Cancer (medical term: malignant neoplasm) is a class of diseases in which a cell, or a group of cells display uncontrolled growth (division beyond the normal limits), invasion (intrusion on and destruction of adjacent tissues), and sometimes metastasis (spread to other locations in the body via lymph or blood). These three malignant properties of cancers differentiate them from benign tumors, which are self-limited, and do not invade or metastasize. Most cancers form a tumor but some, like leukemia, do not. The branch of medicine concerned with the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer is oncology.

Cancer affects people at all ages with the risk for most types increasing with age.It caused about 13% of all human deaths in 2007 (7.6 million). Cancers are primarily an environmental disease with 90-95% of cases due to lifestyle and environmental factors and 5-10% due to genetics. Common environmental factors leading to cancer death include: tobacco (25-30%), diet and obesity (30-35%), infections (15-20%), radiation, stress, physical activity, environmental pollutants. These environmental factors cause abnormalities in the genetic material of cells.

Genetic abnormalities found in cancer typically affect two general classes of genes. Cancer-promoting oncogenes are typically activated in cancer cells, giving those cells new properties, such as hyperactive growth and division, protection against programmed cell death, loss of respect for normal tissue boundaries, and the ability to become established in diverse tissue environments. Tumor suppressor genes are then inactivated in cancer cells, resulting in the loss of normal functions in those cells, such as accurate DNA replication, control over the cell cycle, orientation and adhesion within tissues, and interaction with protective cells of the immune system.

Definitive diagnosis requires the histologic examination of a biopsy specimen, although the initial indication of malignancy can be symptomatic or radiographic imaging abnormalities. Most cancers can be treated and some forced into remission, 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 different varieties of cancer. There has been significant progress in the development of targeted therapy drugs that act specifically on detectable molecular abnormalities in certain tumors, and which minimize damage to normal cells. The prognosis of cancer patients is most influenced by the type of cancer, as well as the stage, or extent of the disease. In addition, histologic grading and the presence of specific molecular markers can also be useful in establishing prognosis, as well as in determining individual treatments.

Headlines Around the Web

Articles About Cancer

Women toss their bras during the 5th Pink Bra Spring and Bra Toss and help Push Up the Fight Against Breast Cancer at the Trocadero Square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Terminally-Ill Australian Mother Fights For Time With Premature Baby; Flooded With Donations

By IBTimes AU

Michelle Buccholtz from Melbourne discovered that her cancer had returned during her third pregnancy. (Nov 22)

MORE TOPICS: BREAST CANCER

Jessie J
Jessie J Shares Battle With Heart Disease: 'I Wished Someone Would Come And Sing To Me'

By IBTimes AU

Jessie J shares how blessed she is for overcoming her Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. (Nov 21)

MORE TOPICS: NEW YORK

Shailene Woodley arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala Benefit in New York
Shailene Woodley Talks About Ansel Elgort's Awful-Smelling Perfume In The GQ's "Men of The Year" issue

By IBTimes AU

Shailene brought out her inner vixen for GQ magazine shoot. (Nov 20)

Peter Norbot and Kris Hamilton (L), dressed up as fictional comic book superhero Spider-Man, look through a magazine as they wait for their turn to audition to be a part of a promotional campaign for the upcoming release of the new movie "The Amazing
Dad’s Bittersweet Spider-Man Surprise For Cancer-Stricken Son Earns Praises

By IBTimes AU (No Google news)

Michael Wilson is being applauded for dressing up as a Spider-Man to surprise his cancer-stricken son. (Nov 20)

MORE TOPICS: UNITED KINGDOM

Police officers in riot gear watch demonstrators protesting against the shooting of Michael Brown from the side of a building in Ferguson, Missouri August 19, 2014.
How Missouri Cops 'Feared For Their Lives' And Attacked An 80-year-old Army Veteran

By IBTimes AU (No Google news)

Bill Swan, 80 years old, was assaulted by the Missouri police when they got into a debate with him on his property. (Nov 20)

The cast and crew of "The Young and the Restless" pose backstage with the award for outstanding drama series during the 41st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Beverly Hills, California June 22, 2014.
‘The Young And The Restless’ Nov. 20 Spoilers: Victoria Decides And Nick Battles ‘Temptation’

By IBTimes AU

"The Young and the Restless" (Y&R) Nov. 20 episode features what happens next for Victoria and her child. Read on for more spoilers. (Nov 20)

MORE TOPICS: LAWYER

The Australian Bachelor Of Season 2 Blake Garvey To Appear on TV Again

By IBTimes AU

Blake Garvey is set to appear on T.V. but this time he will be appearing to raise money for a good cause. (Nov 17)

MORE TOPICS: AUSTRALIA, THAILAND, BREAST CANCER

Computerized image of bowel cancer
Bowel Cancer Rates Increasing In Young Adults

By IBTimes AU

While colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence in older people has declined, a rise in CRC cases among younger patients was foreseen. (Nov 17)

MORE TOPICS: CALIFORNIA

Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge
Pregnant Kate Middleton Mourns The Death Of A Young Cancer Patient: Duchess Had Written Three Letters To The Boy Before His Death

By IBTimes AU

Duchess of Cambridge is sad to hear about her young penpal's death. (Nov 17)

MORE TOPICS: COURT, KATE MIDDLETON

MTV Star Diem Brown Died Due To Cancer At 32

By IBTimes AU

The star died at 32. (Nov 16)

MORE TOPICS: AUSTRALIA, NEW YORK

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