We understand that this is a big place and that cancer can be confusing. Here's a guide to help you decide what to explore on our website based on where in a cancer journey you find yourself or someone you love. We start with cancer prevention and healthy living information and go throughout the cancer experience, from screening and diagnosis through treatment, survivorship and more. (If you are looking for information about services for pediatric cancers, visit our Childhood Cancer Program).
Always, if you have a question, are concerned about something you've heard or read online, or don't understand what you've been told by your medical team, ask your doctor, nurse or other member of your care team.
Cancer is a collection of related diseases in which the body's cells begin to divide without stopping like they should. There is a breakdown in the orderly process of cell growth and division. The cancer cells that are produced may spread into neighoring tissues or to other parts of the body (metastasize).
Cancer happens when there are abnormalities in the DNA that direct how your body forms and grows. Some of these abnormalities may be passed from parent to child (inherited), and some happen because of exposure to things like cigarette smoke, excess sun or other environmental factors. Some abnormalities randomly occur as cells divide to make new ones. It usually takes a combination of abnormalities to cause cancer; this is one reason the risk of developing cancer increases with age.
Learn more about cancer types A-Z from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer.
Check out the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center's glossary of cancer terms.
Visit the National Cancer Institute website.