Cancer basics: What is cancer and what causes cancer?

News — By on November 9, 2009 at 7:28 am

What increases your risk of cancer?
While doctors have an idea of what can put you at risk of cancer, the majority of cancers occur in people who don’t have any known risk factors. Factors known to increase your risk of cancer include:
Your habits

Certain lifestyle choices are known to increase your risk of cancer. Smoking, drinking more than one drink a day (for women) or two drinks a day (for men), excessive exposure to the sun or frequent blistering sunburns, and having unsafe sex can contribute to cancer. You can break these habits to lower your risk of cancer — though some habits are easier to break than others.
What is cancer?
Cancer refers to any one of a large number of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. Cancer can spread throughout your body.
Being diagnosed with cancer can be frightening. But understanding what’s going on inside your body can help you feel more in control of your disease.
What causes cancer?
Cancer begins with damage (mutations) in your DNA. Your DNA is like a set of instructions for your cells, telling them how to grow and divide. Normal cells often develop mutations in their DNA, but they have the ability to repair most of these mutations. Or, if they can’t make the repairs, the cells often die. However, certain mutations aren’t repaired, causing the cells to grow and become cancerous. Mutations also cause cancer cells to live beyond a normal cell life span. This causes the cancerous cells to accumulate.
The initial genetic mutation is just the beginning of the process by which cancer develops. Scientists believe you need a number of changes within your cells in order to develop cancer.
Please read the complete Mayo Clinic article and let Cancer Directory know what you think below.

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