What is Cancer?
Cancer is a group of diseases which cause cells in the body to change and grow out of control. Most types of cancer cells form a lump or mass called a tumor. (Not all tumors are cancer. A tumor that is not cancer is called benign, while a cancerous tumor is called malignant.) A cancerous tumor can invade and destroy healthy tissue. Cells from the cancer can break away and travel to other parts of the body. There they can continue to grow. This spreading process is called metastasis.
When cancer spreads, it is still named after the part of the body where it started. For example, if colon cancer spreads to the liver, it is still colon cancer, not liver cancer. Benign tumors do not grow and spread the way cancer does. They are usually not a threat to life. Note that some types of cancer, such as blood cancers, do not form tumors. They can still threaten life by crowding out normal cells.
What Causes Cancer?
There is no one single cause for cancer. Scientists believe that it is the interaction of many factors together that produces cancer. The factors involved may be genetic, environmental, or constitutional characteristics of the individual.
What are the different types of cancer?
There are more than 100 types of cancers. A list of treatment options (varies by cancer), causes and prevention, screening, and the latest research involving cancer can be found here.
How do I treat it?
There are many types of cancer treatment. The types of treatment that you have will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is. Some people with cancer will have only one treatment. But most people have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. You may also have immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy.
Clinical trials might also be an option for you. Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Understanding what they are and how they work can help you decide if taking part in a trial is a good option for you. Search current clinical trials available in Georgia here.
For Cancer Terminology, see the American Cancer Society’s Glossary.
Adapted from Understanding Cancer, originally published by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.
Last Updated: 7/02/2019 4:00:35 PM