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Cancer-causing environmental exposures include substances, such as the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and radiation, such as ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Our Cancer Causes and Prevention section has more information. As the cancer continues to grow, additional changes will occur.

Even within the same tumor, different cells may have different genetic changes. In general, cancer cells have more genetic changes, such as mutations in DNA, than normal cells.

Some of these changes may have nothing to do with the cancer; they may be the result of the cancer, rather than its cause.

Cancer is caused by changes to DNA. These changes are also called genetic changes. A DNA change can cause genes involved in normal cell growth to become oncogenes.

Unlike normal genes, oncogenes cannot be turned off, so they cause uncontrolled cell growth. In normal cells, tumor suppressor genes prevent cancer by slowing or stopping cell growth.

DNA changes that inactivate tumor suppressor genes can lead to uncontrolled cell growth and cancer.

Cancer cells can change the microenvironment, which in turn can affect how cancer grows and spreads. Immune system cells can detect and attack cancer cells.

But some cancer cells can avoid detection or thwart an attack. Some cancer treatments can help the immune system better detect and kill cancer cells.

Genetic changes that cause cancer can be inherited or arise from certain environmental exposures. Genetic changes can also happen because of errors that occur as cells divide.

Most often, cancer-causing genetic changes accumulate slowly as a person ages, leading to a higher risk of cancer later in life.

Cancer cells can break away from the original tumor and travel through the blood or lymph system to distant locations in the body, where they exit the vessels to form additional tumors.

This is called metastasis. The genetic changes that contribute to cancer tend to affect three main types of genes— proto-oncogenes , tumor suppressor genes , and DNA repair genes.

Proto-oncogenes are involved in normal cell growth and division. However, when these genes are altered in certain ways or are more active than normal, they may become cancer-causing genes or oncogenes , allowing cells to grow and survive when they should not.

Tumor suppressor genes are also involved in controlling cell growth and division. Cells with certain alterations in tumor suppressor genes may divide in an uncontrolled manner.

Cells with mutations in these genes tend to develop additional mutations in other genes. Together, these mutations may cause the cells to become cancerous.

As scientists have learned more about the molecular changes that lead to cancer, they have found that certain mutations commonly occur in many types of cancer.

Because of this, cancers are sometimes characterized by the types of genetic alterations that are believed to be driving them, not just by where they develop in the body and how the cancer cells look under the microscope.

In metastasis, cancer cells break away from where they first formed primary cancer , travel through the blood or lymph system, and form new tumors metastatic tumors in other parts of the body.

The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. A cancer that has spread from the place where it first started to another place in the body is called metastatic cancer.

The process by which cancer cells spread to other parts of the body is called metastasis. Metastatic cancer has the same name and the same type of cancer cells as the original, or primary, cancer.

For example, breast cancer that spreads to and forms a metastatic tumor in the lung is metastatic breast cancer, not lung cancer.

Under a microscope, metastatic cancer cells generally look the same as cells of the original cancer. Moreover, metastatic cancer cells and cells of the original cancer usually have some molecular features in common, such as the presence of specific chromosome changes.

Treatment may help prolong the lives of some people with metastatic cancer. In general, though, the primary goal of treatments for metastatic cancer is to control the growth of the cancer or to relieve symptoms caused by it.

Metastatic tumors can cause severe damage to how the body functions, and most people who die of cancer die of metastatic disease.

Some tissue changes may develop into cancer if they are not treated, however. Here are some examples of tissue changes that are not cancer but, in some cases, are monitored:.

Hyperplasia occurs when cells within a tissue divide faster than normal and extra cells build up, or proliferate. However, the cells and the way the tissue is organized look normal under a microscope.

Hyperplasia can be caused by several factors or conditions, including chronic irritation. Dysplasia is a more serious condition than hyperplasia.

In dysplasia, there is also a buildup of extra cells. But the cells look abnormal and there are changes in how the tissue is organized. In general, the more abnormal the cells and tissue look, the greater the chance that cancer will form.

Some types of dysplasia may need to be monitored or treated. An example of dysplasia is an abnormal mole called a dysplastic nevus that forms on the skin.

A dysplastic nevus can turn into melanoma, although most do not. An even more serious condition is carcinoma in situ. Although it is sometimes called cancer, carcinoma in situ is not cancer because the abnormal cells do not spread beyond the original tissue.

That is, they do not invade nearby tissue the way that cancer cells do. But, because some carcinomas in situ may become cancer, they are usually treated.

Normal cells may become cancer cells. Before cancer cells form in tissues of the body, the cells go through abnormal changes called hyperplasia and dysplasia.

In hyperplasia, there is an increase in the number of cells in an organ or tissue that appear normal under a microscope.

In dysplasia, the cells look abnormal under a microscope but are not cancer. Hyperplasia and dysplasia may or may not become cancer.

There are more than types of cancer. Types of cancer are usually named for the organs or tissues where the cancers form. For example, lung cancer starts in cells of the lung, and brain cancer starts in cells of the brain.

Cancers also may be described by the type of cell that formed them, such as an epithelial cell or a squamous cell.

We also have collections of information on childhood cancers and cancers in adolescents and young adults. Carcinomas are the most common type of cancer.

