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Cancer is a disease when the body is damaged by out-of-control cell growth. Normal cells grow and multiply when the body need them, and die when the body doesn’t need them. In cancer, the cells appear to “forget how to die” and grow out of control and divide too quickly. These uncontrolled cells form lumps or masses called tumors, except in leukemia, in which cancer prohibits normal blood functioning due to abnormal cell growth in the blood system. Tumors grow and interfere with the digestive, nervous, and circulatory systems, and they can release hormones that alter body function. Tumors that stay in one spot and demonstrate limited growth are generally considered to be benign. When cancer spreads to other parts of the body and grows, invading and destroying other tissues, it is said to have metastasized. The cancer is then very difficult to treat. In 2007, cancer claimed the lives of about 7.6 million people around the world. Cancers are primarily an environmental disease with 90-95% of cases due to lifestyle and environmental factors and 5-10% due to genetics.

The most common type of cancer in both men and women is basal or squamous cell skin cancer. This common type of cancer tends not to be fatal, although some people with basal or squamous skin cell can later develop melanomas, a more serious type of skin cancer. After skin cancer, the most common cancers ( in order of incidence) in men are prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, bladder cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and melanoma. In women, the most common cancer is breast cancer, followed by lung cancer, colon and rectal cancer, uterine cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, ovarian and melanoma.

There are now two cancer prevention vaccines, HPV and HVB. A preventive human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) targets certain sexually transmitted strains of human papillomavirus that are associated with the development of cervical cancer and genital warts. The hepatitis B vaccine (HVB), prevents infection with the hepatitis B virus, an infectious agent that can cause liver cancer. More than 30% of cancers are believed to be preventable by avoiding certain risk factors. These include use of tobacco, being overweight or obese, having a diet low in fruits and vegetables, overuse of alcohol, physical inactivity, sexually transmitted diseases, exposure to radon and air pollution.


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