Cancer is a disease that happens when cells in your body start to grow out of control and crowd out normal cells. They also ignore signals that tell cells to stop growing or to die, and they can spread into other parts of the body. Cancer cells can also hide from your immune system and trick it into protecting tumors instead of attacking them.
There are many different kinds of cancer and each kind needs its own treatment. The goal of treatment is to cure cancer so that it never comes back or spreads. Doctors treat blood cancers with chemotherapy and they treat solid tumors with surgery, radiation, or other treatments. New ways to treat cancer are always being developed and tested.
You can help prevent cancer by keeping healthy and getting regular checkups. You should also avoid things that can cause cancer, such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol. If you have a family history of cancer, you may be at higher risk for it.
When you get cancer, doctors use tests to find out if you have it and what kind you have. These include physical examinations, blood tests, imaging tests, and lab tests. Doctors also look at your medical and health history to see if you have any other conditions that can lead to cancer.
If you have cancer, your doctor will talk with you about the best treatment plan. Treatment options depend on the type of cancer and where it is located in your body.
For example, surgery is a common treatment for many types of cancer. During surgery, your doctor can remove the mass (tumor) and part of the surrounding tissue. They can also remove lymph nodes near the tumor if they have cancer cells in them.
Other types of cancer treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, and stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant). Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. Chemotherapy uses special medicines to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading. Targeted therapy zeroes in on specific genes or proteins that cancer cells use to grow and survive. It can be given as a pill or liquid medicine that you drink, or as an IV (intravenous).
Hormone therapy targets the hormones that fuel some cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer. Stem cell transplant replaces your own cancerous stem cells to help your immune system fight the cancer and control side effects of other treatments.
Even though you’re diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and active life. You might need to change your routines a bit, but there are ways to keep doing the things you enjoy. It’s also important to remember that you can still go to school, play with friends, and work, if your doctor allows it. And, most importantly, you can still be a kid.