Highlands Cancer Center

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Real People, Real Stories

Zip Wells of Inez, KY
Small Cell Lung Cancer

Zip is a retired construction worker who was diagnosed with...Read Story


Mary Preston of Inez, KY
Lung Cancer

Highlands Cancer Center has helped with the support...Read Story


Henry McKenzie of Prestonsburg, KY
Colon Cancer

Henry was losing weight without any explanation for about a year...Read Story


Roger Owens of Oil Springs, KY
Tongue Cancer

"My name is Roger Owens and I am Cancer Free!!!...Read Story


Marietta Music of Paintsville, KY
Breast Cancer

"My story is about knowing your own body… Read Story


Marcus Russell of Salyersville, KY
Lymphoma

“In February of 2010 I was diagnosed with...Read Story

Causes

Cancer cells will begin to develop because of damage to DNA. DNA is a substance in every cell that directs all activities. Normally when DNA is damaged the cell will either die or the DNA will repair on its own. With cancer cells the damaged DNA is unable to be repaired. In some cases people can inherit damaged DNA which accounts for inherited cancers. A person’s DNA is more likely to become damaged because of exposure to environmental factors such as smoking. Cancer normally forms as a tumor. In some cancers such as leukemia, tumors do not form. Leukemia forms cancer cells that involve the blood and blood-forming organs and circulate through other tissues where they grow. Not all tumors are cancerous. Tumors are classified as either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) and with very rare exceptions are not life-threatening. Metastasis is the process where cancer cells often travel to other parts of the body where they will begin to grow and replace healthy normal tissue. This occurs as the cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels of the body. When the cells from a cancer like lung cancer spread to other organs like the liver, the cancer is still called lung cancer, not liver cancer.

Cancer is different depending upon the type. For example, lung and breast cancer are very different diseases. Each grows at different rates and responds to different treatments. For this reason, it is important that people with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their particular type of cancer.

The second leading cause of death in the United States is cancer. Approximately half of all men and one-third women in the United States will develop cancer during their lifetimes. Today there are millions of people that are living with cancer or have had cancer. The risk of developing most types of cancer can be reduced by changing lifestyles such as eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and quitting smoking.

Today there are many treatments available that are increasing the cancer survivor rate. The earlier that cancer is found, the sooner treatment will begin, and the chances for living for many years are increased.