Definition: Defining the Meaning of Cancer
Cancer, also known as a malignant tumor or malignant neoplasm, is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Not all tumors are cancerous; benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. Possible signs and symptoms include: a new lump, abnormal bleeding, a prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss, and a change in bowel movements, among others. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they may also occur due to other issues. There are over 100 different known types of cancers that affect humans.
Cancer has a reputation for being a deadly disease. While this certainly applies to certain particular types, the truths behind the historical connotations of cancer are increasingly being overturned by advances in medical care. Some types of cancer have a prognosis that is substantially better than nonmalignant diseases such as heart failure and stroke.
There are more than 100 types of cancer, including breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma.
Cancer may affect people at all ages, even fetuses, but the risk for most varieties increases with age.
Cancer causes about 13% of all deaths.
According to the American Cancer Society, 7.6 million people died from cancer in the world during 2007.
The spread of a disease from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ or part. They then begin to divide and grow again eventually forming a new tumor, called secondary tumors or metastases. Only malignant tumor cells and infections have the capacity to metastasize.
A medical term used to describe a severe and progressively worsening disease, mostly used as a description of cancer.
Benign Tumor Definition
A tumor that lacks the malignant properties of a cancer. A benign tumor does not grow in an unlimited, aggressive manner, does not invade surrounding tissues, and does not metastasize. Examples of benign tumors include moles and uterine fibroids.
Nearly all cancers are caused by abnormalities in the genetic material of the transformed cells. These abnormalities may be due to the effects of carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke, radiation, chemicals, or infectious agents. Other cancer-promoting genetic abnormalities may be randomly acquired through errors in DNA replication, or are inherited, and thus present in all cells from birth.
Cancer Symptoms and Treatment
Most cancers can be treated and some cured, depending on the specific type, location, and stage. Once diagnosed, cancer is usually treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The choice of therapy depends upon the location and grade of the tumor and the stage of the disease, as well as the general state of the patient.
The use of ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy can be administered externally via external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) or internally via brachytherapy.
In theory, non-hematological cancers can be cured if entirely removed by surgery, but this is not always possible. When the cancer has metastasized to other sites in the body prior to surgery, complete surgical excision is usually impossible.
The treatment of cancer with drugs ("anticancer drugs") that can destroy cancer cells. In current usage, the term "chemotherapy" usually refers to cytotoxic drugs which affect rapidly dividing cells in general, in contrast with targeted therapy.
Chemotherapy drugs interfere with cell division in various possible ways, e.g. with the duplication of DNA or the separation of newly formed chromosomes.
Cancer symptoms can be generally divided into three groups:
Symptoms of metastasis (spreading):
- Enlarged lymph nodes,
- Cough and hemoptysis,
- Hepatomegaly (enlarged liver),
- Bone pain,
- Fracture of affected bones,
- Neurological symptoms.
Although advanced cancer may cause pain, it is often not the first symptom.
- Unusual lumps or swelling (tumor),
- Hemorrhage (bleeding),
- Pain and/or ulceration.
- Compression of surrounding tissues may cause symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing the eyes and skin).
- Weight loss,
- Poor appetite,
- Fatigue and cachexia (wasting),
- Excessive sweating (night sweats),
- Anemia and specific paraneoplastic phenomena, i.e. specific conditions that are due to an active cancer, such as thrombosis or hormonal changes.
Cancer Causing Agents: List of Currently Known Human Carcinogens - Ian Langtree - (2014-10-11)
Cancer Awareness Ribbon
The lavender colored ribbon brings awareness to all types of cancers. Including cancers that do not have a specific awareness color, or the lavender colored ribbon may be used to represent a variety of different cancers that families might have experienced. February is national cancer prevention month, and world cancer day is on February 4th.
Quick Facts: Most Common Cancer Types
This list of common cancer types includes cancers that are diagnosed with the greatest frequency in the United States, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers:
- Bladder Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Colon and Rectal Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
- Endometrial Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Kidney (Renal Cell) Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer
Statistics: Cancer Survival Rate
Percentage of patients with cancer types deceased five years after cancer diagnosis:
- Pancreatic cancer - 97%
- Liver cancer - 95%
- Esophageal cancer - 92%
- Lung cancer - 87%
- Stomach cancer - 83%
- Brain cancer - 75%
- Ovarian cancer - 61%
- Oral cancer - 49%
- Kidney cancer - 47%
- Rectal cancer - 46%
- Colon cancer - 43%
- Laryngeal cancer - 34%
- Cervical cancer - 34%
- Prostate cancer - 26%
- Breast cancer - 23%
- Bladder cancer - 22%
- Skin cancer - 19%
- Uterine cancer - 17%
- Thyroid cancer - 6%