What is Cancer?

Simply Put, Cancer is the Uncontrolled Growth of Abnormal Cells

Cancer is not one disease, but a name given to a collection of related diseases. Cancer can start anywhere in the body. But all cancers are characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Under normal conditions, cell reproduction is carefully controlled by the body. However, these controls can malfunction, allowing abnormal cells to crowd out normal cells. When the abnormal cells continue to divide without stopping, they often form lumps or masses called tumors. Some cancers involving the blood and blood-forming organs do not form tumors but circulate through other tissues.

A tumor may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Cells from cancerous tumors can spread throughout the body. This process, called metastasis, occurs when cancer cells break away from the original tumor and travel in the circulatory or lymphatic systems until they are lodged in a small capillary network in another area of the body. Common locations of metastasis are the bones, lungs, liver and brain.

The type of cancer refers to the organ or area of the body where the cancer first occurred. Cancer that has metastasized to other areas of the body is named for the part of the body where it originated. For example, if breast cancer has spread to the bones, it is called “metastatic breast cancer,” not bone cancer.