The following information will help answer some of your questions about cancer. It will also provide information about the different ways to treat cancer.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease where cells in your body grow out of control and invade different tissues in your body. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. As cells grow old, they die and the new cells take their place. If new cells form when the body does not need them, or old cells don't die when they should, these extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a tumor. Not all cancers form tumors. For example, leukemia which is cancer of the blood-forming tissue does not form a solid tumor.
How does cancer spread to different parts of the body?
Cancer cells can spread by traveling through the bloodstream and lymphatic system, which carries blood and cells to all parts of the body.
Once the cancer cells reach their new destination, they begin to grow.
When cancer spreads from one part of the body to another, this is called metastasis.
How is cancer treated?
Your cancer treatment depends on many factors, including:
- Type of cancer you have
- Stage of your cancer (the severity of the cancer based on the size and/or extent of the cancer and whether it has spread)
- Your general health or preferences
The goal of treatment is to kill or remove cancer cells and to bring your cancer into remission (when the cancer is under control and/or is responding to treatment) or to cure you of the cancer.
Most people will have a combination of treatments, which may include:
- Medication therapy — Uses medications to kill or slow the growth and spread of cancer cells. It can include targeted therapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy.
- Radiation therapy — Uses energy beams to kill cancer cells and tumors
- Surgery — Removes cancer from the body
- Immunotherapy — Helps your immune system fight cancer
- Stem cell transplant — Procedure that restores blood–forming stem cells in people who have had theirs destroyed by high doses of cancer treatment
View a video with more information on Cancer treatment and care.
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