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Cancer Information

What is Cancer?

Cancer is the general name for a group of more than 100 diseases. It works like this:

Trillions of cells make up the body. These cells are consistently replicating themselves to repair injuries or to replace worn-out or dying cells. Cancer starts when one of these replicated cells goes rogue. Usually such an abnormal cell would die. In cancer, however, the bad cell multiplies faster than its healthy peers. As a colony of abnormal cells grows, it invades healthy tissue. Eventually, these cancer cells threaten the body. If untreated, cancer causes serious illness and even death.

Sometimes cancer is caused by something known like cigarette smoking or tanning. Mostly, though, it's rare to know exactly what caused any one person’s cancer.

Types of Cancer

Cancer is identified by type and origin.

Types include:

  • Central nervous system cancers - These cancers start in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Leukemia - This cancer affects blood-forming bone marrow. It creates abnormal blood cells which enter the bloodstream.
  • Lymphoma and myeloma - These cancers begin in immune system cells.
  • Sarcoma - This cancer starts in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue.

Search for information by type of cancer

Cancer Prevention

Mostly, we don’t know why some people develop cancer and others don’t. Still, a variety of risk factors can be controlled. Perhaps the most obvious is to avoid tobacco products.

But, that’s not the only variable. Case Comprehensive Cancer Center experts have researched how lifestyle choices make a difference. Smart choices must be made when it comes to:

  • Diet, Exercise, Weight
  • Environmental chemical exposure
  • Smoking
  • Sun exposure

Cancer Screening

Despite your best efforts, many cancers have no symptoms until they’re far along. Early detection can be lifesaving. Screening - checking people who have no symptoms -- helps doctors find cancer early.  For example, regular mammograms to check for breast cancer.

Screening may catch cancer earlier and mean better treatment results. Regular checkups for people over 20 should include general screening for cancers such as thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes and testes or ovaries. Additional screenings, such as a colonoscopy, should be performed at certain times in a person’s life. Others may also be recommended based on health or family history.

View screening recommendations

Cancer by Origin

Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell where they originate. Breast cancer starts in the breast. Melanoma is cancer that begins in melanocytes of the skin. Even if the cancer travels - or metastasizes - it keeps its original name.