NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer

8 NCCN Guidelines for Patients ® : Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer, 2019 1  Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Cancer basics Benign and malignant tumors There are 2 types of tumors: benign and malignant. Benign tumors are not cancer. † † The cells in benign tumors are similar to normal cells. † † The cells in benign tumors do not grow in nearby tissue. † † Benign tumors can grow large in size. † † Some benign tumors are pre-cancerous. This means if left untreated, the tumor could become cancer. Once removed, most benign tumors do not come back. Common types of benign tumors 1. cysts – lumps filled with fluid 2. lipomas – lumps of fatty cells 3. fibromas – lumps of fibrous or connective tissue cells Malignant tumors are cancer. † † Cancer cells do not act like normal cells. † † Malignant tumors can be any size. † † Malignant tumors can be found in more than one place in the body. † † Malignant tumors can invade nearby organs and grow (metastasize) in other parts of the body. Cancer on the move Normal cells stay where they are in the body. Cancer cells can break away from where they first formed (primary tumor) and travel to other parts of the body in a process called metastasis. In metastasis, cancer cells travel through your blood or lymph to different parts of the body. Lymph is a clear fluid that carries cells that help fight infection and disease. Your blood carries oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and removes waste. When cancer cells settle into new places in the body they can replace or damage healthy cells. In time, cancer cells can damage other tissues or organs. † † Local metastasis – Cancer that has spread to a nearby area close to the primary tumor † † Distant metastasis – Cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body far from the primary tumor New tumors or metastatic tumors are the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. Your cancer will always be called by the name of the original place it started. For example, when breast cancer cells spread to the lung it is not called lung cancer; it is called metastatic breast cancer. Causes of cancer Cancer starts when something goes wrong in the DNA of a cell. This process is called mutation. Mutations may be caused by mistakes when cells divide or when DNA has been damaged. There are 2 types of mutations: hereditary and acquired (somatic). Hereditary mutations are mutations you are born with. Acquired mutations occur some time during your life and are found only in certain cells. If mutations occur in cells that make eggs or sperm,