Facts About Cancer
Cancer comes from overproduction and malfunction of the body’s own cells.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in a body.
There are over 200 types of cancer.
Anything that may cause a normal body cell to develop abnormally potentially can cause cancer; general categories of cancer-related or causative agents are as follows: chemical or toxic compound exposures, ionizing radiation, some pathogens, and human genetics.
Cancer symptoms and signs depend on the specific type and grade of cancer; although general signs and symptoms are not very specific the following can be found in patients with different cancers: fatigue, weight loss, pain, skin changes, change in bowel or bladder function, unusual bleeding, persistent cough or voice change, fever, lumps, or tissue masses.
Although there are many tests to screen and presumptively diagnose cancer, the definite diagnosis is made by examination of a biopsy sample of suspected cancer tissue.
Cancer staging is often determined by biopsy results and helps determine the cancer type and the extent of cancer spread; staging also helps caregivers determine treatment protocols. In general, in most staging methods, the higher the number assigned (usually between 0 to 4), the more aggressive the cancer type or more widespread is the cancer in the body. Staging methods differ from cancer to cancer and need to be individually discussed with your health care provider.
Treatment protocols vary according to the type and stage of the cancer. Most treatment protocols are designed to fit the individual patient’s disease. However, most treatments include at least one of the following and may include all: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
There are many listed home remedies and alternative treatments for cancers but patients are strongly recommended to discuss these before use with their cancer doctors.
The prognosis of cancer can range from excellent to poor. The prognosis depends on the cancer type and its staging with those cancers known to be aggressive and those staged with higher numbers (3 to 4) often have a prognosis that ranges more toward poor
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in a body. These abnormal cells are termed cancer cells, malignant cells, or tumor cells. These cells can infiltrate normal body tissues. Many cancers and the abnormal cells that compose the cancer tissue are further identified by the name of the tissue that the abnormal cells originated from (for example, breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer). Cancer is not confined to humans; animals and other living organisms can get cancer. Below is a schematic that shows normal cell division and how when a cell is damaged or altered without repair to its system, the cell usually dies. Also shown is what occurs when such damaged or unrepaired cells do not die and become cancer cells and show uncontrolled division and growth — a mass of cancer cells develop. Frequently, cancer cells can break away from this original mass of cells, travel through the blood and lymph systems, and lodge in other organs where they can again repeat the uncontrolled growth cycle. This process of cancer cells leaving an area and growing in another body area is termed metastatic spread or metastasis. For example, if breast cancer cells spread to a bone, it means that the individual has metastatic breast cancer to bone. This is not the same as “bone cancer,” which would mean the cancer had started in the bone.
The following table (National Cancer Institute 2016) gives the estimated numbers of new cases and deaths for each common cancer type:
Cancer Type Estimated New Cases Estimated Deaths
Bladder 76,960 16,390
Breast (Female — Male) 246,660 — 2,600 40,450 — 440
Colorectal Cancer 134,490 49,190
Endometrial 60,050 10,470
Kidney (Renal Cell and Renal Pelvis) Cancer 62,700 14,240
Leukemia (All Types) 60,140 24,400
Lung (Including Bronchus) 224,390 158,080
Melanoma 76,380 10,130
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 72,580 20,150
Pancreatic 53,070 41,780
Prostate 180,890 26,120
Thyroid 64,300 1,980
The three most common cancers in men, women, and children in the U.S. are as follows:
Men: Prostate, lung, and colorectal
Women: Breast, lung, and colorectal
Children: Leukemia, brain tumors, and lymphoma
The incidence of cancer and cancer types are influenced by many factors such as age, gender, race, local environmental factors, diet, and genetics. Consequently, the incidence of cancer and cancer types vary depending on these variable factors. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) provides the following general information about cancer worldwide:
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. It accounted for 8.2 million deaths (around 22% of all deaths not related to communicable diseases; most recent data from WHO).
Lung, stomach, liver, colon, and breast cancer cause the most cancer deaths each year.
Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 13.1 million deaths in 2030 (about a 70% increase).
Different areas of the world may have cancers that are either more or less predominant then those found in the U.S. One example is that stomach cancer is often found in Japan, while it is rarely found in the U.S. This usually represents a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
The objective of this article is to introduce the reader to general aspects of cancers. It is designed to be an overview of cancer and cannot cover every cancer type. This article will also attempt to help guide the reader to more detailed sources about specific cancer types.