Definition

Cancer can develop almost anywhere in the body.

Cancer begins when genetic changes interfere with a cell’s cycle of birth – use – death. When cells do not die when they are supposed to (apoptosis), the undying cells can form a mass called a tumor.

Types

There are two types of tumor, malignant and benign.

A malignant (cancerous) tumor can invade nearby organs, lymph systems, and spread to other parts of the body (also know as “metastasize”). There are various types of malignancy, depending on the origin of the initial malignant cells:

  • Carcinoma – skin, tissues that line or cover internal organs
  • Central Nervous System Malignancies – brain, spinal cord
  • Leukemia – blood, blood-forming tissues (e.g. bone marrow)
  • Lymphoma & multiple myeloma – immune system
  • Sarcoma – bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue

Benign (non-cancerous) tumors will not invade or spread to different organs, lymph systems, or the body. They are generally less concerning, unless their growth causes them to press on or crowd other structures like nerves, blood vessels, or the brain within the skull. They can grow very large, but are often removed surgically.

10 Most Common Cancers (2018)

  • Breast Cancer
  • Lung/Bronchus Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Bladder
  • non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Kidney/Renal
  • Endometrial
  • Leukemia

Risk Factors

Some cancers are genetic. Some can be prevented by decreasing your exposure to the following risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Lack of physical activity

Prevention

Cancer prevention is evolving, but lifestyle changes are likely to have an impact.

  1. Don’t use tobacco – don’t start, or quit as soon as you can
  2. Eat a healthy diet, containing many fruits and vegetables
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
  4. Be physically active
  5. Protect yourself from the sun – use sunscreen!
  6. Avoid risky behaviors (practice safe sex, do not share needles)
  7. Get regular medical care
  8. Get vaccinated (see below)

Vaccinations

The CDC recommends that all adults keep their vaccinations up to date. Childhood immunizations may wear off after time and need a “booster shot,” and you are at risk for other diseases as an adult.

All adults need:

  • Influenza vaccine (every year)
  • Tdap vaccine (if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

If you have a weakened immune system due to cancer or cancer treatments, you may need the following vaccines (talk to your doctor):

Cancer & COVID-19 (NACDD)

Weak immune systems (like those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation) can make it more likely to contract COVID-19.
What you can do:

  • Get any medications sent directly to you if possible.
  • Check with your doctor about self-isolating, or protecting yourself at home or at the clinic.

Resources

Support Groups

  • Breast Cancer Survivor Groups
  • Breast Cancer Support Group meets the third Thursday of each month, 10 a.m., at Union Hospital Cancer Center, 111 W. High St., Suite 104, Elkton, MD. Call 410-398-4000 ext. 1729.
  • Mid-Shore Breast Cancer Forum meets the 4th Wednesday each month except November and December, 7 p.m., at Regional Cancer Center, 509 Idlewild Ave., Easton, MD. Call 410-822-4242.
  • Sisters On a Mission offers support for African American women with breast cancer. Meetings are every fourth Monday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington. Call Cynthia Church at 302-475-0687.
  • Young Survivors in Action provides support for women under 40 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Call 302-672-6435, ext. 1005.
  • Cancer Education Support Group meets every fourth Monday, 7 p.m., at Kent and Queen Anne’s Hospital, 1st floor classroom, Chestertown, MD. Call 410-778-3300 ext. 2381.
  • Coping With Cancer support group meets the last Tuesday of each month except November and Decemberm 7 to 8 p.m., at Regional Cancer Center, 509 Idlewild Ave., Easton, MD. Call 410-822-1000 ext. 5738.
  • Kent & Queen Anne’s Hospital Cancer Counseling Program, Chestertown, MD: Call 410-778-3300 ext. 2381.
  • First State Prostate Support Group is for patients and family members of current or post-treatment prostate-cancer patients. Meetings are the first Wednesday of each month, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., at 92 Reads Way, Suite 205, New Castle, DE, 19720. Call 302-324-4227 or 800-304-0779.
  • Support Group for Women With Cancer meets every third Tuesday, 7 to 7 p.m., at Union Cancer Center, 111 W. High Street, Suite 104, Elkton, MD. Call 410-398-4000 ext. 1729.
  • Us Too support group for cancer survivors and families meets at the Health Education Center Board Room, Memorial Hospital, Easton, MD. Call Urology Associates, 410-822-5552.