Cancer Facts and Figures

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What is Cancer? Cancer is not just one disease but a group of diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. All cancers cause cells in the body to change and grow out of control. Most types form a lump or mass called a tumor, which can invade and destroy healthy tissue. Cells from the tumor can break off and move to other parts of the body where they can continue to grow. This spreading process is called metastasis although some cancers, like blood cancers, do not form a tumor. Another word for cancerous is malignant.

What is Chemotherapy? Chemotherapy (also referred to as chemo) is a type of cancer treatment. It is a general term for any medication or combination of medication that kills, damages or prevents the growth of cancer cells. When only one drug is given it is called single-agent chemo, but if several drugs are given, it is called combination chemo.

The drug(s) can be administered in a number of ways. IV, or intravenous chemo, is delivered through a tube into a vein. It can also be given in pill or liquid form or as an injection. Some can even be applied topically as a cream or lotion.

Chemotherapy slows down or stops the growth of cancer cells. It recognizes and attacks cancer cells because those cells reproduce so quickly. Chemo can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting and hair loss. Fortunately, in most cases, the side effects get better or go away when treatment is over.