29 June 2009
Cancer is a group of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably beyond normal limits resulting in disruption of the normal balance between new cell growth and old cell death. These abnormal cells are able to intrude and destroy adjacent tissues and sometimes spread to other distant locations in the body via lymph or blood. Cancer can affect nearly every organ in the human body.
Where Does Cancer Originate?
Cells are what make up the organs and tissues of the human body. Normal body cells grow and divide in a tightly controlled way as they are needed and die when the body no longer needs them, being replaced by new cells. Cancer cells differ from normal cells in their ability to continuously grow and divide, outliving normal cells. Uncontrolled cell division can happen in any type of cell in the body and causes can be multi-factorial.
However, it usually results from defects or damage in one or more of the genes involved in cell division. This uncontrolled cell division and growth ultimately results in the formation of a mass or growth, called a tumour. These growths can be either benign or malignant.
Benign tumours are considered non-cancerous, are rarely life threatening and do not spread to other parts of the body. They can often be removed and, in most cases, do not come back.
Malignant tumours are made up of cancer cells and are confined to its original site when it first develops. If these cells are not treated they may spread into surrounding tissue and to other parts of the body. On reaching a new site, they may start to grow and form another tumour at that site. This is called a secondary cancer or metastasis.