Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Overview of Cancer

Overview of Cancer

What is cancer?

It is the nature of cells to divide and increase their number in a process called mitosis. Normal cells divide to replace those lost, or to repair injuries only, then stop dividing.

Cancer is an abnormal, continuous multiplying of cells. The cells divide uncontrollably and may grow into adjacent tissue or spread to distant parts of the body. The mass of cancer cells eventually become large enough to produce lumps, masses, or tumors that can be detected. However, not all tumors are cancer. tumors can be benign or malignant:

What are the general categories of cancers?

There are several general categories of cancer, with carcinomas and adenocarcinomas being the most common:

Brain cancers, nerve cancers, melanomas, and certain testicular and ovarian cancers do not fall into a general category.

What are primary cancers?

Cancers begin in a single cell, and that cell is the site of the primary cancer. The cancer is named for the primary site of origin, such as skin, colon, or breast. For example:

What are metastatic cancers?

Cancer can spread from where it started to other parts of the body.

When cancer spreads to another part of the body, it is called metastatic cancer.

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