What is Cancer?

Cancer is the term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer starts when cells start to grow out of control. Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth.  Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade (grow into) other tissues, something that normal cells cannot do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell.

The National Cancer Institute defines cancer as not just one disease but many diseases. There are over 100 different types of cancer. Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which they start - for example, cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer. No matter where a cancer may spread, it’s always named for the place where it started. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the liver is called metastatic breast cancer, not liver cancer.

Different types of cancer can behave very differently. For instance, lung cancer and skin cancer grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. This is why people with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their kind of cancer.

Today, there are millions of people who are living with cancer or have had cancer. The risk of developing many types of cancer can be reduced by changes in a person’s lifestyle, for example, by staying away from tobacco, limiting time in the sun, being physically active, and eating healthy. There are also screening tests that can be done for some types of cancers. The earlier a cancer is found and treated before it has spread, the better the chances are for living for many years.

NONDISCRIMINATION NOTICE STATEMENT
West Tennessee Healthcare (WTH) does not exclude, deny benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, Limited English Proficiency or sex, including discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, sex stereotyping or pregnancy in admission to, participation in, or receipt of the services and benefits under any of its programs and activities, whether carried out by WTH directly or through a contractor or any other entity with which WTH arranges to carry out its programs and activities.

For further information about this policy, contact Amy Garner (731) 660-1188.