Cancer, also called malignancy, is characterized by an abnormal growth of cells. There are more than 100 types of cancer, including breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma.
Cancers are classified by the type of cell that resembles the tumor and, therefore, the tissue presumed to be the origin of the tumor. These are the histology and the location, respectively.
Examples of general categories include:
Carcinoma: Malignant tumors derived from epithelial cells. This group represents the most common cancers, including the common forms of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer.
Sarcoma: Malignant tumors derived from connective tissue, or mesenchymal cells.
Lymphoma and leukemia: Malignancies derived from hematopoietic (blood-forming) cells
Germ cell tumor: Tumors derived from totipotent cells. In adults most often found in the testicle and ovary; in fetuses, babies, and young children most often found on the body midline, particularly at the tip of the tailbone; in horses most often found at the poll (base of the skull).
Blastic tumor or blastoma: A tumor (usually malignant) which resembles an immature or embryonic tissue. Many of these tumors are most common in children.
Research for a Cure
Cancer research ranges from epidemiology, molecular bioscience (bench research) to the performance of clinical trials to evaluate and compare applications of the various cancer treatment.
These applications include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy, and combined treatment modalities such as chemo-radiotherapy. Starting in the mid-1990s, the emphasis in clinical cancer research shifted towards therapies derived from biotechnology research, such as immunotherapy and gene therapy.
Current topics of cancer treatment research include:
Boosting the immune system
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Complementary and alternative medicine is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.
You may have heard the terms "alternative" or "complementary" used to refer to methods that are supposed to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer and wondered exactly what they meant. Someone may tell you about herbs, vitamins, energy work, special exercises, or meditation programs.
You might hear about methods that are done by someone else, like traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, hypnosis, or machines that are supposed to find or eliminate cancer. Sometimes people will speak of "body cleansing" with enemas, botanicals, or detoxification diets. There are many others.