Cancer: Learning Health Online

Cancer has affected millions of lives. Almost everyone has a close friend or family member that has had a battle with cancer. Since cancer is so prominent, it is important that a person be able to understand exactly what cancer is, how it comes about, ways to prevent it and what the treatment options are for those that are doing battle with it. Patients, family members, caregivers and support persons are all in need of accurate and beneficial information that can help them navigate the confusing maze of medical terminology and treatment options. 

What is Cancer?

Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. The growth is abnormal because the cells develop at a much faster rate and in a different pattern than normal, non-cancerous cells. Because of the rapid growth rate, untreated cancer cells can divide from the main growth site and spread, or metastasize, to other areas of the body. The immune system’s reaction to these cells determines the level of progression of the cancer.

  • Basic Cancer Terminology Medical terms are often thrown around quickly, leaving a person confused as to what each term means. This page explains what cancer is, why people might get cancer and the terminology used to refer to cancer cell growth.
  • Diagnosing Cancer with Laboratory Testing Lab tests must be run in order to confirm cancer. There are numerous tests that can be performed depending on the area of the body where the cancer is located.
  • Helping Kids Understand Cancer Cancer is not easily understood; helps children to better comprehend what cancer is.
  • Cancer Facts The University of Southern California provides educational information on cancer: what it is, why it occurs and what can be done about it.

Types of Cancer

Cancer can affect any area of the body. The most commonly occurring cancer in the United States is lung cancer. Prostate and breast cancer follow closely behind. Out of the cancers referred to as “common,” leukemia is the least prevalent.

Signs and Symptoms

Some types of cancer have obvious signs and symptoms, while others may not present with any symptoms at all. As cancer progresses, symptoms are more likely to show up. The types of symptoms to watch for will vary depending on the type of cancer. Symptoms can include anything from pain to unexplained weight loss.

  • Brain Cancer Symptoms Signs of brain cancer may include dizziness, difficulty with eyesight, vomiting and even seizures.
  • Colon Cancer Symptoms Pain in the abdomen, unexplained weight loss or tarry bowel movements can all be possible signs of colon cancer.
  • Oral and Lip Cancer Symptoms Symptoms of oral cancer can include a persistent sore that will not heal, a feeling of fullness in the throat and a change in voice.
  • Lung Cancer Symptoms Lung cancer can present in various ways. Shortness of breath, persistent coughing and recurring bronchial infections are some of the symptoms to watch for.
  • Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms Cancer of the pancreas causes an unexplained weight loss and pain in the abdomen.
  • Kidney Cancer Symptoms Kidney cancer often advances through the beginning stage with few signs or symptoms. Possible signs include pain, anemia and fatigue.
  • Ovarian Cancer Backaches that will not go away, a feeling of being bloated and indigestion are some of the common symptoms noticed with ovarian cancer.
  • Prostate Cancer Symptoms Symptoms of prostate cancer include a feeling of burning during urination, trouble fully emptying the bladder and blood in urine.


Various factors can contribute to cancer cell growth. Genetics are sometimes, but certainly not always, involved. Smoking, UV exposure and other carcinogens damage cells and increase the risks of getting cancer. Preventative steps include eating a healthy diet full of antioxidant containing fruits and vegetables. Avoiding carcinogens and toxins is also a good measure to take as it decreases exposure to free radicals.

  • Cancer and its Causes From genetics to UV exposure, this page lists various factors that can increase the abnormal cell growth that occurs in cancer.
  • The Effect of Genetics in Cancer Genetics are responsible for some types of cancer. Hereditary traits are passed through the genes and can have an effect on cell growth.
  • What Causes Cancer? Many things can have an effect on the way that cells grow. This thorough article outlines the causes of cancer as well as misconceptions about the causes.
  • While there is no way to guarantee that you will not get cancer, there are several steps you can take to help avoid it. This guide outlines healthy eating and other proactive approaches to cancer prevention.
  • Cancer Prevention and Control The Cancer Prevention and Control Program is focused on finding a way to prevent cancer.


Treatment for cancer is dependent on not only the type of cancer, but also the progression of it. In most cases, cancer in early stages will be treated differently than that which has advanced and metastasized. Treatments range from chemotherapy to radiation to palliative care. The patient is the key decision maker when it comes to the treatment options.

  • Cancer Treatment Therapies Patients with cancer have more options today than ever before. This page provides a comprehensive list of the various therapies available.
  • Treatment Options for Cancer Some of the oft-chosen cancer treatments include radiation, chemotherapy and even hormone therapy.
  • Treating Cancer Cancer comes with many unknowns. This overview can help decipher which treatments are used and why.
  • Overview of Cancer Treatments From vaccines to biological response modifiers, this page discusses the variety of treatment options now available.
  • Relief for Cancer Symptoms Alternative treatments that may ease the symptoms of cancer.