One half of men and one third of women will get cancer in their lifetime. ½ million people are going to die this year, that’s more than 1,500 people per day! One in eight deaths in the world is due to cancer. Cancer causes more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. Cancer is a disease that’s preventable, curable, and deadly.
Cancer is a disease when abnormal cells divide without control and invade other tissues in the body. Normal cells divide in a regulated way to generate new cells that are needed to keep the body healthy. Cancer cells are when the normal cell division process goes awry. When this happens cells don’t die like they’re supposed to, and new cells are produced when the body doesn’t need them. When cancer cells form a lump of tissue it’s called a tumor. There are two types of tumors, malignant, and benign. A benign tumor isn’t cancerous, and can often be removed, and in most cases, they don’t come back. Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body like malignant tumors. Malignant tumors are cancerous. The cells within the malignant tumor spread from one part of the body to another and also invade nearby tissue which is called metastasis.
Cancers are classified by the area in the body in which it originates. It is also measured by what stage the cancer is in. Staging is based on the size of the original tumor and whether it has spread to any other parts of the body. Staging helps doctors plan treatments, estimate prognosis, and find out what treatment would work the most effectively. More staging elements would be the number of tumors, whether or not the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tumor grade (how closely cancer cells and tissue simulate normal cells and tissue.) Doctors use what is called the TNM system which is used to stage the cancer. The TNM system is based on the size of the primary tumor, how much it has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and whether or not it has started metastasis. Once the staging process is over we can see what severity the cancer is. Stage 0 is carcinoma in situ; Stage 1-3 is a more extensive disease where the tumor is larger and the cancer has spread beyond the organ in which it originated. Stage 5 is when the cancer has spread to distant tissue or organs.
Most cancers have TNM designation, but some do not. Some cancers like brain and spinal cord cancer, are staged by their cell type and grade. Most cancer registries use “summary staging.” This style of staging cancer puts cancer into five main categories, in situ, localized, regional, distant, and unknown. The types of tests used to determine stage are physical exams, imaging studies, laboratory tests, pathology reports, and surgical reports. Physical exams may show the location and size of the tumor and the spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes or to other tissues and organs. Imaging studies show us pictures of inside the body by x-rays, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and positron...