They are formed by epithelial cells, which are the cells that cover the inside and outside surfaces of the body. There are many types of epithelial cells, which often have a column-like shape when viewed under a microscope.

Carcinomas that begin in different epithelial cell types have specific names:. Adenocarcinoma is a cancer that forms in epithelial cells that produce fluids or mucus.

Tissues with this type of epithelial cell are sometimes called glandular tissues. Most cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate are adenocarcinomas.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer that forms in squamous cells, which are epithelial cells that lie just beneath the outer surface of the skin.

Squamous cells also line many other organs, including the stomach, intestines, lungs, bladder, and kidneys.

Squamous cells look flat, like fish scales, when viewed under a microscope. Squamous cell carcinomas are sometimes called epidermoid carcinomas.

Transitional cell carcinoma is a cancer that forms in a type of epithelial tissue called transitional epithelium, or urothelium. This tissue, which is made up of many layers of epithelial cells that can get bigger and smaller, is found in the linings of the bladder, ureters, and part of the kidneys renal pelvis , and a few other organs.

Some cancers of the bladder, ureters, and kidneys are transitional cell carcinomas. Soft tissue sarcoma forms in soft tissues of the body, including muscle, tendons, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves, and tissue around joints.

Sarcomas are cancers that form in bone and soft tissues, including muscle, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels , and fibrous tissue such as tendons and ligaments.

Osteosarcoma is the most common cancer of bone. The most common types of soft tissue sarcoma are leiomyosarcoma , Kaposi sarcoma , malignant fibrous histiocytoma , liposarcoma , and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans.

Our page on soft tissue sarcoma has more information. Cancers that begin in the blood-forming tissue of the bone marrow are called leukemias. These cancers do not form solid tumors.

Instead, large numbers of abnormal white blood cells leukemia cells and leukemic blast cells build up in the blood and bone marrow, crowding out normal blood cells.

The low level of normal blood cells can make it harder for the body to get oxygen to its tissues, control bleeding, or fight infections.

There are four common types of leukemia, which are grouped based on how quickly the disease gets worse acute or chronic and on the type of blood cell the cancer starts in lymphoblastic or myeloid.

Our page on leukemia has more information. Lymphoma is cancer that begins in lymphocytes T cells or B cells.

These are disease-fighting white blood cells that are part of the immune system. In lymphoma, abnormal lymphocytes build up in lymph nodes and lymph vessels, as well as in other organs of the body.

Hodgkin lymphoma — People with this disease have abnormal lymphocytes that are called Reed-Sternberg cells. These cells usually form from B cells.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma — This is a large group of cancers that start in lymphocytes. The cancers can grow quickly or slowly and can form from B cells or T cells.

Our page on lymphoma has more information. Multiple myeloma is cancer that begins in plasma cells , another type of immune cell.

The abnormal plasma cells, called myeloma cells, build up in the bone marrow and form tumors in bones all through the body. Multiple myeloma is also called plasma cell myeloma and Kahler disease.

Our page on multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms has more information. Melanoma is cancer that begins in cells that become melanocytes, which are specialized cells that make melanin the pigment that gives skin its color.

Most melanomas form on the skin, but melanomas can also form in other pigmented tissues, such as the eye. Our pages on skin cancer and intraocular melanoma have more information.

There are different types of brain and spinal cord tumors. These tumors are named based on the type of cell in which they formed and where the tumor first formed in the central nervous system.

For example, an astrocytic tumor begins in star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes , which help keep nerve cells healthy. Brain tumors can be benign not cancer or malignant cancer.

Our page on brain and spinal cord tumors in adults has more information, as does our overview of brain and spinal cord tumors in children.

Germ cell tumors are a type of tumor that begins in the cells that give rise to sperm or eggs. These tumors can occur almost anywhere in the body and can be either benign or malignant.

Neuroendocrine tumors form from cells that release hormones into the blood in response to a signal from the nervous system.

These tumors, which may make higher-than-normal amounts of hormones, can cause many different symptoms. Neuroendocrine tumors may be benign or malignant.

Our definition of neuroendocrine tumors has more information. Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor. They are slow-growing tumors that are usually found in the gastrointestinal system most often in the rectum and small intestine.

Carcinoid tumors may spread to the liver or other sites in the body, and they may secrete substances such as serotonin or prostaglandins, causing carcinoid syndrome.

Our page on gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors has more information. Menu Contact Dictionary Search. Understanding Cancer.

What Is Cancer? Cancer Statistics. Cancer Disparities. Cancer Causes and Prevention. The efficacy of chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer and the stage.

In combination with surgery, chemotherapy has proven useful in cancer types including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer , osteogenic sarcoma , testicular cancer , ovarian cancer and certain lung cancers.

Even when chemotherapy does not provide a permanent cure, it may be useful to reduce symptoms such as pain or to reduce the size of an inoperable tumor in the hope that surgery will become possible in the future.

Radiation therapy involves the use of ionizing radiation in an attempt to either cure or improve symptoms. It works by damaging the DNA of cancerous tissue, killing it.

To spare normal tissues such as skin or organs, which radiation must pass through to treat the tumor , shaped radiation beams are aimed from multiple exposure angles to intersect at the tumor, providing a much larger dose there than in the surrounding, healthy tissue.

As with chemotherapy, cancers vary in their response to radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is used in about half of cases.

