What Is Cancer? What Causes Cancer & How Is It Treated?

One out of every two men and one out of every three women will be diagnosed with
cancer, but despite those huge numbers most individuals don’t know what that
really means. At the simplest level cancer or cancer cells are cells that
have lost the ability to follow the normal control that the body exerts on
all cells. In our body we have billions and billions of cells and they have
different functions. It’s a very complicated process under incredibly
phenomenal control and if something goes wrong and that control is lost then
particular cells escape the normal control mechanisms and they continue to
grow and they may spread. That’s what we call cancer. Those cells together we
would call that a tumor. Specifically cancer is a malignant tumor and we call
it malignant because not only can it invade into adjacent organs but
unfortunately a cancer can spread to other tissues and that can be
life-threatening. Cancer can actually occur anywhere in the body because
there are cells everywhere in the body. In women one of the most common cancers of
course is breast cancer and in men prostate cancer and in both men and
women lung cancer and colon cancer are common cancers. It’s important to
understand that the cancer that occurs in one individual is very different than
the cancer that occurs in another just like those individuals are different. So
a lung tumor in one person will be very different from a lung tumor in another
person. Once the diagnosis of cancer is made of course the next obvious question
is what do you do? There are several things that are really relevant. The
stage of the cancer which is information about where is the cancer. You say it’s a
particular kind of cancer. How much cancer is present? Has it spread? Is it
in lymph nodes? Has it spread to other organs of the body? Cancer treatment
actually is very complex and part of the reason is because cancer is this
constellation of over 200 different diseases. They have common
characteristics but they’re all very different from each other. In addition to
that the cancer itself is not homogeneous. There may be three or four
or five or six different slight variations in the cancer cells that are
there. People ask why? Why does my cancer not go away? It shrunk by 70%. What’s
wrong with the other 30%? Well it’s probably a different subtype of that
cancer which is going to require a different kind of treatment. There are
three primary therapies for cancer. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Surgery works by directly removing the tumor. The radiation therapy provides
x-rays to kill individual cells and the chemotherapy provides chemicals that can
kill those individual cells but they have side effects. The best therapies
that we can produce really are the result of optimizing the amount of tumor
that we can kill by any treatment and minimizing the amount of damage that we
cause to the normal cells that would be affected by that treatment. At Cancer
Treatment Centers of America we have a very robust integrative oncology program.
Integrative oncology is taking those conventional oncology treatments and
integrating those with therapies like acupuncture, naturopathic medicine,
chiropractic, nutrition to blend those together and to create the most
appropriate treatment plan for that individual patient at that moment in
time. Cancer Treatment Centers of America has invested in a model in which all of
the effects of cancer and its therapy are aggressively treated and managed.
It’s not just enough to kill the cancer if we don’t treat the pain, the fatigue,
the depression or the anxiety that comes with a diagnosis of cancer. Receiving a
diagnosis of cancer can be a frightening thing. The good news is that
today is probably the most exciting time in history in terms of the treatment of
cancer. Options that didn’t exist a few months ago certainly didn’t exist a few
years ago like the ability to genomically profile a tumor and to take
that individualized fingerprint of that cancer may direct us to tailor treatment
in very specific ways. We believe that in the future many more patients with a
number of different tumor types will potentially be able to benefit from the
advances in precision medicine. There are very hopeful options that are available
to us as clinicians to make a difference in patients lives and it’s therefore
just as important for patients to know that so that they have those hopeful
options and they take advantage of them.

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