Cancer resources
provider pointing to a computer screen at the Allina Health cancer institute, formerly Virginia Piper Cancer Institute

Here for the whole you

At Allina Health, we’re committed to providing the highest quality care for you as a whole person—not just treating your cancer, but also addressing the impacts on your overall physical and mental wellness. At each step, we strive to make your care experience—from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up—as smooth and stress-free as possible, giving you space to focus on healing and recovery.

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Allina Health is the best of the best! From top to bottom and everyone in between! Always someone available for any questions or concerns. They are my “Oncology” family. Oncology nurses ROCK!!! I would never have survived without them.
Dennis S., Allina Health cancer patient

Know what to expect

A cancer diagnosis can change your life in an instant. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, confused, or anxious about what to do next. That’s why we make it easy to find information and resources you need at this difficult time.

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Find info and support that works for you

We offer educational resources by Allina Health's Cancer Institute providers on a variety of cancer types and work to address the needs of the Twin Cities metro and surrounding areas through our many hospitals and cancer centers. Browse these offerings and discover why we're the right partner for your care.
close up of woman seeking cancer treatment in an Allina cancer location

Commonly asked questions about cancer      

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. It can start almost anywhere in the body. Many cancers form tumors, which are masses of tissue.

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In most cases, it is not possible to know exactly why one person gets cancer and another person does not get cancer. Research has shown that there are risk factors that can increase a person’s risk of getting cancer. Some risk factors, such as gender, age and family history, cannot be changed. Other risk factors can be modified to lower your risk.

The most common risk factors include:

  • gender
  • age
  • family history of cancer
  • diet (what you eat and drink)
  • obesity
  • hormones
  • radiation/sunlight
  • tobacco use
  • alcohol use
  • immunosuppression (lowers your body’s ability to fight infection)
  • cancer-causing chemicals or substances

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The most common ways to diagnose cancer include lab tests, a biopsy or imaging tests. Your health care team will use this information to learn more about your symptoms and determine if you have cancer or not.

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You and your doctor will work together to decide on the best treatment plan for your cancer. Treatment options may include one or more of the following:

  • Surgery is a procedure done to remove the cancer from your body.
  • Chemotherapy is medicine given by mouth, injection or through an IV (intravenous) line to destroy cancer cells throughout your whole body.
  • Targeted therapy uses medicines designed to target specific features of cancer cells and stop them from growing and spreading. Immunotherapy and hormone therapy are two common types of targeted therapies.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation (X-rays) to shrink or destroy cancer cells.
  • Clinical trials (cancer treatment studies) are done to try to improve the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.
  • Palliative care is for anyone who is in any stage of an advanced illness. This is care that provides relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both you and your family.

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Your team will include many health care providers who, along with you, will create your health care team. You are the center of your health care team.

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Integrative medicine treats the whole person—body, mind and spirit—at the same time. It puts the person at the center to restore or maintain their health. Integrative medicine can help manage side effects of cancer treatment, decrease inflammation and stress, and improve your well-being and quality of life during and after treatment.

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  • Get regular cancer screenings.
  • Learn if you have a history of cancer in your family.
  • Eat well-balanced meals that include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol.

Learn more about preventive health screenings