Middle English, from Latin (genitive Cancri), literally, crab; akin to Greek karkinos crab, cancer
- 1a : a northern zodiacal constellation between Gemini and Leo
- b (1) : the fourth sign of the zodiac in astrology (2) : one born under the sign of Cancer
- 2a : a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis
- b : an abnormal bodily state marked by such tumors
- 3: something evil or malignant that spreads destructively <the cancer of hidden resentment — Irish Digest>
- 4a : an enlarged tumorlike plant growth (as that of crown gall)
- b : a plant disease marked by such growths
Cancer, also known as a malignant tumor or malignant neoplasm is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Not all tumors are cancerous; benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. Possible signs and symptoms include: a new lump, abnormal bleeding, a prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss, and a change in bowel movements among others. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they may also occur due to other issues. There are over 100 different known cancers that affect humans.
Tobacco use is the cause of about 22% of cancer deaths. Another 10% is due to obesity, a poor diet, lack of physical activity, and consumption of alcohol. Other factors include certain infections, exposure to ionizing radiation, and environmental pollutants. In the developing world nearly 20% of cancers are due to infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human papillomavirus (HPV). These factors act, at least partly, by changing the genes of a cell. Typically many such genetic changes are required before cancer develops. Approximately 5–10% of cancers are due to genetic defects inherited from a person's parents. Cancer can be detected by certain signs and symptoms or screening tests. It is then typically further investigated by medical imaging and confirmed by biopsy.
Many cancers can be prevented by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking too much alcohol, eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, being vaccinated against certain infectious diseases, not eating too much processed and red meat, and avoiding too much exposure to sunlight. Early detection through screening is useful for cervical and colorectal cancer. The benefits of screening in breast cancer are controversial. Cancer is often treated with some combination of radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Pain and symptom management are an important part of care. Palliative care is particularly important in those with advanced disease. The chance of survival depends on the type of cancer and extent of disease at the start of treatment. In children under 15 at diagnosis the five-year survival rate in the developed world is on average 80%. For cancer in the United States the average five-year survival rate is 66%.
In 2012 about 14.1 million new cases of cancer occurred globally (not including skin cancer other than melanoma). It caused about 8.2 million deaths or 14.6% of all human deaths. The most common types of cancer in males are lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and stomach cancer, and in females, the most common types are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and cervical cancer. If skin cancer other than melanoma were included in total new cancers each year it would account for around 40% of cases. In children, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and brain tumors are most common except in Africa where non-Hodgkin lymphoma occurs more often. In 2012, about 165,000 children under 15 years of age were diagnosed with cancer. The risk of cancer increases significantly with age and many cancers occur more commonly in developed countries. Rates are increasing as more people live to an old age and as lifestyle changes occur in the developing world. The financial costs of cancer have been estimated at $1.16 trillion US dollars per year as of 2010.