Cancer is the general term for more than 100 diseases, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Although cancers can be found in different places throughout the body, they all begin with abnormal cell growth. Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body grow out of control. These cells multiply and invade into surrounding tissue, something normal cells don't do. Cancer cells are sometimes inherited (for instance, someone who has a parent with cancer has a greater chance of cancer himself), but more often, a cancer cell is caused by something in the environment, such as cigarette smoking or sun exposure. Left untreated, cancer can cause serious illness and, in most cases, death.
To reduce your risk of cancer, don't smoke, limit sun exposure, be physically active, and eat healthy. There are also screening tests and exams for some types of cancers which can find an abnormality early and before it spreads. In general, the earlier cancer is found, the greater the chance for survival.
The ACS states nearly half of all men and a third of all women in the United States will develop cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, early detection and treatment of cancer has resulted in more cancer survivors. Ask your doctor about screenings and exams you should have, and how often you should have them.
Learn about TRICARE's clinical preventive services benefit.