Why does cancer kill? How does it kill?

Posted in the Cancer Forum

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spanky

United States

#1 Jan 27, 2009
In all the articles I've read, not one single one has explained why cancer is deadly...they only explain what cancer it...

I know bombs are deadly due to the heat and shrapnol, a bomb tears apart human flesh and one bleeds to death or is torn apart...

But how does cancer kill? Ye, I know cells divide uncontrolably...but how or why is that deadly to the body?

Can someone explain?
spanky

United States

#2 Jan 28, 2009
Good heavens, no one has answered this question yet...why does or how does cancer kill?
Dr-BMC

Islamabad, Pakistan

#3 Feb 17, 2009
Firstly, it is important to say that not all cancers kill you. Overall, more than 50% of people diagnosed with cancer live for more than 5 years. Some cancers have survival rates of more than 90%. Secondly, cancer at an early stage does not kill you. So, a lot of effort is put into early diagnosis so that treatment is much more likely to be effective.
The way in which cancer can cause death varies and there is no single answer to this question. The answer really depends on the type of cancer and the parts of the body affected by the cancer.
Some types of cancer can spread to take over part of the body that carries out an essential function. For example, if a cancer is growing in part of the digestive system, it can prevent the digestion and absorption of food. It can block the digestive system so that food cannot go through the intestines. If food cannot pass through, then nutrients from the food can't be absorbed.
If cancer affects the lungs, then eventually there is not enough healthy lung tissue to allow enough oxygen to be absorbed into the body to keep you alive. Or the cancer can block off part of the lung. This part then collapses and often becomes infected. A person with an advanced cancer does not always have the strength to fight off such an infection, even with strong antibiotics, and so the infection can eventually lead to death.
If the cancer has spread to the liver or the bones, this can upset the body's delicate chemical balance. The human body has very finely balanced limits of certain body salts and chemicals. For example, there has to be a certain amount of calcium in the blood. If the calcium levels go up or down it upsets the whole chemical balance. If cancer cells are in some of the bones in the body, a lot of calcium may be released into the blood stream.
Normally the body has systems to correct this sort of imbalance. But when the imbalance becomes too great the systems don't work any more. Some treatments can bring calcium levels back to normal, but these only work for a limited time. Then unfortunately the calcium levels will rise in the blood until the person becomes unconscious and eventually dies.
The liver is the chemical factory of the body. It carries out many different functions, mostly to do with maintaining the balance of body chemicals. When there is not enough healthy liver tissue to keep the balance, the body's chemical balance is upset and patients may become unconscious and die.
If cancer cells take over the bone marrow, there will eventually not be enough healthy bone marrow to make blood cells. This causes anaemia (not enough red blood cells) and not enough oxygen will be carried around the body. It will also cause a drop in white blood cells. As white blood cells fight infection, it becomes more and more difficult for the body to keep bacteria and viruses under control. A drop in platelets prevents the body from controlling any abnormal bleeding. If a blood vessel in a vital part of the body is damaged for example, in the brain then the bleeding can cause a stroke. The stroke may be fatal, as the body cannot control the bleeding.
Dr-BMC

Islamabad, Pakistan

#4 Feb 17, 2009
Many treatments can control cancer for a long time even if they can't cure it. But if a cancer continues to grow, then unfortunately it can become too much for the body to cope with and eventually the treatment can no longer control the cancer.
Although this is a difficult subject for people to talk about (including doctors and nurses), it may help you to ask your specialist doctor or nurse about how you or your relative may die. It is something most people worry about at some point. Talking about the way the cancer may affect your body can help to lessen at least some of those worries. Many people are relieved to find out that they (or their relative) are likely to become unconscious shortly before they die. What you imagine may happen before death is often far worse than the reality.
It is important to remember also that very good pain control is available and no one with cancer should die in pain.
Cindy

Central District, Hong Kong

#5 Jun 7, 2009
I don't get about the a drop of white blood cells?
kiki

United States

#6 Jan 25, 2010
why does cancer kill?!?!?!?!
kiki

United States

#7 Jan 25, 2010
i need an answer fast !!!!!!!!!!PLEASE!!!!!!
Wisurvivor

Milwaukee, WI

#8 Mar 16, 2010
thanks to Doctor BMC
Wisurvivor

Milwaukee, WI

#9 Mar 16, 2010
I have colo rectal stage IV in the liver but am going strong, worry about living and keeping strong is better than focus on the end of life
sur 13

