Cancer is a term that encompasses a diverse group of diseases characterized by abnormal cell growth, with over 100 different types. Left untreated, cancer can be fatal.
How Cancer Originates:
The human body consists of countless living cells, each containing genes that govern their functions. Normal cells undergo a cycle of growth, division, and eventual replacement. In most cases, this process occurs in an organized manner. However, sometimes it malfunctions. Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells don't die but persistently multiply in an uncontrolled manner, forming a mass of tissue known as a tumour.
Tumours can be categorized as benign or malignant. Benign tumours remain localized and don't spread to other body parts, posing minimal threat, though they can cause issues if they grow excessively. In contrast, malignant tumours have the potential to invade and damage surrounding tissues, causing severe illness. Not all cancers lead to tumour formation; for example, leukemia, which typically originates in the bone marrow and enters the bloodstream, rarely results in tumours.
Metastasis - The Spread of Cancer:
Cancer cells can spread by migrating to other areas of the body through the bloodstream and lymphatic system, leading to the development of new tumours. This phenomenon is known as metastasis. Importantly, even when cancer spreads, it is still identified based on its site of origin. For instance, if cancer originates in the breast, it's termed breast cancer. If it spreads to other parts of the body, like the liver or bones, it's referred to as metastatic breast cancer.
It is crucial to determine the specific type of cancer one has to receive appropriate treatment due to the vast diversity within this disease category.