The radiation can be either from internal sources brachytherapy or external sources. The radiation is most commonly low energy X-rays for treating skin cancers, while higher energy X-rays are used for cancers within the body.

For certain types of cancer, such as early head and neck cancer , it may be used alone. Surgery is the primary method of treatment for most isolated, solid cancers and may play a role in palliation and prolongation of survival.

It is typically an important part of definitive diagnosis and staging of tumors, as biopsies are usually required. In localized cancer, surgery typically attempts to remove the entire mass along with, in certain cases, the lymph nodes in the area.

For some types of cancer this is sufficient to eliminate the cancer. Palliative care is treatment that attempts to help the patient feel better and may be combined with an attempt to treat the cancer.

Palliative care includes action to reduce physical, emotional, spiritual and psycho-social distress. Unlike treatment that is aimed at directly killing cancer cells, the primary goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life.

People at all stages of cancer treatment typically receive some kind of palliative care. In some cases, medical specialty professional organizations recommend that patients and physicians respond to cancer only with palliative care.

Palliative care may be confused with hospice and therefore only indicated when people approach end of life. Like hospice care, palliative care attempts to help the patient cope with their immediate needs and to increase comfort.

Unlike hospice care, palliative care does not require people to stop treatment aimed at the cancer. Multiple national medical guidelines recommend early palliative care for patients whose cancer has produced distressing symptoms or who need help coping with their illness.

In patients first diagnosed with metastatic disease, palliative care may be immediately indicated. Palliative care is indicated for patients with a prognosis of less than 12 months of life even given aggressive treatment.

A variety of therapies using immunotherapy , stimulating or helping the immune system to fight cancer, have come into use since Approaches include antibodies , checkpoint therapy, and adoptive cell transfer.

Laser therapy uses high-intensity light to treat cancer by shrinking or destroying tumors or precancerous growths.

Lasers are most commonly used to treat superficial cancers that are on the surface of the body or the lining of internal organs.

It is used to treat basal cell skin cancer and the very early stages of others like cervical, penile, vaginal, vulvar, and non-small cell lung cancer.

It is often combined with other treatments, such as surgery , chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy LITT , or interstitial laser photocoagulation , uses lasers to treat some cancers using hyperthermia, which uses heat to shrink tumors by damaging or killing cancer cells.

Laser are more precise than surgery and cause less damage, pain, bleeding, swelling, and scarring. A disadvantage is surgeons must have specialized training.

It may be more expensive than other treatments. Complementary and alternative cancer treatments are a diverse group of therapies, practices and products that are not part of conventional medicine.

Some alternative treatments have been investigated and shown to be ineffective but still continue to be marketed and promoted. Cancer researcher Andrew J.

Vickers stated, "The label 'unproven' is inappropriate for such therapies; it is time to assert that many alternative cancer therapies have been 'disproven'.

Survival rates vary by cancer type and by the stage at which it is diagnosed, ranging from majority survival to complete mortality five years after diagnosis.

Once a cancer has metastasized, prognosis normally becomes much worse. About half of patients receiving treatment for invasive cancer excluding carcinoma in situ and non-melanoma skin cancers die from that cancer or its treatment.

Survival is worse in the developing world , [23] partly because the types of cancer that are most common there are harder to treat than those associated with developed countries.

Those who survive cancer develop a second primary cancer at about twice the rate of those never diagnosed.

Predicting short- or long-term survival depends on many factors. The most important are the cancer type and the patient's age and overall health.

Those who are frail with other health problems have lower survival rates than otherwise healthy people. Centenarians are unlikely to survive for five years even if treatment is successful.

People who report a higher quality of life tend to survive longer. Additionally, patients with worse prognoses may be depressed or report poorer quality of life because they perceive that their condition is likely to be fatal.

People with cancer have an increased risk of blood clots in their veins which can be life-threatening. Estimates are that in , In , approximately The most common as of [update] are lung cancer 1.

Deaths from cancer were 5. Weinberg , "If we lived long enough, sooner or later we all would get cancer. Some slow-growing cancers are particularly common, but often are not fatal.

Cancer has existed for all of human history. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, it became acceptable for doctors to dissect bodies to discover the cause of death.

The Dutch professor Francois de la Boe Sylvius , a follower of Descartes , believed that all disease was the outcome of chemical processes and that acidic lymph fluid was the cause of cancer.

His contemporary Nicolaes Tulp believed that cancer was a poison that slowly spreads and concluded that it was contagious. The physician John Hill described tobacco snuff as the cause of nose cancer in This view of the disease was first formulated by the English surgeon Campbell De Morgan between and Although many diseases such as heart failure may have a worse prognosis than most cases of cancer, cancer is the subject of widespread fear and taboos.

The euphemism of "a long illness" to describe cancers leading to death is still commonly used in obituaries, rather than naming the disease explicitly, reflecting an apparent stigma.

Western conceptions of patients' rights for people with cancer include a duty to fully disclose the medical situation to the person, and the right to engage in shared decision-making in a way that respects the person's own values.

In other cultures, other rights and values are preferred. For example, most African cultures value whole families rather than individualism.

In parts of Africa, a diagnosis is commonly made so late that cure is not possible, and treatment, if available at all, would quickly bankrupt the family.