Torrington, WY

#10 Apr 8, 2010
it kills because you dont have the balls to quit if u quit u dont have the risk of getting cancer or anything else
YDT

Alexandria, VA

#11 Nov 12, 2010
Dr-BMC, I appreciate your description of the process of cancer. Very clear and educational. Thank you.
Andy

Hudson, FL

#12 Apr 2, 2011
My father went into the hospital for exploratory surgery due to problems with a blockage in his colon. Within 30 minutes of the surgery, he was in intensive care and he died two days later. His doctor found metastatic cancer and said he could not do anything. My father was in a coma-like state for those last two days. My question is, if the doctor did nothing except open him up and close him up in 30 minutes, how did he deteriorate so rapidly? This problem has been haunting me for over 10 years?
Alif

Rochester, MN

#13 May 8, 2011
Cancer kill because the exact solution (treatment or cure) yet to invent!

Well still there are few exceptions, to know details about how cancer can be treated http://www.livewithyourself.com/ i prefer this website.
JAMES

Nairobi, Kenya

#14 Jun 8, 2011
Dr-BMC wrote:
Many treatments can control cancer for a long time even if they can't cure it. But if a cancer continues to grow, then unfortunately it can become too much for the body to cope with and eventually the treatment can no longer control the cancer.
Although this is a difficult subject for people to talk about (including doctors and nurses), it may help you to ask your specialist doctor or nurse about how you or your relative may die. It is something most people worry about at some point. Talking about the way the cancer may affect your body can help to lessen at least some of those worries. Many people are relieved to find out that they (or their relative) are likely to become unconscious shortly before they die. What you imagine may happen before death is often far worse than the reality.
It is important to remember also that very good pain control is available and no one with cancer should die in pain.
Many thanks for the comments.....i have a relative who was recently diagonised with cancer at his ribs....is it possible to treat. james Kenya email:jwndungu@kcaa.or.ke
cancersucks

Charlestown, IN

#15 Sep 14, 2011
The out of control growth of the cancer cells disrupts and overtakes the normal healthy cells whose function are necessary for life.
CancerSurvivor

San Diego, CA

#16 Sep 17, 2011
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Lay

London, UK

#19 Sep 29, 2011
Honestly,i would want this q answered.i just need to know.when cancer affects a particular part of the body what is it that kills you.i mean one can have a growth on a leg and live with it for a lifetime so what makes cancer different?
A Sky Gone on Fire

Scunthorpe, UK

#20 Nov 10, 2011
'Dr-BMC' has copied and pasted that entire reply from the cancerresearchuk.org website ( http://cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org/about-... ) which may be a useful site for people to find more information
Dr-Honest

Houston, TX

#21 Jan 23, 2012
Well, the bottom line, as I was told in medical school, is that noone knows at the end why cancer kills. The total amount of cancerous tissue at the time of death is often not significant enough to directly cause fatal metabolic disturbance, and the organs are not so badly affected with metastases that they would directly cease to function (one can live for years with just a fraction of your normal liver and kidney and lung function). Yet, patients with metastatic cancer often die of multiorgan failure. Also, the cause of death from solid tumors is often things like disseminated intravascular coagulation (small clots in the blood vessels all over), which is not fully understood either. So the basic answer, though it might not be satisfying, is that medical scientists don't know exactly why cancer kills at the end.

“only the good die young”

Since: Jan 12

Location hidden

#22 Mar 19, 2012
spanky wrote:
In all the articles I've read, not one single one has explained why cancer is deadly...they only explain what cancer it...
I know bombs are deadly due to the heat and shrapnol, a bomb tears apart human flesh and one bleeds to death or is torn apart...
But how does cancer kill? Ye, I know cells divide uncontrolably...but how or why is that deadly to the body?
Can someone explain?
I have not taken the time to read other posts so i may have similar information:
Cancer as i know it damages vital organs as in this case, Being the livers conecting bile duct. A mass/tumor grows on or in organs/tisues ect... Therefor damaging that body part. Tumors large in size are commonly diagnosed at the later stage which usually mean the cancer is advanced. The organ will show signs of damage due to the growth/obstruction of a tumor, by this time the damage is irriversable or may require an immeadiate transplant where possible.

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