What is cancer? The term cancer refers to a condition where body cells become abnormal and grow out of control. Left untreated, cancer causes illness and may cause death as the abnormal cells begin to invade other parts of the body.
Cells become cancerous when their DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which serves as a cell’s control center, is damaged. Healthy cells can repair their own DNA, but cancerous cells cannot. Usually, if a cell’s DNA cannot be repaired it will die. When cells are cancerous, the cells continue to live despite their damaged DNA, multiplying rapidly.
Cells with abnormal DNA can be inherited, however, the majority of DNA damage is caused by environmental factors or mistakes which happen as normal cells reproduce. Cancer can affect almost any part of the body. You can find out more about specific cancer types by visiting ProMedica’s online health library.
Want to research diseases and conditions? Do this and more by using the A.D.A.M. encyclopedia. With 3,900 articles and 3,000 medical illustrations and images, it’s one of the world’s largest and continually updated online consumer health information libraries.