April – Science & Research – Week 1 The Anatomy of Cancer

April – Science & Research – Week 1 The Anatomy of Cancer

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancer develops when the body’s normal control mechanism stops working. Old cells do not die and instead grow out of control, forming new, abnormal cells. These extra cells may form a mass of tissue, called a tumor. Some cancers, such as leukemia, do not form tumors.

What are the most common forms of cancer?

Cancer may occur anywhere in the body. In women, breast cancer is one of the most common. In men, it’s prostate cancer. Lung cancer and colorectal cancer affect both men and women in high numbers.

There are five main categories of cancer:

  • Carcinomas begin in the skin or tissues that line the internal organs.
  • Sarcomas develop in the bone, cartilage, fat, muscle or other connective tissues.
  • Leukemia begins in the blood and bone marrow.
  • Lymphomas start in the immune system.
  • Central nervous system cancers develop in the brain and spinal cord.

How is cancer treated?
Treatment options depend on the type of cancer, its stage, if the cancer has spread and your general health. The goal of treatment is to kill as many cancerous cells while reducing damage to normal cells nearby. Advances in technology make this possible.

The three main treatments are:

  • Surgery: directly removing the tumor
  • Chemotherapy: using chemicals to kill cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy: using X-rays to kill cancer cells

The same cancer type in one individual is very different from that cancer in another individual. Within a single type of cancer, such as breast cancer, researchers are discovering subtypes that each requires a different treatment approach.

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