Cancer

Cancer is not a single disease but a range of about 200 different conditions caused by collections of abnormal cells dividing uncontrollably.

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Cancer

The word ‘tumour’ is often confused with cancer but actually only means a growth that may or may not be malignant. In other words, it may be ‘benign’, that is non-cancerous, and unable to spread to other parts of the body or recur. All cancers primarily affect older people.

Malignant tumours are the real cancers and they behave differently from benign tumours. There are two broad classes of cancers. Those that arise from surface linings of organs are the commonest group and are called carcinomas. The second group called sarcomas, arise from the substance of solid tissues such as muscle, bone, lymph glands, blood vessels and other connective tissues. Sarcomas are generally much less common than carcinomas. Both carcinomas and sarcomas are able to invade normal tissue and spread through the body.

Cancer has many causes and not all are known. But there are certain general guidelines, however, which help reduce your risk from cancer.

Most cancers appear to be caused by a combination of factors including smoking, diet, sunlight, environmental factors, and inheritance.

The evidence linking cancer of the lung, for instance, to cigarette smoking is now overwhelming. But smoking can also cause cancer of the tongue and bladder and various other organs. The cancer-producing substances in cigarette smoke are absorbed into the blood and get everywhere in the body.

Similarly, excessive exposure to sunlight and regular contact with substances such as soot, tar, creosote, pitch and various mineral oils are known to cause skin cancer. See sections on specific cancers for information on their causes.


Other sources of information for these topics.

American Cancer Society Homepage
The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health
problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering ...

National Cancer Institute - www.cancer.gov Home Page
The US National Institute of Health's cancer research wing.

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