What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease contracted by people of all ages, genders, and ethnic backgrounds. No one is immune from the disease.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body.
Cancer is something that begins on a cellular level, and can be triggered by erroneous signals transmitted by DNA. In genes, proteins are produced that signal or direct cellular growth. The malfunction of a "DNA molecule" disrupts the work of the molecule's genes, which then make "faulty proteins."
The abnormal cell begins to divide uncontrollably and eventually forms a new growth known as a tumor or neoplasm...
The uncontrolled, abnormal cells attack healthy cells. If doctors are able to reach the cancer in time, they can remove it and many times treat the area (e.g., radiation, chemotherapy) in order to stop the cancer from returning/spreading. If it is not stopped, it kills so many healthy cells that the body can no longer function. If it spreads, it can make its way into "systems" (such the lymphatic or circulatory systems) that work throughout the body: with cancer, when it gains entry into these systems, it spreads at an alarming rate and can be difficult—even impossible—to stop.
While anyone can get cancer, certain people are predisposed for multiple reasons. The first catalyst for the disease is the environment, particularly dangerous agents in water, land, air, etc. People who smoke, drink excessively, and/or have poor diets can contract the disease. It can also be passed down from one generation to the next:
...approximately 50% of all cancers are classified as hereditary (genetic).
It is important that people are mindful of living in healthy environments (avoiding things like asbestos); that they exercise and eat well; that they avoid cancer-causing behaviors (smoking, drinking); and, that they have regular check-ups and cancer screenings, especially if cancer runs in the family.
When cells of the body begin to grow at an uncontrolled rate, this is what is known as a cancer or malignant cell. Cancer can form almost anywhere in the body. Sometimes, the cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body either by the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. Cells that are cancerous have a mutation in them that causes this uncontrolled reproduction. These abnormal cells do not die when they should and sometimes new cells form when the body doesn't need them. Cancer disrupts the normal functioning of the cell cycle. This occurs because the DNA inside the cell becomes damaged. Many things can cause cancer--genetic predispostion, alcohol consumption, exposure to chemicals, radiation, obesity, viruses and even toxins in the environment. For some cancers, the causes remain unknown. A mass of cells can form a tumor. It may be benign, which means it is not cancerous and doesn't spread to other areas in the body, or it can be malignant--these cells are cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body.