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Cancer – What is Cancer?

September 9, 2021


The challenging part about using the term "cancer" is that cancer does not apply to everybody equally across the board. Cancers have very different biologies and basically types of what the cancer is as well as what you can expect with the cancer in terms of survival or what the treatments will entail. And so it's very important to recognize that to use the term cancer is too generalized because I've seen patients that say, "You know, doc, my aunt had cancer. I saw what they went through and it's just not something that I feel comfortable with," which is totally reasonable. But then when I ask what the cancer was, they're not sure. And when I ask when they were treated for the cancer, it was usually 10, 15 years ago. So the two important things to understand about cancer is every cancer type is very different, but also that the treatments have evolved incredibly fast, especially since 2015. When we talk about things later on about targeted therapy and immune therapy, and those are different than the standard chemotherapy we've used for a long time. So what cancer is, is it is one of your normal cells in your body that eventually underwent some mutations that made it able to grow without being regulated. That's what a cancer is. It's actually just a normal cell that's now unregulated. Our normal cells already have the ability and all of the little stops and gos to say, you've had a good life. You look a little unhealthy, you have some mutations that are concerning, and then that cell dies. It either dies or gets killed by your body. And that happens with everything. That's why when we have dry skin or when you see dust and we talk about skin cells and hair cells, everything sheds. Those are the ones we see, but in our body, our cells live and die. They all have a lifespan. Except for the cranial nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord is a little different.

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