What is cancer

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Cancer is a serious sickness that can affect many different parts of the body. If it is treated early it is often curable, but if left too long it can cause death. Many people who get cancer die from it, especially those with little access to health care.

All living things, like the human body, are made up of tiny cells that are too small to see without a microscope. Sometimes these cells change and grow in an abnormal way, causing growths (tumors). Some growths go away without treatment. But some growths get larger or spread and may cause health problems. Most growths do not become cancer, but some do.

Cancer starts when some cells begin to grow out of control and take over parts of the body. When cancer is found early, it can often be removed by surgery, or treated with medicines or radiation, and the chance of it being cured may be good. Once cancer spreads, however, curing it is more difficult and eventually becomes impossible.

Cancer of the cervix, breast, and womb are the most common ‘women’s’ cancers. Other common cancers that both men and women get are cancer of the lung, colon, liver, stomach, mouth, and skin.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en011402