Cancer vs. Aids

Difference Between Cancer And Aids


Few diagnoses produce greater fear in patients and their families than does a diagnosis of cancer. This fear is not altogether unfounded. According to the American Cancer Society, men have a little less than 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer; for women, the risk is a little more than 1 in 3. Moreover, it seems that allegedly cancer-causing substances are found every day. It was not so long ago that a diagnosis of cancer was considered a death sentence.

Today, the cancer picture is not as grim as it was in the past. Major strides have been made in the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer. When discovered in its early stages, cancer can usually be successfully treated. Fully four of every 10 Americans diagnosed with cancer are still alive five years after the diagnosis—more than double the number who survived in the 1930s.

Cancer is not a new disease. Evidence of bone tumors has been found in ancient writings from India, Egypt, Babylonia, and Greece. In the 4th century B.C., Hippocrates introduced the term karkinos, from which carcinoma, the medical term for cancer, is derived. In A.D. 164, the Greek physician Galen established the first classification system for cancerous tumors. The first recorded instance of an occupational cancer due to environmental influences was recognized in the late 1700s, when British physician Percival Pott noted that men who had been chimney sweeps as young boys were more likely to develop cancer of the scrotum. A daily bath was later found to reduce this risk.


In the mid-1970’s, a new disease emerged. It came to be called AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. AIDS was not widely known at first. But it eventually became recognized as a major health threat. By the end of 2008, the disease had killed more than 25 million people. Over 30 million more, including 2 million children, were thought to be infected.

The threat of AIDS is worldwide. But some parts of the world have been more severely affected by AIDS than others. For example, sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and Brazil have had many AIDS cases.

AIDS is a disease caused by a virus. The virus, which is called the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), attacks the body’s immune system. Mainly, it targets cells that help fight infection. (These cells include certain white blood cells.) When the virus attacks these cells, the immune system becomes weak, or deficient. (The name “acquired immune deficiency syndrome” describes the condition that results.)

Once the immune system has been weakened by the virus, diseases of all kinds can easily take hold. Some of the diseases that take hold are rare. And some do not normally affect healthy people. Eventually, one of these diseases can kill the person with AIDS.

AIDS is a progressive disease. At first, a person infected with the virus shows no major signs. However, the person can spread the infection to others. Immune system cells begin waging a battle against the ever-multiplying virus. Over time, usually ten years or more, the immune system becomes weakened. Various symptoms may appear that can last a long time. They may or may not be serious. Finally, the disease progresses to true AIDS. This end stage is characterized by certain life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia. And nervous disorders, cancers, and severe weight loss are common.




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