Our body is made up of millions of cells, grouped together to form tissues and organs such as muscles and bones, the lungs and the liver (Canadian Cancer Society). Cancer is a class of disease which starts in our cells and is characterized by out-of-control cell growth (Medical News Today).
Genes inside each cell order it to grow, work, reproduce and die (Canadian Cancer Society). Usually the cells remain healthy and obey these orders, but sometimes, the cells become abnormal, causing the cells to grow into lumps or tumours, or spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other locations of the body.
Cancer is a general name for a group of more than 100 diseases, and each is classified by the type of cell that is initially affected. Untreated cancer can cause serious illness or death if the disease is not detected and treated promptly (Canadian Cancer Society).
Almost half of all Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, and one-quarter of Canadians are expected to die of the disease. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, responsible for 30% of all deaths (Canadian Cancer Statistics, 2017).
To learn about different cancer types, please see below.