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Updated: July 18, 2007


Our bodies are made up of billions of cells that grow, divide, and then die in a predictable manner. Cancer occurs when something goes wrong with this system, causing uncontrolled cell division and growth.

Cancer cells lump together and form a mass of extra tissue, also known as a tumor, which continues to grow. As it grows, it may damage and invade nearby tissue. If a cancerous tumor outgrows its birthplace (called the primary cancer site) and moves on to another place (called the secondary cancer site), it's referred to as metastasizing.

Though your body has trouble detecting and destroying cancer cells on its own, there's an array of cancer treatment options to help. Sometimes it's as simple as physically removing the cancer (surgery). Other times, you need to poison it.

When cancer cells are present in the colon or rectum, it's referred to as colorectal cancer. To learn more, please read What is Colorectal Cancer? The article provides additional information about cancer causes, symptoms, staging, and survival.

  1. Cancer. Merriam-Webster Online. 31 Aug. 2006 [http://m-w.com/dictionary/cancer].
  2. Definition of Cancer. MedicineNet. 31 Aug. 2006 [http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2580].
  3. Detailed Guide: What is Cancer? American Cancer Society. 6 Feb 2006. Accessed 18 Jul 2007. [http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1x_What_Is_Cancer.asp?sitearea=].
  4. General Definition of Cancer. SEER. 31 Aug. 2006 [http://training.seer.cancer.gov/module_cancer_disease/unit2_whatscancer1_definition.html].
Common Misspellings: canser

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