Monday, April 28, 2008
What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease of cells. It is an abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way and, in some cases, to metastasize(spread).
Cancer is also called malignancy. A cancerous growth or tumor is sometimes referred to as a malignant growth or malignant tumor.
A non-malignant growth or tumor is referred to as benign. Benign tumors are not cancer. Cancer is not one disease. It is a group of more than 100 different and distinctive diseases.
Cancer is NOT contagious. Cancer can involve any tissue of the body and have many different forms in each body area. Most cancers are named for the type of cell or organ in which they start.
If a cancer spreads (metastasizes) , the new tumor bears the same name as the original (primary) tumor.
Cancer is the Latin word for crab. The ancients used the word to mean a malignancy, doubtless because of the crab-like tenacity a malignant tumor sometimes seems to show in grasping the tissues it invades.
Cancer may also be called malignancy, a malignant tumor, or a neoplasm (literally, a new growth).
How many people die of cancer each year? The following table gives the estimated numbers of new cases and deaths for each common cancer type:
Cancer Type Estimated New Cases Estimated Deaths
Bladder Cancer 61,420 13,060
Breast Cancer (Male included) 212,920 - 1,720 40,970 - 460
Colon and Rectal (combined) 148,610 55,170
Endometrial Cancer (Uterine) 41,200 7,350
Kidney Cancer (renal cell) 31,890 10,530
Leukemia (all) 35,070 22,280
Lung Cancer (including bronchus) 174,470 162,460
Melanoma 62,170 7,910
Non-Hodgkin' s Lymphoma 58,870 18,840
Pancreatic Cancer 33,370 32,300
Prostate Cancer 234,460 27,350
Skin Cancer (non-melanoma) >1,000,000 Not Available
Thyroid Cancer 30,180 1,500
SOURCE: National Cancer Institute