What is Cancer?

What is Cancer?

People ask us all the time for a simple definition of ’What is cancer?’ that’s easy to understand. So here are some explanations from around the globe. You can decide which one you best understand.
 
Mayo Clinic: Cancer refers to any one of a large number of diseases characterised by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. Cancer often has the ability to spread throughout the body.
 
US National Cancer Institute: Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.
 

 

Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.
 

 

When cancer develops, however, this orderly process breaks down. As cells become more and more abnormal, old or damaged cells survive when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed. These extra cells can divide without stopping and may form growths called tumors.
 

 

Many cancers form solid tumors, which are masses of tissue. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemias, generally do not form solid tumors.
 

 

Cancer Australia: Cancer is a disease of the cells, which are the body’s basic building blocks. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled way. These abnormal cells can damage or invade the surrounding tissues, or spread to other parts of the body, causing further damage.
 
Dr. John Beard, embryologist 1906: Cancer is like having a baby growing in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Talking about foetal stem cells which grow randomly and out of control in the womb for the first 52 days).
 
Chris Woollams MA (Oxon, Biochemistry): Cancer is a disease rather like having a virus, which wants to run amok and take over your whole body. This ability to spread (malignancy) and damage is what defines cancer.
 
2018 Research
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