Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of an abnormal cell in the human body. It can originate from almost any organ. Genetic and environmental factors can contribute to transforming healthy cells into cancerous growths. Cancer is commonly in the form of a centralized tumor, however if not treated it can continue to grow and invade adjacent tissue and spread to other parts of the body (metastasize).
Treatment of cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage. Stage refers to the quantity of cancer in the body. Stage is commonly scored from 1 to 4. The earliest stage is 1. Stage 4 represents distant spread and is generally considered incurable.
Most cancers are also given a “grade” which describes the quality or aggressiveness of the malignancy.
Treatments for cancer most commonly include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Some cancers require a combination of treatments.
- Surgery – Removal of the cancerous growth
- Chemotherapy – An oral or intravenous (IV) medication that kills cancers cells
- Radiation – Focused X-ray treatment that destroys cancer cells
While not all cancers can be cured, researchers have made tremendous strides in cancer treatment in the past 40 years. Treatments have become increasingly effective and targeted. Advances in medicine have also resulted in much more effective management of treatment side effects.