There are more than 100 types of cancer. They are characterized by the uncontrolled abnormal growth of cells and can start anywhere in the body. Types are usually named for the organs or tissues where the cancer forms, or may be described by the type of cell that formed the cancer. Many cancers form a lump or mass, called a tumor. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemia, do not form solid tumors. Metastasis is when cancer spreads to a different part of the body from where it started.
General signs and symptoms of cancer include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Skin changes
Having any of these symptoms does not mean that you do have cancer, many other things can cause these too. In addition to these general symptoms, there are other symptoms that go along with certain types of cancer. It is important to check out any unusual or ongoing symptoms, just in case. Treatment works best when cancer is found early.
Diagnosis: Cancer can be found in different ways. It may be while a doctor is running tests for another issue, through regular cancer screenings (i.e. colonoscopy, mammogram, etc.), or radiological exams. A biopsy is done to make a definite diagnosis of cancer in most cases. A biopsy is the removal of a small amount of tissue for further study.
Some of the categories of cancers that begin in specific types of cells are:
- Carcinoma (the most common type of cancer) – is formed by epithelial cells that cover the inside and outside surfaces of the body
- Sarcoma – form in bone and soft tissues, including muscle, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, tendons and ligaments
- Leukemia – begins in the blood-forming tissue of the bone marrow. These do not form solid tumors.
- Lymphoma – begins in the lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that are part of the immune system
- Multiple Myeloma – begins in plasma cells, another type of immune cell
- Melanoma – most form on the skin, but can also form in other pigmented tissues, such as the eye
- Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors – There are different types of these tumors. They are named based on the type of cell in which they formed and where the tumor first formed in the central nervous system
There are many different types of cancer treatments. The type of treatment each person receives depends on which type of cancer they have and how advanced it is. The most common types of treatments include:
- Radiation Therapy
- Stem Cell Transplant
- Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy is a newer type of cancer treatment. It is different from traditional chemotherapy. The drugs known as targeted therapy help stop cancer from growing and spreading in certain types of cancer. They work by targeting specific genes or proteins found in the cancer cells
Targeted drugs can work to:
- Block or turn off chemical signalsthat tell the cancer cell to grow and divide
- Change proteinswithin the cancer cells so the cells die
- Stop making new blood vesselsto feed the cancer cells
- Trigger your immune systemto kill the cancer cells
- Carry toxins to the cancer cellsto kill them, but not normal cells
Sometimes this is used alone, but most often this is used with other types of cancer treatment. Most, but not all, targeted therapy drugs are pills or capsules you can swallow. Targeted therapy can still have side effects. They depend on what type of therapy you are taking, and how your body reacts to the drug.
HPC offers the following Oncology medications:
Visit the following sites for additional information on cancer: