Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WHAT IS CANCER

About cancer We can describe only its appearance and its behavior. No one knows why Hippocrates, two and a half millenniums ago, chose the word crab (cancer) to designate the various tumors and ulcers that came under his observation. Possibly their shape or associated symptoms suggested this particular crustacean to the ancient physician. Suffice it to say that the accumulated evidence of the centuries has taught us that cancer is a new growth of tissue which pursues an impudently independent course, without regard to the rest of the body, has no definite termination of growth, serves no useful purpose, and is ultimately fatal to the individual afflicted with it. The growth kills either by expansion as a single mass, or by infiltration and destruction of normal tissues, or by spreading to various parts of the body to set up similar parasitic growth.

Like other tissues, cancer is composed of living units called cells. These cells, although they may at times appear like normal well-disciplined cells, are "armed-to-the-teeth bandits," as far as the regulatory laws of the body are concerned. Normal body barriers and de- fence mechanisms are shattered under their barrage. These cells invade, replace, and destroy normal tissue precisely like a horde of vandals who ravage the land without thought of future needs and eventually perish, victims of their own destruction. Why these cells behave that way we do not know. Both normal cells and cancer cells can be made to live and grow in culture mediums outside the body. Under such conditions both possess the property of unlimited growth. But if transplanted back into the body from whence they came, the normal cells immediately become obedient to the laws of the body. The cancer cells remain outlaws.

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