Cancer is an uncontrolled malignant growth of abnormal cells (aka carcinoma, sarcoma or tumor) within parts of the body or organs; carcinomas can eventually result in death, should they spread from the site of origin to vital organs. More than 200 different kinds of cancers exist, and malignancies can arise in virtually any part or system of the body, from the brain and lungs to the colon, skin and blood.
The American Cancer Society has defined the following as warning signs that can commonly lead to a diagnosis of cancer:
- a change in bowel or bladder habits
- a sore that does not heal
- unusual bleeding or drainage
- thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
- indigestion or swallowing difficulty
- a change in a wart or mole
- persistent cough or hoarseness
Treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these; each option carries a different set of risks and side-effects. One leading-edge form of radiation treatment, called proton beam therapy, can precisely target certain types of localized cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues. Survival rates increase with early detection and treatment; see a physician promptly if you are experiencing any warning signs of cancer.
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