Cancer Information

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a name given to a collection of related diseases.

Some of the body's cells begin to divide without stopping like they are supposed to do. This happens when there is a breakdown in the usually orderly process of cell growth and division to replace old cells with new ones. These cancer cells may spread into neighoring tissues or spread (metastatize) to other parts of the body.

Cancer can develop in almost any part of the body. 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). Some happen because of exposure over time to things like cigarette smoke, excess sun or other "environmental factors" that damage the DNA. Some abnormalities randomly occur over time as cells divide to make new ones. It usually takes a combination of abnormalities to cause cancer to occur; this is one reason the risk of developing cancer typically increases with age.

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, it is natural for you and your family to want to learn more about it. Lots of information is available online, but not all of it is accurate or credible. Here we provide links to a variety of sources about cancer that we hope you find helpful.

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.