Cancer Basics

Start in this section to get answers to some of the basic questions about cancer, such as what it is, what some of the common signs and symptoms are, and how many people it affects.

Close up of cells as viewed under a microscope

What Is Cancer?

Get a brief overview of cancer, a group of more than 100 diseases in which cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control.

Black female doctor goes over xrays with female patient

Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

Cancer is a group of diseases that can cause different signs or symptoms, depending on where it is in the body. Here you can learn about some of the most common signs and symptoms of cancer.

woman getting checkup

Lymph Nodes and Cancer

Our bodies have a network of lymph (limf) vessels and lymph nodes. This network collects fluid, debris, and other things that are in the body’s tissue, outside the bloodstream. Cancer can appear in the lymph nodes in two ways: it either starts there or spreads there from somewhere else.

Older female cancer patient holding and talking to little girl

Is Cancer Contagious?

Can you "catch" cancer from someone who has it through things like sex, kissing, touching, sharing meals, or breathing the same air? Find out here.

Group of older cancer patients

Cancer Prevalence

Cancer prevalence is the number of people living with cancer at any point in time. It includes people diagnosed with cancer in the past as well as people recently diagnosed. Learn about the prevalence of different types of cancer here.

Nurse with Charts and Calendar

Cancer Surveillance Programs and Registries in the United States

Cancer data can be used to look for trends over time, to find cancer patterns in certain groups of people, and to show whether screening and other prevention measures are making a difference. This information is a key part of cancer prevention and control efforts.

Female lab worker in goggles dropping liquid into lab cup

History of Cancer

Here we provide an overview of how people have understood and described cancer throughout history, as well as how the treatment of cancer has evolved.

woman at keyboard

Cancer Information on the Internet

For many people, the Internet has become the first place to go when looking for information. Here we will offer some basic information about the Internet, along with ideas on what to look for and what to avoid as you look for the facts you need.

Woman at computer

Other Sources of Cancer information

Here you can find additional organizations and websites that offer cancer information.  These sources should be used for informational purposes only. If you have a health-related problem, please consult a doctor.