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Cancer-How It Actually Kills You

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What Is Cancer?

When you hear the word "cancer", chances are that you
think of it as a single disease, like "pneumonia" or "AIDs".  
But this is somewhat misleading.

Cancer is the name we give to
any illness that results when
our body's own cells grow out of control.

out of control.  That's the key distinction.

All cells grow. That is what they are intended to do.  Cell
growth occurs naturally billions and billions of times each
day in our bodies.  You cut your finger. Some cells die. The
cut heals. Some cells grow.   You brush your hair. Old hair,
made up of dead cells, falls out. New hair grows in from the
roots.  You age. Some brain cells die. You learn. Some brain
cells are born.

Billions and billions of these cell transactions go on everyday
without us noticing them. Cells are created from the division
of other cells. They do what they are supposed to do--carry
blood, help us grow new hair, mend a cut finger --then they
take a bow, exit the stage and die, only to be replaced
instantaneaously by the new kids on the block.

We humans are forever renewing ourselves.  The skin you
have covering your body has been sloughed off and rebuilt
many times since you were a baby. Your head of hair is not
the same head of hair you had as an infant.There are many
processes that control a cell’s growth and division, each of
which can go wrong. As a general rule-of-thumb,
several of
these control mechanisms need to be damaged before a cell
becomes cancerous.

There are between 50 and 75 trillion cells in the human
body. That's "trillion", with a "t".  A trillion is 1000 billion. 1
million million. A lot.  So, when we say that cells are dividing
billions and billions of times each day we are not

So, what is cancer?  Cancer-- out of control growth-- occurs
when one --just one --of those 50 trillion cells goes wacky.  
It comes on stage, does its job, but when it is time to exit
and die, it doesn't leave. It hangs on, and keeps on growing
and growing. Article Continues Below.

Cancer is a collection of over 200 diseases in which cells of
an organ or tissue in the body become abnormal, growing
and multiplying out of control. Normal cells have a life cycle
and they reproduce themselves throughout the body in an
orderly and controlled manner. Normal growth continues
throughout life to replace worn out tissue, to heal wounds,
and to maintain healthy organs. When cells grow out of
control, they usually form a mass, called a tumour.

Some tumours grow and enlarge only at the site where they
begin and these are referred to as benign tumours. Other
tumours not only enlarge locally but also have the potential
to invade and destroy the normal tissue around them and to
spread to distant parts of the body. Such tumours are called
malignant tumours or cancers.

Distant spread of a cancer occurs when malignant cells
become detached from the original (primary) tumour, get
carried to other parts of the body and establish themselves
in the new site as an independent (secondary) cancer. A
tumour that has spread in this manner is said to have
metastasized and the secondary tumour (or tumours) is
called a metastasis (or metastases).

Cancer is an equal-opportunity disease. It afflicts the poor
and the rich, the old and the young. Several Us Presidents
have had cancer. Here is a list:

Abraham Lincoln had cancer in office
Ulysses Grant died of throat cancer, but not in office.
Grover Cleveland had jaw cancer in office.
Herbert Hoover had intestinal cancer, but not in office.
Franklin Roosevelt, possibly had melanoma while in office,
still disputed.
Dwight Eisenhower had melanoma, but not in office.
Ronald Reagan colon cancer, colonic polyps, and skin cancer
while in office.
Bill Clinton had basal cell carcinoma while in office.

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