The name for diseases in which the body's cells become abnormal and divide without control.
Cancer cells may invade nearby tissues. And they may spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
At its heart, Cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth. Our bodies are composed of trillions of cells, all working together. In cancer, one of those cells stops paying attention to the normal signals that tell cells to grow, stop growing or even to die. Cancer cells still share many of the same needs and properties of normal cells but they become independent of the controls that make our body function smoothly. The process by which a normal cell changes into one that behaves so abnormally can take a long time and is often triggered by outside influences.
Despite the differences between different types of cancer, all cancers do share some common features, and these shared properties are the basis for many cancer treatments and research efforts. It is important to understand the basic, shared, features of cancer. This will allow for an understanding of detection, diagnosis and treatment options.
The vast majority of cancers are sporadic. There is no clear cause why one person gets cancer and another does not. Cancer develops over time when certain normal genes start mutating. Such cells multiply rapidly and become malignant. These gene mutations occur due to a complex mix of factors related to lifestyle, heredity and environment. A risk factor is anything that increases a person`s chance of developing cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors.
Use of tobacco, certain diets, alcohol, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and to a lesser extent, exposure to cancer causing agents (carcinogens) in the environment and the workplace are some of the potential catalysts of cancer. It is important to remember, however, that these factors increase a person`s risk but do not always "cause" the disease.