Cancer: Overview

Cancer refers to any one of a large number of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. Cancer can spread throughout your body.

As cells age, there is a constant process of cells dying and being replaced by new cells. This is usually an orderly process, but if too many new cells are created they form a tumour. Some tumours are not cancerous (benign) but malignant tumours (cancers) can spread. Both benign and malignant tumors are abnormal. A benign tumor is encased in a membrane that keeps it from getting to other body tissues. Benign tumors are not images2.jpgconsidered to be cancerous but can cause damage to healthy tissues when the mass is large enough to compress them. A malignant tumor is much more dangerous and harmful than a benign tumor. A malignant tumor is cancerous because the cells are not encased in a membrane and can invade and destroy nearby tissues.  Sometimes cells break away from the original (primary) cancer and spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. These cells may continue to duplicate in an uncontrolled way, forming a new tumour in a different part of the body.

Curing cancer has been a major goal of medical researchers for decades, but development of new treatments takes time and money. Already there are many forms of cancer which are no longer considered untreatable.

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