In recent years, improved techniques in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer have led to more cures than ever before. However, cancer is primarily a disease of old age, and, as life expectancy increases, so does the proportion of people who will eventually develop some form of cancer in later life.
Cancer is not a single disease. Tumours arising in different tissues behave in different ways and respond differently to treatment. However, all cancers have some elements in common, such as their invasive growth.
The aim of this section is to look at the general principles applied to the diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare of all cancers. Research is being carried out to produce new treatments and cures. Some modern cancer treatments are still experimental but will probably eventually increase the proportion of people who survive. Even if a cancer cannot be cured, many treatments are available to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Cancers that arise in a specific part of the body are covered in the relevant body system section. For example, lung cancer is covered in the section on lung disorders, and breast cancer in the breast disorders section.
For further information about cancer.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.