Monday, September 24, 2018
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To get a more in-depth description of any term in the Glossary, as well as a list of articles that relate to the term, just click on the term in the list of Terms below. You’ll be taken to a page that contains the Term, the Longer Description, and a list of articles related to that topic.


Cancer is a cluster of diseases characterized by fast-growing cells that spread quickly throughout the body, overwhelming its natural defenses. It may be fatal. The various types of cancer are typically named after the part of the body where they first appear. Thus, breast cancer is one that first appears in the breast, its primary site. Even if it later migrates to other parts of the body, research has shown it is the same breast cancer cells that have migrated, so it is still considered breast cancer.

There is some discussion in the research community around re-orienting cancer names around the ways it acts in the body, but this approach is not yet sufficiently robust to replace using parts of the body for a naming convention.

There is also a staging convention that indicates the severity of cancer, by Stage I, II, III, or IV, depending on whether it is localized to the primary site (Stage I) or in other sites distant from the primary site (Stage IV).

Although research suggests that nutrition is an important factor both in reducing the risk of getting cancer and of surviving it after diagnosis, there is still no definitive diet for cancer patients to follow. Foods that appear to reduce risk include fruits and vegetables with bright colors, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and blueberries. A lower intake of meat and reduced or eliminated alcohol, sugar, and processed meats are also suggested.

Cancer survivors traditionally have been considered those who have survived five years after diagnosis. More recently, the cancer community considers survivors those who have completed treatment.