As a result of these factors, African healthcare providers tend to let family members decide whether, when and how to disclose the diagnosis, and they tend to do so slowly and circuitously, as the person shows interest and an ability to cope with the grim news.

In the United States and some other cultures, cancer is regarded as a disease that must be "fought" to end the "civil insurrection"; a War on Cancer was declared in the US.

Military metaphors are particularly common in descriptions of cancer's human effects, and they emphasize both the state of the patient's health and the need to take immediate, decisive actions himself rather than to delay, to ignore or to rely entirely on others.

The military metaphors also help rationalize radical, destructive treatments. In the s, a relatively popular alternative cancer treatment in the US was a specialized form of talk therapy , based on the idea that cancer was caused by a bad attitude.

Some psychotherapists said that treatment to change the patient's outlook on life would cure the cancer. One idea about why people with cancer are blamed or stigmatized, called the just-world hypothesis , is that blaming cancer on the patient's actions or attitudes allows the blamers to regain a sense of control.

This is based upon the blamers' belief that the world is fundamentally just and so any dangerous illness, like cancer, must be a type of punishment for bad choices, because in a just world, bad things would not happen to good people.

Cancer causes also costs for informal care. Indirect costs and informal care costs are typically estimated to exceed or equal the health care costs of cancer.

In the United States, cancer is included as a protected condition by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC , mainly due to the potential for cancer having discriminating effects on workers.

Employers may also make hiring or firing decisions based on misconceptions about cancer disabilities, if present. The EEOC provides interview guidelines for employers, as well as lists of possible solutions for assessing and accommodating employees with cancer.

Because cancer is a class of diseases, [] [] it is unlikely that there will ever be a single " cure for cancer " any more than there will be a single treatment for all infectious diseases.

Experimental cancer treatments are studied in clinical trials to compare the proposed treatment to the best existing treatment. Treatments that succeeded in one cancer type can be tested against other types.

The improved understanding of molecular biology and cellular biology due to cancer research has led to new treatments for cancer since US President Richard Nixon declared the " War on Cancer " in Competition for financial resources appears to have suppressed the creativity, cooperation, risk-taking and original thinking required to make fundamental discoveries, unduly favoring low-risk research into small incremental advancements over riskier, more innovative research.

Other consequences of competition appear to be many studies with dramatic claims whose results cannot be replicated and perverse incentives that encourage grantee institutions to grow without making sufficient investments in their own faculty and facilities.

Virotherapy , which uses convert viruses, is being studied. Cancer affects approximately 1 in 1, pregnant women. The most common cancers found during pregnancy are the same as the most common cancers found in non-pregnant women during childbearing ages: breast cancer, cervical cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma, ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer.

Diagnosing a new cancer in a pregnant woman is difficult, in part because any symptoms are commonly assumed to be a normal discomfort associated with pregnancy.

As a result, cancer is typically discovered at a somewhat later stage than average. Some imaging procedures, such as MRIs magnetic resonance imaging , CT scans , ultrasounds and mammograms with fetal shielding are considered safe during pregnancy; some others, such as PET scans , are not.

Treatment is generally the same as for non-pregnant women. However, radiation and radioactive drugs are normally avoided during pregnancy, especially if the fetal dose might exceed cGy.

In some cases, some or all treatments are postponed until after birth if the cancer is diagnosed late in the pregnancy.

Early deliveries are often used to advance the start of treatment. Surgery is generally safe, but pelvic surgeries during the first trimester may cause miscarriage.

Some treatments, especially certain chemotherapy drugs given during the first trimester , increase the risk of birth defects and pregnancy loss spontaneous abortions and stillbirths.

Elective abortions are not required and, for the most common forms and stages of cancer, do not improve the mother's survival.

In a few instances, such as advanced uterine cancer, the pregnancy cannot be continued and in others, the patient may end the pregnancy so that she can begin aggressive chemotherapy.

Some treatments can interfere with the mother's ability to give birth vaginally or to breastfeed. Radiation to the breast reduces the ability of that breast to produce milk and increases the risk of mastitis.

Also, when chemotherapy is given after birth, many of the drugs appear in breast milk, which could harm the baby. Veterinary oncology , concentrating mainly on cats and dogs, is a growing specialty in wealthy countries and the major forms of human treatment such as surgery and radiotherapy may be offered.

The most common types of cancer differ, but the cancer burden seems at least as high in pets as in humans. Animals, typically rodents, are often used in cancer research and studies of natural cancers in larger animals may benefit research into human cancer.

In non-humans, a few types of transmissible cancer have been described, wherein the cancer spreads between animals by transmission of the tumor cells themselves.

This phenomenon is seen in dogs with Sticker's sarcoma also known as canine transmissible venereal tumor , and in Tasmanian devils with devil facial tumour disease DFTD.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the group of diseases. For other uses, see Cancer disambiguation.

For the Czech rock band, see Malignant Tumour. Group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth and spread. Play media. Main article: Cancer signs and symptoms.

Main article: Metastasis. Main article: Causes of cancer. Further information: Alcohol and cancer and Smoking and cancer.

Main article: Diet and cancer. Main article: Infectious causes of cancer. Main article: Radiation-induced cancer. Main article: Cancer syndrome.

