Cornerstone Health Solutions is dedicated to supporting you through your cancer treatment. We are committed to helping you with financial assistance, providing you with thorough medication education, helping keep you on track, and being fully available to you to answer questions.
What is cancer?
Normally our cells grow old or get damaged and die after a certain amount of time. This triggers healthy cells to divide to replace them. Cancer is a disease caused by cells dividing inappropriately at a very fast rate and spreading into other tissues. This arises when changes are made to a cell’s DNA. These changes can be passed down to us from our parents or they can be a result of an environmental exposure like smoking or UV rays from the sun.
Changes in the cell’s DNA can cause the cell to behave abnormally:
- Inappropriately grow and divide
- Stop old/damaged cells from dying
- Ignore signals that tell cells to stop dividing
- Hide from immune cells
- Influence other cells to help growth
All of these abnormal behaviors lead to an overabundance of cells that can combine and form a tumor.
What is the difference between malignant and benign tumors?
Malignant tumors are cancerous. This means that they can spread to other tissues in your body and create new tumors. They can spread to nearby tissues by migrating to that area or they can spread to tissues farther away by traveling through blood and lymph. The process of cancer spreading to another part of the body is called metastasis. So we call cancer that has spread from the original tissue to a new tissue metastatic cancer.
Benign tumors are not cancerous because they do not spread to other tissues. The cells still divide and grow tumors but they stay in their original location. You can remove these tumors and they most likely will not grow back, unlike malignant tumors. Just because benign tumors aren’t cancerous does not mean that they can’t be dangerous. Having benign tumors in certain parts of your body, like your brain, can be life threatening.
What are the different types of cancer?
- Carcinoma – cancer formed by cells that cover the inside and outside surfaces of our body
- Sarcoma – cancer formed by cells from our bones, muscle, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, and tendons/ligaments
- Leukemia – cancer formed by cells from bone marrow
- Lymphoma – cancer formed by lymphocytes (immune cells)
- Multiple Myeloma – cancer formed by plasma cells (an immune cell)
- Melanoma – cancer formed by melanocytes (cells that make the color of our skin)
- Brain and Spinal Cord – cancer formed by different cells in the brain and spinal cord