Cancer has become a buzzword in health circles because of the increased occurrence that has been observed in recent times. The etymology of Cancer suggests it is Latin for crab. It was used to mean a malignancy because of the crab-like tendency a malignant tumor seems to demonstrate in grasping the tissues it invades. Cancer is a disease characterized by an abnormal growth of cells which proliferate in an uncontrolled manner and, in some cases, to metastasize (spread). Theses cells then invade other tissues, either by direct growth into adjacent tissue through invasion or by implantation into distant sites by metastasis. Metastasis is defined as the stage in which cancer cells are transported through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
A cancerous growth or tumor is sometimes referred to as a malignant growth or tumor. Benign tumors are non-malignant. Benign tumors are not considered as cancer. Cancer may affect people at all ages, but risk tends to increase with age, due to the fact that DNA damage becomes more apparent in aging DNA. Cancer is not one disease. It is a group of more than 100 different and distinctive diseases. Cancer is not contagious.
There are many types of cancer. Some of the most common ones are prostrate cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, skin cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, throat cancer, and bladder cancer to list a few. Among theses prostrate cancer is most common in males while breast cancer in females. The cancer with lowest incidence is thyroid cancer.
Severity of symptoms depends on the site and character of the malignancy and whether there is metastasis. A definitive diagnosis usually requires the histological examination of tissue by a pathologist. This tissue is obtained by biopsy or surgery. Most cancers can be treated and some cured, depending on the specific type, location, and stage. Once diagnosed, cancer is usually treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. As research develops, treatments are becoming more specific for the type of cancer pathology. Drugs that target specific cancers already exist for several cancers. If untreated, cancers may eventually cause illness and death, though this is not always the case.