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Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells grow, divide, and spread. In most cancers, these abnormal cells form a mass called a tumor. (Not all tumors are cancer.) Cancers found in the blood or immune system do not form tumors. Most cancers are named for where they start. For example, lung cancer starts in the lung, and breast cancer starts in the breast. But cancers can spread. They can invade nearby tissues and organs. Or, they can break away and spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms and treatment depend on the cancer type and how advanced it is.
Millions of Americans are living with a diagnosis of cancer. But thanks to improved cancer screening and treatment, many people with cancer are able to beat the disease. Still, cancer and cancer treatment can have a big effect on your quality of life, day-to-day activities, work life, and relationships. Pain and fatigue are among the most disabling symptoms. Changes in appearance and abilities both from the cancer and its treatment, as well as feelings such as anger and fear, can affect emotional health. In fact depression affects one-third to one-half of all women diagnosed with cancer.
If you are going through cancer treatment or are a cancer survivor, get the support and medical care you need to take care of your physical and emotional health.
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More information on Cancer
Read more from womenshealth.gov
- Breast Cancer Fact Sheet - This fact sheet provides information on why women should be concerned about breast cancer and gives resources for more information.
- Cervical Cancer Fact Sheet - This fact sheet answers the common questions patients have regarding cervical cancer.
- Early-stage Breast Cancer Treatment Fact Sheet - This fact sheet addresses questions that women commonly have about breast cancer and its treatment. It explains the two surgical options used to treat early-stage breast cancer and lists resources for patients seeking more information.
- Lung Cancer Fact Sheet - This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about lung cancer in women, including how common it is, whether nonsmokers can develop it, and a smoker's risk of developing it.
- Ovarian Cancer Fact Sheet - This fact sheet explains what ovarian cancer is, why you should be concerned about it, and where you can get more information.
- Skin Cancer Fact Sheet - This fact sheet provides basic information on skin cancer, why you should be concerned about it, and where you can get more information.
- Uterine Cancer: Cancer of the Uterus Fact Sheet - This fact sheet explains what uterine cancer is, why you should be concerned about it, and where you can get more information.
Explore other publications and websites
- Breast Cancer (PDQ®) Treatment — Patients - This online publication provides a description of breast cancer, as well as the risk factors of breast cancer. It also describes tests and treatment options. Other sections include inflammatory breast cancer and recurrent breast cancer.
- Breast Cancer Prostheses and Hair Loss Accessories List (Copyright © American Cancer Society) - This site lists producers of breast prostheses and accessory items.
- Breast Reconstruction and Prosthesis (Copyright © Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation) - This fact sheet provides information about choosing reconstructive surgery or a prosthesis following a mastectomy. It also explains the types of reconstructive surgery and the steps to take before the surgery.
- Chemotherapy and You: Support for People With Cancer - This question-and-answer booklet addresses problems and concerns of patients receiving chemotherapy. The emphasis is on explanation and self-help.
- Coping With Advanced Cancer - This booklet addresses living with a terminal illness, how to cope, and practical considerations for the patient and his or her family and friends.
- Depression (PDQ®) — Patients - This brief summary describes the causes and treatments of depression in patients with cancer. Also included are possible risk factors and how to prevent suicide in adults and children who have cancer.
- Eating Hints for Cancer Patients: Before, During, and After Treatment - This booklet discusses dietary needs during cancer treatment to help cope with side effects related to eating. It is designed for cancer patients, their families, and other caregivers.
- Financial Assistance and Other Resources for People With Cancer - This Internet site provides links to financial information, legal information, and insurance information for people who have cancer.
- A Helping Hand: The Resource Guide for People With Cancer (Copyright © Cancer Care, Inc.) - The Helping Hand Resource Guide discusses the types of help that are available to people with cancer and where you can find them. Whether you want general information on cancer, or specific services, this resource guide answers your questions — or directs you to someone who can.
- Nausea and Vomiting (PDQ®) — Patients - This publication provides information on how to control nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer.
- Road to Recovery (Copyright © American Cancer Society) - Every day thousands of cancer patients need a ride to treatment, but some may not have a way to get there. The American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program provides transportation to and from treatment for people who have cancer and do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.
- Taking Time: Support for People With Cancer and the People Who Care About Them - This booklet provides guidance and advice for cancer patients and their families regarding coping with cancer, dealing with a new self-image, and living each day.
- Thinking About Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Guide for People With Cancer - This fact sheet introduces complementary and alternative therapies, explaining what they are and how they are used today. It explains how the National Institutes of Health evaluates alternative therapies and lists clinical trials for the study of alternative therapies. It also provides advice for patients on what to do when considering complementary and alternative therapies.
Connect with other organizations
Content last updated September 22, 2009.
Resources last updated September 22, 2009.
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