What is cancer?

What is cancer ?

Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss, and a change in bowel movements. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they can also have other causes. Over 100 types of cancers affect humans.

Cancer is collection of Related Diseases

Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.

Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

When cancer develops, however, this orderly process breaks down. As cells become more and more abnormal, old or damaged cells survive when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed. These extra cells can divide without stopping and may form growths called tumors.

Many cancers form solid tumors, which are masses of tissue. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemias, generally do not form solid tumors.

Cancerous tumors are malignant, which means they can spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. In addition, as these tumors grow, some cancer cells can break off and travel to distant places in the body through the blood or the lymph system and form new tumors far from the original tumor.

Unlike malignant tumors, benign tumors do not spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. Benign tumors can sometimes be quite large, however. When removed, they usually don’t grow back, whereas malignant tumors sometimes do. Unlike most benign tumors elsewhere in the body, benign brain tumors can be life threatening.

Difference between cancer cells & normal cells

Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways that allow them to grow out of control and become invasive. One important difference is that cancer cells are less specialized than normal cells. That is, whereas normal cells mature into very distinct cell types with specific functions, cancer cells do not. This is one reason that, unlike normal cells, cancer cells continue to divide without stopping.

What is cancer

In addition, cancer cells are able to ignore signals that normally tell cells to stop dividing or that begin a process known as programmed cell death, or apoptosis, which the body uses to get rid of unneeded cells.

Cancer cells may be able to influence the normal cells, molecules, and blood vessels that surround and feed a tumor—an area known as the microenvironment. For instance, cancer cells can induce nearby normal cells to form blood vessels that supply tumors with oxygen and nutrients, which they need to grow. These blood vessels also remove waste products from tumors.

Cancer cells are also often able to evade the immune system, a network of organs, tissues, and specialized cells that protects the body from infections and other conditions. Although the immune system normally removes damaged or abnormal cells from the body, some cancer cells are able to “hide” from the immune system.

Tumors can also use the immune system to stay alive and grow. For example, with the help of certain immune system cells that normally prevent a runaway immune response, cancer cells can actually keep the immune system from killing cancer cells.

What are tumors ?

Most cancers form a lump called a tumor or a growth. But not all lumps are cancer. Doctors take out a piece of the lump and look at it to find out if it’s cancer. Lumps that are not cancer are called benign (be-NINE). Lumps that are cancer are called malignant (muh-LIG-nunt).

There are some cancers, like leukemia (cancer of the blood), that don’t form tumors. They grow in the blood cells or other cells of the body.

Difference between cancer & tumor

Cancer is a disease in which cells, almost anywhere in the body, begin to divide uncontrollably. A tumor is when this uncontrolled growth occurs in solid tissue such as an organ, muscle, or bone.

What is Cancer ?

Tumors may spread to surrounding tissues through the blood and lymph systems. Cancer treatment aims to eradicate these abnormal cells, or to slow or stop them from spreading.

What is malignant and benign tumor ?

There are two types of solid tumors: malignant (cancerous) and benign (noncancerous). Cancerous tumors can invade nearby tissues in the body, and as they grow, some cells may travel to other places in the body to form other, “secondary” tumors, which are also known as metastases.

Examples of solid malignant tumors include carcinomas and sarcomas. Carcinomas are cancers that start in the cells that make up the tissue lining organs such as the liver or kidneys. Sarcomas are cancers that form in the connective tissues of the body, such as the muscles, bones, and nerves.

Benign tumors do not spread or travel throughout the body. Most are not life-threatening, aside from certain brain tumors that can still cause inflammation and put pressure on delicate tissue surrounding the tumor. A doctor can perform a biopsy to determine whether a tumor is cancerous or benign.

 

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