative risk assessment of nine behavioural and environmental risk factors”. Lancet 366 (9499): 1784–93.