Thursday, January 20, 2011

What is Cancer ?

Cancer—it’s scary word, and a scary disease. Cancer kills a lot of people all over the world. Only heart disease kills more Americans.

But there’s good news too. Millions of people who have had cancer are still alive. Doctors have learned a great deal about treating and preventing cancer.

What is Cancer ?

Cancer can attack any part of the body, including the lungs, shown here. Normal lung tissue is light pink in color, but cancerous lung tissue caused by smoking turns black.

Cancer is not a single disease. It includes more than 100 different diseases. They may affect any part of the body. But they have one thing in common. They are all caused by cells that are out of control.

All living things are made up of cells. An adult human body has about 30 trillion cells—that’s 30,000,000,000,000! Cells reproduce (make more cells) by dividing in half. In an adult body, about 25 million cells divide every second. That’s how the body heals itself.

Sometimes a cell goes out of control and divides over and over. And that’s what cancer is—unhealthy cells, growing and reproducing out of control. These cells are said to be cancerous.
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