What Is Cancer?

Cancer is a term for a group of diseases in which abnormal cells grow and spread without being able to be stopped. There are many different types of cancer, each with its own specific set of characteristics and behaviors.

Normal cells in the body get cancer when there is a change, or mutation, in their DNA. This mutation causes the cells to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way, leading to the formation of a mass of abnormal cells called a tumor.

Tumors can be benign, meaning they are not cancerous and do not spread to other parts of the body. However, some tumors are malignant, meaning they are cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body through the blood or lymphatic system. This process is called metastasis.

Cancer can occur in any part of the body and affect people of all ages. Cancer is the leading cause of death around the world, but the chances of getting it and how it will turn out depend a lot on the type of cancer and how early it is found and treated.

Depending on the type and stage of cancer, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies are often all used together to treat it. Early detection and treatment can greatly improve the chances of a successful outcome. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of cancer and to talk to a health care provider about any worries.



The symptoms of cancer can vary widely depending on the type and location of the cancer, as well as the stage of the disease. Some common symptoms of cancer may include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent pain
  • Lumps or masses
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Unexplained bleeding or discharge
  • Persistent cough or hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in skin, such as new moles or changes in the appearance of existing moles
  • Unusual lumps or swelling in the neck, armpit, or groin

It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other, non-cancerous conditions. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to a doctor about them so you can find out what’s wrong and get the right treatment.

It is also important to be aware of any personal or family history of cancer and to discuss this with a healthcare provider. Screenings for cancer, like mammograms, colonoscopies, and prostate exams, can help find it early, when it is easiest to treat.


The exact cause of cancer is not fully understood, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Genetic factors are changes in a person’s DNA that are passed down from their parents and can make them more likely to get certain types of cancer. These mutations can be passed down from parent to child and may be present at birth. 

However, not all cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations.

Environmental factors are things like being exposed to certain chemicals, radiation, or infectious agents that may raise the risk of cancer. 

Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and eating a lot of processed or grilled meats, can also be environmental factors.


Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, there is usually more than one way to treat it. Some common treatments for cancer may include:

Surgery: Surgery is a common treatment for cancer and may be used to remove the cancerous tumor or affected tissue.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from dividing and growing. It may be given orally or intravenously and is often used in combination with other treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. It can be given by a machine that sends out radiation or by a small radioactive device that is put near the cancerous tissue.

Targeted therapies: targeted therapies are a type of cancer treatment that targets specific proteins or genetic changes that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. These therapies may include small molecule drugs, monoclonal antibodies, or other specialized treatments.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that boosts the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. It may involve using drugs or other treatments to boost the immune system so it can find cancer cells and kill them.

In addition to these treatments, supportive care may also be needed to help manage the side effects of cancer treatment and improve the quality of life. This could include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other helpful services, as well as medicines to help with pain, nausea, and other symptoms.

The specific treatment plan for an individual with cancer will depend on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the individual’s overall health and preferences. It’s important to work with your healthcare team to figure out what the best treatment plan is for you.


There are several precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing cancer or to detect it early, when it is most treatable. These precautions may include:

  • Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption: Smoking and the use of tobacco products are major risk factors for a number of different types of cancer, including lung, throat, and bladder cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption has also been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including breast, liver, and colorectal cancer.
  • Protecting your skin from the sun: Sun exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer, particularly if you have fair skin, blond or red hair, or a family history of skin cancer. To protect your skin, use sunscreen with a high SPF, wear protective clothing, and seek shade when the sun is strongest.
  • Eating a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods may help reduce the risk of developing cancer. It is also important to limit your intake of processed and grilled meats, as they have been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
  • Regular exercise: Regular exercise has been linked to a lower risk of getting cancer and can also help people with cancer live longer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week.
  • Getting vaccinated: Some infections, such as hepatitis B and HPV, have been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer. Getting vaccinated against these infections can help reduce the risk of developing cancer.
  • Getting checked for cancer: Getting checked for cancer regularly can help find it early when it is easiest to treat. Some common cancer screening tests include mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopies for colorectal cancer, and PSA tests for prostate cancer. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about your risk factors and what tests they think you should take.
  • Limiting exposure to environmental dangers: Some things in the environment, like exposure to certain chemicals and radiation, can make the chance of getting cancer higher. It is important to be aware of these hazards and take steps to limit your exposure to them.

By taking these and other steps, you can lower your risk of getting cancer or find it early, when it’s easiest to treat. It is important to be aware of the potential risks and to take steps to protect your health and well-being.

Can I treat my Cancer with medical marijuana in New York?

In New York, medical marijuana is legal and can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including cancer.

The use of medical marijuana to treat cancer is not without debate, and there is still not a lot of proof that it works. Some studies have shown that medical marijuana may help people with cancer feel less pain, less nausea, and less vomiting. It may also help them sleep better and eat more. But more research is needed to fully understand the pros and cons of using medical marijuana to treat cancer.

It is important to note that medical marijuana should only be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan and under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Also, it’s important to know about the risks and side effects of medical marijuana, such as the fact that it can make you feel high, hurt your brain, and make you more likely to have breathing problems.

To get a medical marijuana card in New York, a person must live in New York State, have a valid New York State driver’s license or non-driver identification card, and have a certification from a healthcare provider saying that they have been diagnosed with cancer and that medical marijuana may help ease the symptoms of the disease.

If you are considering using medical marijuana for the treatment of cancer in New York, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider and discuss the potential risks and benefits of this treatment option.

Your doctor can help you determine if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment for your specific situation and provide guidance on the safe and appropriate use of this medication


Even if your condition is not listed in this article, you might still get the medical marijuana card, provided you are recommended by a registered marijuana physician in New York. However, if you are experiencing any life-threatening medical condition or adverse effects of medical marijuana, you should not hesitate to contact the emergency service.

Note: This article’s content is provided for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional legal or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or queries regarding laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult a lawyer, physician, or other licensed practitioner.