Spanish Flag      Italian Flag     Flag UK US      French Flag     zhongwen
International Health Cover > Resources  > Health and Safety Articles >  What is Cancer ?

What is Cancer?


The importance of Cells

It is not easy to explain in simple words what cancer is. The human body is made up of basic units called cells. Examples are blood cells, nerve cells or neurons, muscle cells, liver cells and epidermal or skin cells.
Cells are the smallest biological units capable of life by themselves: normal cells can be born, grow, reproduce by dividing themselves into two identical daughter cells, specialize in various functions, get older and ultimately die. But sometimes something goes wrong.

Sometimes it happens that a cell frees itself from this strictly controlled life cycle: it doesn't specialize in any particular function, doesn't get older and doesn't die, but remains young and continues reproducing itself, forming a mass of cells with the same characteristics and proliferative potential of the initial cell.
These are called cancer cells, while the mass they form is called a tumor.
It is not clear why, at a certain point of its life, a normal cell transforms itself into a cancer cell. A variety of factors may come into play, including viruses, pollution, radiations, chemicals, dietary contaminants, as well as family history and genetic factors. However in most cases it is impossible to trace the specific cause of cancer. That's why the diagnosis of cancer only considers the location and behaviour (benign or malignant) of the tumor, as well as the type of cells forming it, without however specifying the cause.

Benignity and malignity of tumours

The severity of a cancer depends on the location and extent of the tumor mass, as well as on the benignity or malignity of the cancer cells forming it. It is important to distinguish between benign and malignant tumors, as this affects both the treatment protocol and the chance of a successful cure. Benign tumors are generally asymptomatic, painless and slow growing. They usually remain localized to their site of origin and are well demarcated from the surrounding normal tissue, so they can be removed by surgical excision.
On the contrary malignant tumors are characterized by an uncontrolled, unpredictable growth of cancer cells that may invade nearby tissues as well as spread to distant organs through the bloodstream. As malignant tumors grow larger, they gradually compress and destroy the tissues in which they grow, thereby often causing pain.

The treatment of malignant tumors is often a challenge.
It may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of the three. But this is not always curative, because many malignant tumors tend to recur after treatment. In addition, patients affected by cancer often require pain management, as well as psychological support since most of them see cancer as a death sentence. And this is not surprising. The word "cancer" frightens everyone.

New hope from research

Although to date a definite cure for cancer has not been yet developed, fortunately the research in this field is very active and will probably produce great results in the near future.
Treatment of cancer may be very expensive for patients and their families. That's why it is advisable to be covered by an appropriate health insurance plan.

 If you would like to cover yourself or your relatives from medical issues such as cancer you may ask us for advice choosing a comprehensive Medical Insurance.


 International Health Cover is a global international Health care coverage advisor. We have developped excellent relationship with prime International medical isurance providers. We  can guide you and your family in the choice of your Health insurance providing you with freea  comprehensive solution of International Health Insurance plans.

If you wish to receive a free quotation, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our quotation  is 100% free.

*Always seek professional medical advise from a qualified doctor before undergoing any treatment.