Cancer occurs when cells within the human body develop abnormalities and begin to multiply at abnormally fast rates. The result is the growth of tumors in or on the surface of the body and organs. Tumors may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Because normal cell development and duplication is a slow process which is well-controlled, it is apparent when cells duplicate so rapidly.
Malignant tumors require immediate containment and treatment, as malignant growths may expand rapidly and metastasize (spread throughout the body) at an alarming rate. Metastasis are secondary tumors which can appear at any location throughout the body, which are a direct effect of cancer spreading via blood and lymph nodes.
Cancer is merely a term used to describe a large variety of diseases, impacting very different parts of the body in very different ways. There are two large categories into which all cancer types can be separated: hematological, which are blood borne cancers and solid tumors, which are the growths described above. Each type of cancer has a unique name, most of the time coming from the area of the body which is primarily affected. For example, soft tissue cancers are cancerous growths which occur within the deep muscle or connecting tissues throughout the body. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, which affects cells containing skin pigments.
As the leading cause of death in the United States, cancer receives a huge amount of attention from researchers and research hospitals dedicated to determining the cause and searching for cures. Approximately one half of men and one third of women will develop some type of cancer during their lifetime. Optimism is the key, however, as millions of people are now living cancer free thanks to the efforts of researchers and the donations of people across the world.
Everyone is at risk for developing cancer; however lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake could increase a person’s chance of not developing some cancers. Also, healthy living and dietary choices can also ensure that should a person get cancer they are more able to fight it. It is also important to see your physician for exams on a regular basis in order to ensure that proper testing can be done if a problem is suspected.
Some cancers are gender specific, however even breast cancer can be found in 1% of men in the United States. Women are susceptible to ovarian, uterine and vaginal cancer while men only can contract penile and prostate cancer.