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 (via Canadian Cancer Society). Cancer is a class of disease which starts in our cells and is characterized by out-of-control cell growth (via Medical News Today).
Genes inside each cell order it to grow, work, reproduce and die (via 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 (via Canadian Cancer Society).
About two in five Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, and one in four will die of the disease. An estimated 202,400 new cases of cancer will occur in Canada in 2016, which will cause an estimated 78,800 deaths (Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016).
To learn about different cancer types, please see below.