Main article: Carcinogenesis. Main article: Oncogenomics. Main article: Cancer epigenetics. Further information: List of cancer types and List of oncology-related terms.

Main article: Cancer prevention. Main article: Cancer screening. See also: Cancer syndrome. Main articles: Management of cancer and oncology.

Main article: Cancer immunotherapy. Main article: Lasers in cancer treatment. See also: Cancer survival rates , List of cancer mortality rates in the United States , and Cancer survivor.

Main article: Epidemiology of cancer. See also: List of countries by cancer rate. Age-standardized death rate from cancer per 10, people. Main article: History of cancer.

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Some environments make errors more likely to arise and propagate. Such environments can include the presence of disruptive substances called carcinogens , repeated physical injury, heat, ionising radiation or hypoxia.

The transformation of a normal cell into cancer is akin to a chain reaction caused by initial errors, which compound into more severe errors, each progressively allowing the cell to escape more controls that limit normal tissue growth.

This rebellion-like scenario is an undesirable survival of the fittest , where the driving forces of evolution work against the body's design and enforcement of order.

Once cancer has begun to develop, this ongoing process, termed clonal evolution , drives progression towards more invasive stages.

Characteristic abilities developed by cancers are divided into categories, specifically evasion of apoptosis, self-sufficiency in growth signals, insensitivity to anti-growth signals, sustained angiogenesis, limitless replicative potential, metastasis, reprogramming of energy metabolism and evasion of immune destruction.

The classical view of cancer is a set of diseases that are driven by progressive genetic abnormalities that include mutations in tumor-suppressor genes and oncogenes and chromosomal abnormalities.

Later epigenetic alterations ' role was identified. Epigenetic alterations are functionally relevant modifications to the genome that do not change the nucleotide sequence.

Examples of such modifications are changes in DNA methylation hypermethylation and hypomethylation , histone modification [88] and changes in chromosomal architecture caused by inappropriate expression of proteins such as HMGA2 or HMGA1.

These changes may remain through cell divisions , last for multiple generations and can be considered to be epimutations equivalent to mutations.

Epigenetic alterations occur frequently in cancers. As an example, one study listed protein coding genes that were frequently altered in their methylation in association with colon cancer.

These included hypermethylated and 27 hypomethylated genes. While epigenetic alterations are found in cancers, the epigenetic alterations in DNA repair genes, causing reduced expression of DNA repair proteins, may be of particular importance.

Such alterations are thought to occur early in progression to cancer and to be a likely cause of the genetic instability characteristic of cancers.

This is shown in the figure at the 4th level from the top. In the figure, red wording indicates the central role of DNA damage and defects in DNA repair in progression to cancer.

Mutation rates increase substantially in cells defective in DNA mismatch repair [94] [95] or in homologous recombinational repair HRR. Higher levels of DNA damage cause increased mutation right side of figure and increased epimutation.

During repair of DNA double strand breaks, or repair of other DNA damage, incompletely cleared repair sites can cause epigenetic gene silencing.

Deficient expression of DNA repair proteins due to an inherited mutation can increase cancer risks. However, such germline mutations which cause highly penetrant cancer syndromes are the cause of only about 1 percent of cancers.

In sporadic cancers, deficiencies in DNA repair are occasionally caused by a mutation in a DNA repair gene but are much more frequently caused by epigenetic alterations that reduce or silence expression of DNA repair genes.

This is indicated in the figure at the 3rd level. Many studies of heavy metal-induced carcinogenesis show that such heavy metals cause a reduction in expression of DNA repair enzymes, some through epigenetic mechanisms.

DNA repair inhibition is proposed to be a predominant mechanism in heavy metal-induced carcinogenicity. Cancers usually arise from an assemblage of mutations and epimutations that confer a selective advantage leading to clonal expansion see Field defects in progression to cancer.

Mutations, however, may not be as frequent in cancers as epigenetic alterations. An average cancer of the breast or colon can have about 60 to 70 protein-altering mutations, of which about three or four may be "driver" mutations and the remaining ones may be "passenger" mutations.

Metastasis is the spread of cancer to other locations in the body. The dispersed tumors are called metastatic tumors, while the original is called the primary tumor.

Almost all cancers can metastasize. Metastasis is common in the late stages of cancer and it can occur via the blood or the lymphatic system or both.

The typical steps in metastasis are local invasion , intravasation into the blood or lymph, circulation through the body, extravasation into the new tissue, proliferation and angiogenesis.

Different types of cancers tend to metastasize to particular organs, but overall the most common places for metastases to occur are the lungs , liver , brain and the bones.

Most cancers are initially recognized either because of the appearance of signs or symptoms or through screening.

Neither of these leads to a definitive diagnosis, which requires the examination of a tissue sample by a pathologist. People with suspected cancer are investigated with medical tests.

These commonly include blood tests , X-rays , contrast CT scans and endoscopy. The tissue diagnosis from the biopsy indicates the type of cell that is proliferating, its histological grade , genetic abnormalities and other features.

Together, this information is useful to evaluate the prognosis and to choose the best treatment. Cytogenetics and immunohistochemistry are other types of tissue tests.

These tests provide information about molecular changes such as mutations , fusion genes and numerical chromosome changes and may thus also indicate the prognosis and best treatment.

