What is Cancer?

What is Cancer?


Cancer is a malignant tumor which develops when cells in body begin to grow and reproduce uncontrollably. Normally, human cells grow and reproduce, creating new cells when the body needs them. As the cells age or become damaged, they die and are replaced by new cells. Growth and reproduction of the abnormal or damaged cells can lead to tumor formation.

 Cell division and reproduction is a constant process in the body, but if metabolism is disturbed and does not proceed normally, the cells divide and reproduce at an excessive rate, forming the tumor. Normally, the body is able to balance the growth and division of the cells. When the old or damaged cells die, they are automatically replaced by the new, healthy cells, but if this process fails, the dead cells remain in the body and form a collection called a tumor. The tumors can form anywhere in the body.

Benign and Malignant Tumors

The tumors may be subdivided into benign and malignant ones. Unlike the malignant neoplasms, the benign tumors usually develop slowly, pushing surrounding tissues and not growing into them. The benign tumors are often encapsulated, due to which it is easier to operate on them. The benign tumors do not spread to nearby healthy tissues or transit to other parts of the body.  

Not all the benign tumors require treatment or surgery. If the tumor is small and do not cause problems, a doctor may recommend monitoring it, but if the tumor presses on vital structures such as: organs, blood vessels, or nerves, the treatment is needed.

If Your doctor decides to treat it,  a type of the treatment will depend on the specific location of the tumor. The benign growth may be removed for cosmetic reasons, if it is located in visible place (e.g. on face or neck). The surgery is the most common treatment for the benign tumors. The goal consists in removing the tumor without damaging the surrounding tissues. In rare cases, if the surgery is too risky (the risk of damage to the surrounding tissue is high), the doctor may prescribe radiation therapy or chemotherapy to help to shrink the tumor or prevent it from growing. The cause of the benign formation is difficult to determine, so it is impossible to predict or prevent their occurrence.

More About Cancer

The cancer is a very broad concept which includes many types of the malignant tumors. There exist over 100 different types of the cancer, each diagnosed and treated differently. The most common types of the cancer in the world are breast, lung, colorectal (colon and rectal) cancer (1), less common ones are: multiple myeloma, follicular lymphoma and others.

The cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide, having claimed lives of nearly 10 million people in 2020, and about one-third of cancer deaths are related to smoking, high body mass index, alcohol consumption, low fruit and vegetable intake, and lack of physical activity. (2) Therefore, one way to reduce the risk of this disease is to give up the bad habits and to pay more attention to the balanced diet and regular physical activity.


1. International Agency for Research on Cancer. [Online] December 2020. [Quotation: 10 August 2022 года.] https://ieej.lv/tqviT

2. World Health Organization. [Online] 3 February 2022. [Quotation: 9 August 2022.] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer.

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