Saturday, September 4, 2010

What is cancer?

The body is made up of hundreds of millions of living cells. Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly way. During the early years of a person's life, normal cells divide faster to allow the person to grow. After the person becomes an adult, most cells divide only to replace worn-out, damaged, or dying cells.

Cancer begins when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of this out-of-control growth of abnormal cells.

Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells keep on growing and form new cancer cells. These cancer cells can grow into (invade) other tissues, something that normal cells cannot do. Being able to grow out of control and invade other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell.

In most cases the cancer cells form a tumor. But some cancers, like leukemia, rarely form tumors. Instead, these cancer cells are in the blood and bone marrow.

When cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels, they can travel to other parts of the body. There they begin to grow and form new tumors that replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis (muh-tas-tuh-sis).

No matter where a cancer may spread, it is always named for the place where it started. For instance, breast cancer that has spread to the liver is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer. Likewise, prostate cancer that has spread to the bone is called metastatic prostate cancer, not bone cancer.

Different types of cancer can behave very differently. For example, lung cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases. They grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. That is why people with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their own kind of cancer.

Not all tumors are cancerous. Tumors that aren't cancer are called benign (be-nine). Benign tumors can cause problems-- they can grow very large and press on healthy organs and tissues. But they cannot grow into other tissues. Because of this, they also can't spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). These tumors are almost never life threatening.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Breast cancer risks

To date, most inherited cases of breast cancer have been associated with two genes: BRCA1, which stands for BReast CAncer gene one, and BRCA2, or BReast CAncer gene two. Get more information about genetic abnormities and breast cancer.

The function of these genes is to keep breast cells growing normally and to prevent any cancer cell growth. But when these genes contain abnormalities, or mutations, they are associated with an increased breast cancer risk. Abnormal BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may account for up to 10% of all breast cancers.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer who have an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene often have a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both. But it's also important to remember that most women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

Identifying BRCA1 and BRCA2 has led to new techniques for lowering, detecting, and treating breast cancer and lowering the risk for the disease. For women who wish to be tested, we can now establish whether the two genes are normal or not.

But there's still a lot more to learn about these genes. And other genes probably also play a role in the development of breast cancer, for women both with and without a family history of the disease.

This section covers genes and breast cancer risk. For specific information about genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, visit the Genetic Testing section.

The medical experts for Breast Cancer and Genetics are:

* Rachael Brandt, M.S., C.G.C., genetic counselor, Main Line Health Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA
* Generosa Grana, M.D., F.A.C.P., breast cancer genetics specialist, Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center, Camden, NJ
* Marisa C. Weiss, M.D., breast radiation oncologist, Lankenau Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University Health System, Philadelphia, PA

These experts are members of the Professional Advisory Board

Friday, August 27, 2010


To prevent this you should learn about areas you often frequent like a worksite or home. Learn about its past and if there has been any large asbestos reports. If there has been and you are prone to mesothelioma then try wearing a mask in high concentrated areas to prevent the breathing in of asbestos. Especially if you work in demolition or construction. Mesothelioma, more precisely malignant mesothelioma, is a rare form of cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many of the body's internal organs, the mesothelium. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos.
Its most common site is the pleura (outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall), but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), the heart, the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart) or tunica vaginalis.
Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or they have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways. It has also been suggested that washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos can put a person at risk for developing mesothelioma. Unlike lung cancer, there is no association between mesothelioma and smoking, but smoking greatly increases the risk of other asbestos-induced cancers. Compensation via asbestos funds or lawsuits is an important issue in mesothelioma.