Cancer diagnosis can cause psychological distress and psychosocial interventions, such as talking therapy, may help people with this.

Cancers are classified by the type of cell that the tumor cells resemble and is therefore presumed to be the origin of the tumor. These types include:.

Cancers are usually named using -carcinoma , -sarcoma or -blastoma as a suffix, with the Latin or Greek word for the organ or tissue of origin as the root.

For example, cancers of the liver parenchyma arising from malignant epithelial cells is called hepatocarcinoma , while a malignancy arising from primitive liver precursor cells is called a hepatoblastoma and a cancer arising from fat cells is called a liposarcoma.

For some common cancers, the English organ name is used. For example, the most common type of breast cancer is called ductal carcinoma of the breast.

Here, the adjective ductal refers to the appearance of cancer under the microscope, which suggests that it has originated in the milk ducts.

Benign tumors which are not cancers are named using -oma as a suffix with the organ name as the root. For example, a benign tumor of smooth muscle cells is called a leiomyoma the common name of this frequently occurring benign tumor in the uterus is fibroid.

Confusingly, some types of cancer use the -noma suffix, examples including melanoma and seminoma. Some types of cancer are named for the size and shape of the cells under a microscope, such as giant cell carcinoma, spindle cell carcinoma and small-cell carcinoma.

An invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast pale area at the center surrounded by spikes of whitish scar tissue and yellow fatty tissue. An invasive colorectal carcinoma top center in a colectomy specimen.

A squamous-cell carcinoma the whitish tumor near the bronchi in a lung specimen. A large invasive ductal carcinoma in a mastectomy specimen.

Cancer prevention is defined as active measures to decrease cancer risk. Many of these environmental factors are controllable lifestyle choices.

Thus, cancer is generally preventable. While many dietary recommendations have been proposed to reduce cancer risks, the evidence to support them is not definitive.

Diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in red meat have been implicated but reviews and meta-analyses do not come to a consistent conclusion.

Dietary recommendations for cancer prevention typically include an emphasis on vegetables , fruit , whole grains and fish and an avoidance of processed and red meat beef, pork, lamb , animal fats , pickled foods and refined carbohydrates.

Medications can be used to prevent cancer in a few circumstances. Vitamin supplementation does not appear to be effective at preventing cancer. Beta-Carotene supplementation increases lung cancer rates in those who are high risk.

Vaccines have been developed that prevent infection by some carcinogenic viruses. Unlike diagnostic efforts prompted by symptoms and medical signs , cancer screening involves efforts to detect cancer after it has formed, but before any noticeable symptoms appear.

Cancer screening is not available for many types of cancers. Even when tests are available, they may not be recommended for everyone.

Universal screening or mass screening involves screening everyone. The U. Screens for gastric cancer using photofluorography due to the high incidence there.

Genetic testing for individuals at high-risk of certain cancers is recommended by unofficial groups. Many treatment options for cancer exist. The primary ones include surgery, chemotherapy , radiation therapy , hormonal therapy , targeted therapy and palliative care.

Which treatments are used depends on the type, location and grade of the cancer as well as the patient's health and preferences. The treatment intent may or may not be curative.

Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with one or more cytotoxic anti- neoplastic drugs chemotherapeutic agents as part of a standardized regimen.

The term encompasses a variety of drugs, which are divided into broad categories such as alkylating agents and antimetabolites.

It was found that providing combined cytotoxic drugs is better than a single drug; a process called the combination therapy ; which has an advantage in the statistics of survival and response to the tumor and in the progress of the disease.

However, generally it is not certain whether combination chemotherapy leads to better health outcomes, when both survival and toxicity are considered.

Targeted therapy is a form of chemotherapy that targets specific molecular differences between cancer and normal cells. The first targeted therapies blocked the estrogen receptor molecule, inhibiting the growth of breast cancer.

Another common example is the class of Bcr-Abl inhibitors , which are used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia CML.

The efficacy of chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer and the stage. In combination with surgery, chemotherapy has proven useful in cancer types including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer , osteogenic sarcoma , testicular cancer , ovarian cancer and certain lung cancers.

Even when chemotherapy does not provide a permanent cure, it may be useful to reduce symptoms such as pain or to reduce the size of an inoperable tumor in the hope that surgery will become possible in the future.

Radiation therapy involves the use of ionizing radiation in an attempt to either cure or improve symptoms. It works by damaging the DNA of cancerous tissue, killing it.

To spare normal tissues such as skin or organs, which radiation must pass through to treat the tumor , shaped radiation beams are aimed from multiple exposure angles to intersect at the tumor, providing a much larger dose there than in the surrounding, healthy tissue.

As with chemotherapy, cancers vary in their response to radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is used in about half of cases.

The radiation can be either from internal sources brachytherapy or external sources. The radiation is most commonly low energy X-rays for treating skin cancers, while higher energy X-rays are used for cancers within the body.

For certain types of cancer, such as early head and neck cancer , it may be used alone. Surgery is the primary method of treatment for most isolated, solid cancers and may play a role in palliation and prolongation of survival.

It is typically an important part of definitive diagnosis and staging of tumors, as biopsies are usually required. In localized cancer, surgery typically attempts to remove the entire mass along with, in certain cases, the lymph nodes in the area.

For some types of cancer this is sufficient to eliminate the cancer. Palliative care is treatment that attempts to help the patient feel better and may be combined with an attempt to treat the cancer.

Palliative care includes action to reduce physical, emotional, spiritual and psycho-social distress. Unlike treatment that is aimed at directly killing cancer cells, the primary goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life.

People at all stages of cancer treatment typically receive some kind of palliative care. In some cases, medical specialty professional organizations recommend that patients and physicians respond to cancer only with palliative care.

Palliative care may be confused with hospice and therefore only indicated when people approach end of life.

Like hospice care, palliative care attempts to help the patient cope with their immediate needs and to increase comfort. Unlike hospice care, palliative care does not require people to stop treatment aimed at the cancer.

Multiple national medical guidelines recommend early palliative care for patients whose cancer has produced distressing symptoms or who need help coping with their illness.

In patients first diagnosed with metastatic disease, palliative care may be immediately indicated. Palliative care is indicated for patients with a prognosis of less than 12 months of life even given aggressive treatment.

A variety of therapies using immunotherapy , stimulating or helping the immune system to fight cancer, have come into use since Approaches include antibodies , checkpoint therapy, and adoptive cell transfer.

Laser therapy uses high-intensity light to treat cancer by shrinking or destroying tumors or precancerous growths. Lasers are most commonly used to treat superficial cancers that are on the surface of the body or the lining of internal organs.

It is used to treat basal cell skin cancer and the very early stages of others like cervical, penile, vaginal, vulvar, and non-small cell lung cancer.

It is often combined with other treatments, such as surgery , chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy LITT , or interstitial laser photocoagulation , uses lasers to treat some cancers using hyperthermia, which uses heat to shrink tumors by damaging or killing cancer cells.

Laser are more precise than surgery and cause less damage, pain, bleeding, swelling, and scarring. A disadvantage is surgeons must have specialized training.

It may be more expensive than other treatments. Complementary and alternative cancer treatments are a diverse group of therapies, practices and products that are not part of conventional medicine.

Some alternative treatments have been investigated and shown to be ineffective but still continue to be marketed and promoted.

Cancer researcher Andrew J. Vickers stated, "The label 'unproven' is inappropriate for such therapies; it is time to assert that many alternative cancer therapies have been 'disproven'.

Survival rates vary by cancer type and by the stage at which it is diagnosed, ranging from majority survival to complete mortality five years after diagnosis.

Once a cancer has metastasized, prognosis normally becomes much worse. About half of patients receiving treatment for invasive cancer excluding carcinoma in situ and non-melanoma skin cancers die from that cancer or its treatment.

Survival is worse in the developing world , [23] partly because the types of cancer that are most common there are harder to treat than those associated with developed countries.

Those who survive cancer develop a second primary cancer at about twice the rate of those never diagnosed. Predicting short- or long-term survival depends on many factors.

The most important are the cancer type and the patient's age and overall health. Those who are frail with other health problems have lower survival rates than otherwise healthy people.

Centenarians are unlikely to survive for five years even if treatment is successful. People who report a higher quality of life tend to survive longer.

Additionally, patients with worse prognoses may be depressed or report poorer quality of life because they perceive that their condition is likely to be fatal.

People with cancer have an increased risk of blood clots in their veins which can be life-threatening. Estimates are that in , In , approximately The most common as of [update] are lung cancer 1.

Deaths from cancer were 5. Weinberg , "If we lived long enough, sooner or later we all would get cancer. Some slow-growing cancers are particularly common, but often are not fatal.

Cancer has existed for all of human history. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, it became acceptable for doctors to dissect bodies to discover the cause of death.

The Dutch professor Francois de la Boe Sylvius , a follower of Descartes , believed that all disease was the outcome of chemical processes and that acidic lymph fluid was the cause of cancer.

His contemporary Nicolaes Tulp believed that cancer was a poison that slowly spreads and concluded that it was contagious.

The physician John Hill described tobacco snuff as the cause of nose cancer in This view of the disease was first formulated by the English surgeon Campbell De Morgan between and Although many diseases such as heart failure may have a worse prognosis than most cases of cancer, cancer is the subject of widespread fear and taboos.

The euphemism of "a long illness" to describe cancers leading to death is still commonly used in obituaries, rather than naming the disease explicitly, reflecting an apparent stigma.

Western conceptions of patients' rights for people with cancer include a duty to fully disclose the medical situation to the person, and the right to engage in shared decision-making in a way that respects the person's own values.

In other cultures, other rights and values are preferred. For example, most African cultures value whole families rather than individualism.

In parts of Africa, a diagnosis is commonly made so late that cure is not possible, and treatment, if available at all, would quickly bankrupt the family.

As a result of these factors, African healthcare providers tend to let family members decide whether, when and how to disclose the diagnosis, and they tend to do so slowly and circuitously, as the person shows interest and an ability to cope with the grim news.

In the United States and some other cultures, cancer is regarded as a disease that must be "fought" to end the "civil insurrection"; a War on Cancer was declared in the US.

Military metaphors are particularly common in descriptions of cancer's human effects, and they emphasize both the state of the patient's health and the need to take immediate, decisive actions himself rather than to delay, to ignore or to rely entirely on others.

