Cancer is named after its place of origin. For example, a tumor that is found in the brain but composed of breast cancer cells is still classified as breast cancer. Some of the most common types of cancer include malignancies of the lungs, breasts, liver, brain, pancreas, kidneys, stomach, colon, reproductive organs, bone, and blood.
Different cancers each have their own set of specific symptoms, but cancer in general can produce a pattern of nondescript symptoms, that when taken as a whole may indicate illness. Unintentional weight loss is often the first sign of cancer. Anemia and fatigue can signal illness as well. Also, other common signs of cancer are pain, fever, and unexplainable lumps. Changes in bowel movements or persistent coughs may also suggest cancer. It is important to consult with a doctor should any of these symptoms arise. It is important to note that one symptom does not necessarily indicate cancer as these symptoms are common effects of many diseases.
Treatment options for cancer have progressed greatly in recent years. Surgeries to excise malignant tumors are the first line of defense against cancer. Following surgery, treatment may consist of chemotherapy and/or radiation to kill malignant cells. A new field of research into fighting cancer is gene therapy where a person's genetic material is used to help fight cancer cells. Experimental treatments are available in clinical trials.
Being diagnosed with cancer is not the death sentence that it used to be. With new technologies and better medicines, people with cancer are surviving longer than ever.