Cancer refers to any one of many diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably, and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. Cancer is often able to spread throughout the body, as well. It’s the second leading cause of death in the United States.
Some general signs and symptoms associated with, but not specific to cancer include:
- Lump or thickening that can be felt under the skin
- Weight changes, including unintended loss or gain
- Skin changes, such as yellowing, darkening, redness, sores that don’t heal, or changes to existing moles
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
- Persistent cough or trouble breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising
Tumors, also known as neoplasms, are abnormal masses of tissue which may be solid or fluid-filled. A tumor does not automatically mean cancer – tumors can be benign (not cancerous), pre-malignant (pre-cancerous), or malignant (cancerous).
There are many different types of tumors and a variety of names for them – their names usually reflect their shape and the kind of tissue they appear in. Put simply, a tumor is a kind of lump or swelling that does not necessarily pose a health threat.
Cancer takes on many forms and can be a very frightening diagnosis. But survival rates are improving for many types of cancer, thanks to improvements in cancer screening and treatment.