The military metaphors also help rationalize radical, destructive treatments. In the s, a relatively popular alternative cancer treatment in the US was a specialized form of talk therapy , based on the idea that cancer was caused by a bad attitude.

Some psychotherapists said that treatment to change the patient's outlook on life would cure the cancer. One idea about why people with cancer are blamed or stigmatized, called the just-world hypothesis , is that blaming cancer on the patient's actions or attitudes allows the blamers to regain a sense of control.

This is based upon the blamers' belief that the world is fundamentally just and so any dangerous illness, like cancer, must be a type of punishment for bad choices, because in a just world, bad things would not happen to good people.

Cancer causes also costs for informal care. Indirect costs and informal care costs are typically estimated to exceed or equal the health care costs of cancer.

In the United States, cancer is included as a protected condition by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC , mainly due to the potential for cancer having discriminating effects on workers.

Employers may also make hiring or firing decisions based on misconceptions about cancer disabilities, if present. The EEOC provides interview guidelines for employers, as well as lists of possible solutions for assessing and accommodating employees with cancer.

Because cancer is a class of diseases, [] [] it is unlikely that there will ever be a single " cure for cancer " any more than there will be a single treatment for all infectious diseases.

Experimental cancer treatments are studied in clinical trials to compare the proposed treatment to the best existing treatment. Treatments that succeeded in one cancer type can be tested against other types.

The improved understanding of molecular biology and cellular biology due to cancer research has led to new treatments for cancer since US President Richard Nixon declared the " War on Cancer " in Competition for financial resources appears to have suppressed the creativity, cooperation, risk-taking and original thinking required to make fundamental discoveries, unduly favoring low-risk research into small incremental advancements over riskier, more innovative research.

Other consequences of competition appear to be many studies with dramatic claims whose results cannot be replicated and perverse incentives that encourage grantee institutions to grow without making sufficient investments in their own faculty and facilities.

Virotherapy , which uses convert viruses, is being studied. Cancer affects approximately 1 in 1, pregnant women.

The most common cancers found during pregnancy are the same as the most common cancers found in non-pregnant women during childbearing ages: breast cancer, cervical cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma, ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer.

Diagnosing a new cancer in a pregnant woman is difficult, in part because any symptoms are commonly assumed to be a normal discomfort associated with pregnancy.

As a result, cancer is typically discovered at a somewhat later stage than average. Some imaging procedures, such as MRIs magnetic resonance imaging , CT scans , ultrasounds and mammograms with fetal shielding are considered safe during pregnancy; some others, such as PET scans , are not.

Treatment is generally the same as for non-pregnant women. However, radiation and radioactive drugs are normally avoided during pregnancy, especially if the fetal dose might exceed cGy.

In some cases, some or all treatments are postponed until after birth if the cancer is diagnosed late in the pregnancy.

Early deliveries are often used to advance the start of treatment. Surgery is generally safe, but pelvic surgeries during the first trimester may cause miscarriage.

Some treatments, especially certain chemotherapy drugs given during the first trimester , increase the risk of birth defects and pregnancy loss spontaneous abortions and stillbirths.

Elective abortions are not required and, for the most common forms and stages of cancer, do not improve the mother's survival. In a few instances, such as advanced uterine cancer, the pregnancy cannot be continued and in others, the patient may end the pregnancy so that she can begin aggressive chemotherapy.

Some treatments can interfere with the mother's ability to give birth vaginally or to breastfeed. Radiation to the breast reduces the ability of that breast to produce milk and increases the risk of mastitis.

Also, when chemotherapy is given after birth, many of the drugs appear in breast milk, which could harm the baby.

Veterinary oncology , concentrating mainly on cats and dogs, is a growing specialty in wealthy countries and the major forms of human treatment such as surgery and radiotherapy may be offered.

The most common types of cancer differ, but the cancer burden seems at least as high in pets as in humans. Animals, typically rodents, are often used in cancer research and studies of natural cancers in larger animals may benefit research into human cancer.

In non-humans, a few types of transmissible cancer have been described, wherein the cancer spreads between animals by transmission of the tumor cells themselves.

This phenomenon is seen in dogs with Sticker's sarcoma also known as canine transmissible venereal tumor , and in Tasmanian devils with devil facial tumour disease DFTD.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the group of diseases. For other uses, see Cancer disambiguation.

For the Czech rock band, see Malignant Tumour. Group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth and spread. Play media.

Main article: Cancer signs and symptoms. Main article: Metastasis. Main article: Causes of cancer. Further information: Alcohol and cancer and Smoking and cancer.

Main article: Diet and cancer. Main article: Infectious causes of cancer. Main article: Radiation-induced cancer. Main article: Cancer syndrome. Main article: Carcinogenesis.

Main article: Oncogenomics. Main article: Cancer epigenetics. Further information: List of cancer types and List of oncology-related terms.

Main article: Cancer prevention. Main article: Cancer screening. See also: Cancer syndrome. Main articles: Management of cancer and oncology.

Main article: Cancer immunotherapy. Main article: Lasers in cancer treatment. See also: Cancer survival rates , List of cancer mortality rates in the United States , and Cancer survivor.

Main article: Epidemiology of cancer. See also: List of countries by cancer rate. Age-standardized death rate from cancer per 10, people. Main article: History of cancer.

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