We're learning more about cancer every day. There are many different types of cancer and researchers are developing better and more effective treatments for all of them. The physicians at Cancer Care are highly experienced, compassionate and up-to-date on the newest and most effective cancer treatments.
If you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, your doctor will be able to provide you with important information about the disease and its treatment but here are some basic facts you'll find helpful.
Cells are the basic building blocks of our body – cancer cells are destructive ones that grow and depending on the type of cancer can spread rapidly. You can have cancer anywhere in your body. Having a close family member with a history of cancer raises your risk, but the truth is that most cancers are not hereditary. For example, over 80% of new breast cancer patients have no family members who've had breast cancer – and this is also true of most other types of cancer.
We don't yet know what causes cancer but scientists are learning more about factors that raise an individual's risk. Besides heredity, cancer is linked to certain lifestyle behaviors (including, but not limited to, smoking, alcohol abuse, being overweight, lack of exercise and poor eating habits).
A few of the terms doctors use when discussing cancer are:
- Staging, which describes the location and extent of cancer as a way to help identify the best treatment. There are different methods for staging different types of cancer but commonly this is done with a surgical biopsy or an imaging study. Generally speaking, a lower stage (stage I or stage II) describe cancer that is contained within one site in the body while higher stages (III or IV) indicate that the cancer is more extensive.
- Prognosis is a doctor's educated guess of the outcome of cancer after treatment, based on the specific cancer type and stage and how other patients have responded.
- Metastasis refers to cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
The term "cure" refers to cancer that is totally eliminated and will never come back. Patients who are cured can expect to have a normal life expectancy. The determination of a particular type of cancer's "curability" is based on scientific studies that report outcomes for patients with the same cancer and same stage using current available treatments. Whether or not a particular person will be cured or not depends on many variables, often not predictable. Also some cancers are slow-growing so it's possible for patients to live long lives even with an "incurable" form of cancer.
The term "remission" refers to a partial or complete disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer. Although cancer remission suggest on excellent response to treatment, it does not guarantee that every cancer cell is gone from the body.
Our Cancer Care team excels in the treatment of cancer, with special expertise in the following areas: