Cancer – this term covers many different diseases that can have very diverse symptoms and courses. One thing they have in common: The diagnosis of cancer is shocking and is often associated with hopelessness and incurability. However, thanks to new findings and improved treatment approaches, cancer mortality in Germany has been declining for years and more than half of the patients can hope for a permanent cure.
What is cancer?: Cells of our own body can change so that they can no longer fulfill their actual function, for example as liver cells. Instead, they multiply uncontrollably and spread into healthy tissue. This can lead to tissue and organs no longer functioning properly. If cancer progresses very far, those affected can die from it.
Cancer can develop anywhere and is usually named for the part of the body where it started; for example breast cancer, lung cancer, leukemias or soft tissue sarcomas.
Many types of cancer initially grow as a tumor at a specific location in the body. Experts refer to this as a tumor or neoplasia. This term means new formation of body tissue.
There are benign, semi-malignant and malignant tumors:
- Benign tumors do not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body.
- Semi-malignant tumors spread into surrounding tissue but do not form metastases.
- Malignant tumors are typically called cancer: they can spread to distant sites via the bloodstream or the lymphatic system and form metastases.
There are also types of cancer that do not form solid tumors. They arise from blood cells or their precursors. These cancer cells displace healthy blood cells and disrupt their normal function.
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