What Is Cancer?
In the most basic terms, cancer refers to cells that grow out-of-control and invade other tissues. Cells may become cancerous due to the accumulation of defects, or mutations, in their DNA. Certain inherited genetic defects (for example, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations) and infections can increase the risk of cancer. Environmental factors (for example, air pollution) and poor lifestyle choices—such as smoking and heavy alcohol use—can also damage DNA and lead to cancer.
Most of the time, cells are able to detect and repair DNA damage. If a cell is severely damaged and cannot repair itself, it usually undergoes so-called programmed cell death or apoptosis. Cancer occurs when damaged cells grow, divide, and spread abnormally instead of self-destructing as they should.
What is Cancer Surgery?
Cancer surgery removes the tumor and nearby tissue during an operation. A doctor who treats cancer with surgery is called a surgical oncologist. Surgery is the oldest type of cancer treatment. And it is still effective for many types of cancer today.
There are many reasons to have surgery:
You may have surgery in a doctor’s office, clinic, surgery center, or hospital. Where you have surgery depends on the type of surgery and how much time you need to heal from it. Inpatient surgery means that you need to stay in the hospital overnight or longer to recover after the surgery. Outpatient surgery means that you do not need to stay overnight in the hospital before or after surgery.
Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2019