Cancer is a disease in which more body cells or building blocks grow or grow faster in a certain area of the body than they should, or old cells in that area don’t die when they should. Another way of thinking of cancer is that old cells in an area of the body continue to grow instead of dying when they should. Normally, new cells in the body grow when they’re needed, replacing old cells that die. When too many new cells are formed or not enough old cells die, they form a mass which is called a tumor. They can be malignant (cancer) or benign.
With cancers, also called malignant tumors, cells from the tumors can invade nearby areas, or parts of the body various distances away. By comparison, with benign tumors, their cells don’t invade the surrounding areas or spread to other areas of the body. Therefore, they are not cancers.
Most cancers are named for where they start. For example, breast cancer starts in the breast, and prostate cancer starts in the prostate, part of the male reproductive system. The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is called metastasis. Symptoms and treatment for cancer depend on the cancer type and how advanced it is. Treatment usually involves surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.
In addition to breast cancer and prostate cancer, the other three cancers that tend to have a very negative effect on multicultural populations are cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer.
Much more information on cancer is provided in Health Power’s Cancer Section. Other key sources for cancer information are the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and American Lung Association. Their telephone numbers and web sites can be visited directly from our Relevant Resources Table.