The American Cancer Society offers programs and services to help you during and after cancer treatment. Below are some of the resources we provide. We can also help you find other free or low-cost resources available.
At the American Cancer Society, we have a vision to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. We're improving the lives of cancer patients and their families through advocacy, research, and patient support to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer.
When cancer treatment is far from home, our Hope Lodge facilities offer a free place to stay and a supportive space to rest. We also provide lodging grants to local healthcare systems partners so they can provide lodging assistance to their patients.
Road to Recovery connects cancer patients in need of transportation to treatment with volunteers to get them there. We also provide transportation grants to local healthcare systems partners to provide transportation assistance to their patients.
Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss, and a change in bowel movements. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they can also have other causes. Over 100 types of cancers affect humans.
The risk of developing certain cancers can be reduced by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, eating resistant starch, vaccination against certain infectious diseases, limiting consumption of processed meat and red meat, and limiting exposure to direct sunlight. Early detection through screening is useful for cervical and colorectal cancer. The benefits of screening for 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 people 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% for all ages.
In 2015, about 90.5 million people worldwide had cancer. In 2019, annual cancer cases grew by 23.6 million people and there were 10 million deaths worldwide, representing over the previous decade increases of 26% and 21%, respectively.
The most common types of cancer in males are lung cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and stomach cancer. 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 cancer cases each year, it would account for around 40% of cases. In children, acute lymphoblastic leukemia 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 global total economic costs of cancer were estimated at US$1.16 trillion per year as of 2010[update].
When cancer begins, it produces no symptoms. Signs and symptoms appear as the mass grows or ulcerates. The findings that result depend on cancer's type and location. Few symptoms are specific. Many frequently occur in individuals who have other conditions. Cancer can be difficult to diagnose and can be considered a \"great imitator.\"
Local symptoms may occur due to the mass of the tumor or its ulceration. For example, mass effects from lung cancer can block the bronchus resulting in cough or pneumonia; esophageal cancer can cause narrowing of the esophagus, making it difficult or painful to swallow; and colorectal cancer may lead to narrowing or blockages in the bowel, affecting bowel habits. Masses in breasts or testicles may produce observable lumps. Ulceration can cause bleeding that can lead to symptoms such as coughing up blood (lung cancer), anemia or rectal bleeding (colon cancer), blood in the urine (bladder cancer), or abnormal vaginal bleeding (endometrial or cervical cancer). Although localized pain may occur in advanced cancer, the initial tumor is usually painless. Some cancers can cause a buildup of fluid within the chest or abdomen.
Systemic symptoms may occur due to the body's response to the cancer. This may include fatigue, unintentional weight loss, or skin changes. Some cancers can cause a systemic inflammatory state that leads to ongoing muscle loss and weakness, known as cachexia.
Some systemic symptoms of cancer are caused by hormones or other molecules produced by the tumor, known as paraneoplastic syndromes. Common paraneoplastic syndromes include hypercalcemia, which can cause altered mental state, constipation and dehydration, or hyponatremia, which can also cause altered mental status, vomiting, headaches, or seizures.
Metastasis is the spread of cancer to other locations in the body. The dispersed tumors are called metastatic tumors, while the original is called the primary tumor. Almost all cancers can metastasize. Most cancer deaths are due to cancer that has metastasized.
Metastasis is common in the late stages of cancer and it can occur via the blood or the lymphatic system or both. The typical steps in metastasis are local invasion, intravasation into the blood or lymph, circulation through the body, extravasation into the new tissue, proliferation and angiogenesis. Different types of cancers tend to metastasize to particular organs, but overall the most common places for metastases to occur are the lungs, liver, brain, and the bones.
It is not generally possible to prove what caused a particular cancer because the various causes do not have specific fingerprints. For example, if a person who uses tobacco heavily develops lung cancer, then it was probably caused by the tobacco use, but since everyone has a small chance of developing lung cancer as a result of air pollution or radiation, the cancer may have developed for one of those reasons. Excepting the rare transmissions that occur with pregnancies and occasional organ donors, cancer is generally not a transmissible disease, however factors that may have contributed to the development of cancer can be transmissible; such as oncoviruses like hepatitis B, Epstein-Barr virus and HIV.
Tobacco smoke, for example, causes 90% of lung cancer. It also causes cancer in the larynx, head, neck, stomach, bladder, kidney, esophagus and pancreas. Tobacco smoke contains over fifty known carcinogens, including nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Tobacco is responsible for about one in five cancer deaths worldwide and about one in three in the developed world. Lung cancer death rates in the United States have mirrored smoking patterns, with increases in smoking followed by dramatic increases in lung cancer death rates and, more recently, decreases in smoking rates since the 1950s followed by decreases in lung cancer death rates in men since 1990.
In Western Europe, 10% of cancers in males and 3% of cancers in females are attributed to alcohol exposure, especially liver and digestive tract cancers. Cancer from work-related substance exposures may cause between 2 and 20% of cases, causing at least 200,000 deaths. Cancers such as lung cancer and mesothelioma can come from inhaling tobacco smoke or asbestos fibers, or leukemia from exposure to benzene.
Some specific foods are linked to specific cancers. A high-salt diet is linked to gastric cancer. Aflatoxin B1, a frequent food contaminant, causes liver cancer. Betel nut chewing can cause oral cancer. National differences in dietary practices may partly explain differences in cancer incidence. For example, gastric cancer is more common in Japan due to its high-salt diet while colon cancer is more common in the United States. Immigrant cancer profiles mirror those of their new country, often within one generation.
Worldwide approximately 18% of cancer deaths are related to infectious diseases. This proportion ranges from a high of 25% in Africa to less than 10% in the developed world. Viruses are the usual infectious agents that cause cancer but cancer bacteria and parasites may also play a role.
Radiation exposure such as ultraviolet radiation and radioactive material is a risk factor for cancer. Many non-melanoma skin cancers are due to ultraviolet radiation, mostly from sunlight. Sources of ionizing radiation include medical imaging and radon gas.
Ionizing radiation is not a particularly strong mutagen. Residential exposure to radon gas, for example, has similar cancer risks as passive smoking. Radiation is a more potent source of cancer when combined with other cancer-causing agents, such as radon plus tobacco smoke. Radiation can cause cancer in most parts of the body, in all animals and at any age. Children are twice as likely to develop radiation-induced leukemia as adults; radiation exposure before birth has ten times the effect.
Medical use of ionizing radiation is a small but growing source of radiation-induced cancers. Ionizing radiation may be used to treat other cancers, but this may, in some cases, induce a second form of cancer. It is also used in some kinds of medical imaging. 59ce067264