The Facts About Cancer

Monday, February 09, 2009

If someone asked you to define cancer, could you do it? We all have heard the word "cancer" many times, however very few people understand the disease and how it develops.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a complex group of over 100 different types of cancer. Cancer can affect just about every organ in the human body.

How Does Cancer Develop?

The organs in our body are made up of cells. Cells divide and multiply as the body needs them. When these cells continue multiplying when the body doesn't need them, the result is a mass or growth, also called a tumor.
These growths are consider either benign or malignant. Benign is considered non-cancerous and malignant is cancerous.
Benign tumors rarely are life threatening and do not spread to other parts of the body. They can often be removed.

How Does Cancer Spread to Other Parts of the Body?
The cells within malignant tumors have the ability to invade neighboring tissues and organs, thus spreading the disease. It is also possible for cancerous cells to break free from the tumor and enter the blood stream, and spreading the disease to other organs. This process of spreading is called metastasis.
When cancer has metastasized and has affected other areas of the body, the disease is still referred to the organ of origination. For instance, if cervical cancer spreads to the lungs, it is still called cervical cancer, not lung cancer.
Although most cancers develop this way, diseases like leukemia do not. They affect the blood and the organs that form blood and then invade nearby tissues.
All cancers are different, and require different treatment. What may be effective for prostate cancer, probably will not be for bladder cancer. Diagnosing cancer will vary as well, depending on the organ affected.

Fast Facts About Cancer
One in three people will develop cancer.
One in four people will die of cancer.
In 2005, about 1.4 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed.
Over 1,000,000 cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year.
Cancer is the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 85.
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