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Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth, with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body.[1][2] It differs from benign tumors, which do not spread.[2]

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Symptoms 1

Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss, and a change in bowel movements.[3]

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Symptoms 2

While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they can also have other causes.[3] More than 100 types of cancers affect humans.[2]

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Causes 1

Tobacco use is the cause of about 22% of all cancer deaths.[1]

Lit cigarette.jpg

Causes 2

Another 10% are due to obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, or excessive drinking of alcohol.[1][4][5]


Causes 3

Other factors include certain infections, and exposure to ionizing radiation, and environmental pollutants.[6]


Causes 4

Another cause includes spanking. If a child is spanked, he'll misbehave even MORE. According to The Alantic, "Adults who were spanked as children regularly die at a younger age of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses."

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Infectious causes

In the developing world, 15% of cancers are due to infections such as Helicobacter pylori, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, human papillomavirus infection, Epstein–Barr virus, and HIV.[1]

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These factors act, at least partly, by mutation of the genes of a cell.[7] Typically, many genetic changes are required before cancer develops.[7] Approximately 5–10% of cancers are due to inherited genetic defects from a person's parents.[8]

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When cancer is suspected because of signs and symptoms, or screening tests, [1] it will be further investigated by medical imaging, and confirmed by biopsy.[9]

Prevention 1

Many cancers can be prevented by not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight.[10]

Obesity-waist circumference.svg

Preventative 2

Limiting alcohol use, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as avoiding red meat and excessive sunlight, all lower the risk of cancer.[10][11]

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Vaccination against certain infectious diseases such as the human papilloma virus, decreases the risk of cancer.[12]

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Screening 1

Early detection through screening is useful for cervical and colorectal cancer.[13]

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Screening 2

The benefits of screening in breast cancer are controversial.[13][14]

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Cancer is usually treated with some combination of radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy.[1][15]

IMRT Oropharyngeal cancer.jpg

Pain management

Pain, and symptom management are an important part of care.[1] Palliative care is particularly important in people with advanced disease.[1]



The chance of survival depends on the type of cancer, and extent of disease at the start of treatment.[7] In children under 15 at diagnosis, the five-year survival rate in the developed world is on average 80%.[16] For all cancers in the United States, the average five-year survival rate is 66%.[17]

Survival curve by age at diagnosis - cancer seer gov - faststats.jpg


In females, the most common types are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and cervical cancer.[7] If skin cancer, other than melanoma, were included in total new cancer cases each year, it would account for around 40% of cases.[18][19]

Most common cancers - female, by occurrence.png


The most common types of cancer in males are lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and stomach cancer.[20]

Most common cancers - male, by occurrence.png


In children, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and brain tumors are most common, except in Africa where non-Hodgkin lymphoma occurs more often.[16] In 2012, about 165,000 children under 15 years of age were diagnosed with cancer.[20]

US Navy 100507-N-9094S-375 Logistics Specialist Seaman Sergio Torres draws pictures with a child at the Vladivostok children's cancer ward.jpg

Global risk

The risk of cancer increases significantly with age, and many cancers occur more commonly in developed countries.[7] Rates of cancer are increasing, as more people live to an old age, and as lifestyle changes occur in the developing world. These changes will challenge health care in the decades to come.[21]

Age Specific SEER Incidence Rates 2003-2007.svg


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Cancer". World Health Organization. 12 September 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Defining Cancers". National Cancer Institute. 17 September 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Cancer – Signs and symptoms". NHS Choices. Archived from the original on 8 June 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  4. "Obesity and Cancer Risk". National Cancer Institute. 3 January 2012. Archived from the original on 4 July 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  5. Jayasekara H, MacInnis RJ, Room R, English DR (May 2016). "Long-Term Alcohol Consumption and Breast, Upper Aero-Digestive Tract and Colorectal Cancer Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis". Alcohol and Alcoholism. 51 (3): 315–30. doi:10.1093/alcalc/agv110. PMID 26400678.
  6. Anand P, Kunnumakkara AB, Sundaram C, Harikumar KB, Tharakan ST, Lai OS, Sung B, Aggarwal BB (September 2008). "Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes". Pharmaceutical Research. 25 (9): 2097–116. doi:10.1007/s11095-008-9661-9. PMC 2515569. PMID 18626751.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 World Cancer Report 2014. World Health Organization. 2014. pp. Chapter 1.1. ISBN 978-92-832-0429-9. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017.
  8. "Heredity and Cancer". American Cancer Society. Archived from the original on 2 August 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  9. "How is cancer diagnosed?". American Cancer Society. 29 January 2013. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kushi LH, Doyle C, McCullough M, Rock CL, Demark-Wahnefried W, Bandera EV, Gapstur S, Patel AV, Andrews K, Gansler T (2012). "American Cancer Society Guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity". CA Cancer J Clin. 62 (1): 30–67. doi:10.3322/caac.20140. PMID 22237782.
  11. Parkin DM, Boyd L, Walker LC (December 2011). "16. The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010". British Journal of Cancer. 105 Suppl 2: S77–81. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.489. PMC 3252065. PMID 22158327.
  12. Ljubojevic S, Skerlev M (2014). "HPV-associated diseases". Clinics in Dermatology. 32 (2): 227–34. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2013.08.007. PMID 24559558.
  13. 13.0 13.1 World Cancer Report 2014. World Health Organization. 2014. pp. Chapter 4.7. ISBN 978-92-832-0429-9. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017.
  14. Gøtzsche PC, Jørgensen KJ (June 2013). "Screening for breast cancer with mammography". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 6 (6): CD001877. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001877.pub5. PMID 23737396.
  15. National Cancer Institute (26 February 2018). "Targeted Cancer Therapies". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  16. 16.0 16.1 World Cancer Report 2014. World Health Organization. 2014. pp. Chapter 1.3. ISBN 978-92-832-0429-9. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017.
  17. "SEER Stat Fact Sheets: All Cancer Sites". National Cancer Institute. Archived from the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  18. Dubas LE, Ingraffea A (February 2013). "Nonmelanoma skin cancer". Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America. 21 (1): 43–53. doi:10.1016/j.fsc.2012.10.003. PMID 23369588.
  19. Cakir BÖ, Adamson P, Cingi C (November 2012). "Epidemiology and economic burden of nonmelanoma skin cancer". Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America. 20 (4): 419–22. doi:10.1016/j.fsc.2012.07.004. PMID 23084294.
  20. 20.0 20.1 World Cancer Report 2014. World Health Organization. 2014. pp. Chapter 1.1. ISBN 978-92-832-0429-9.
  21. Jemal A, Bray F, Center MM, Ferlay J, Ward E, Forman D (February 2011). "Global cancer statistics". Ca. 61 (2): 69–90. doi:10.3322/caac.20107. PMID 21296855.