Over their lifetimes, one in every two American men and one in three American women will get cancer.
Cancer is a general term for more than 100 diseases caused by uncontrolled, abnormal cell growth and death. The four most common cancers affect the breasts, colon or rectum, lungs and prostate.
Healthy cells that make up body tissues grow, divide and replace themselves in an orderly way. But sometimes cells lose their ability to limit and direct their growth. Too much tissue forms and tumors develop.
Early detection and treatment can prevent cancer from spreading.
Anyone can get cancer, especially if someone in your family has had it.
Cancer is not one disease and its symptoms, treatment and outlook depend on the organ it affects. The earlier cancer is spotted, the more likely it can be stopped. That is why it's important to watch for these warning signs:
If you notice any one of those symptoms, have it checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
Years ago, a diagnosis of cancer almost always meant death. But continuing advances in detection and treatment have made cancer a chronic illness that may be stopped, even cured.
Nonetheless, a cancer diagnosis often comes as a shock. Knowledge and support can help you deal with the reality.
American Cancer Society, Cancer Statistics 2009 Presentation; National Cancer Institute
Timothy Sielaff, MD, PhD, FACS, president, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute®