Disease and Drug Information

Types of Cancer - Arizona Oncology

Cancer is the general name for over 100 medical conditions involving uncontrolled and dangerous cell growth. Scientists tend to agree that some cancer is caused by genetic factors, while other forms are caused by environmental conditions. Cancer can be classified into two broad types: hematological (malignancies of the blood) and solid tumors.

The three ways that cancer spreads in the body are:

  • Through tissue. Cancer invades the surrounding normal tissue.
  • Through the lymph system. Cancer invades the lymph system and travels through the lymph vessels to other places in the body.
  • Through the blood. Cancer invades the veins and capillaries and travels through the blood to other places in the body.

Cancer begins in the cells in your body. Your cells are constantly dividing and multiplying to replace old, damaged cells. Sometimes cells begin to divide unnecessarily, forming tissue known as a tumor. In most cases, tumors are benign, meaning that they are not cancerous. Benign tumors, although they may cause some health problems depending on their size and location, are not life-threatening.

When abnormal cells begin to divide, a malignant tumor forms. Most malignant tumors grow rapidly and invade nearby organs and tissues. Cancerous cells can also travel through the bloodstream to other areas of the body. When cancer spreads from its original site, the process is known as metastasis.

Fortunately, cancer death rates have been declining. Increasing public awareness has resulted in more people getting regular cancer screenings and practicing healthy lifestyles to reduce their risk.

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