Cancer is a group of over 100 diseases that begin in cells, the body's basic unit of life. Normally, cells grow and divide to produce more cells only when the body needs them. However, sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. The genetic material (DNA) of a cell can become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. When this happens, cells do not die when they should and new cells form when the body does not need them. The extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor. Tumors can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous).
The cells in malignant tumors can invade and damage nearby tissue and organs. Cancer cells can also break away from a malignant tumor and travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to form new tumors in other parts of the body.
Cancer types can be grouped into broader categories. The main categories of cancer include:
For more information on the types of cancer, click here to go to OncoLink, the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania's award-winning cancer resource - the oldest, largest, and most trusted source for cancer information on the Internet.
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