Cancer is a disease where cells in your body grow out of control and spread to different tissues in your body. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as your body needs them. When cells grow old, they die and the new cells take their place. If new cells form when the body doesn't need them, or old cells don’t die when they should, these extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. Not all cancers form tumors, and not all tumors become cancer. Malignant tumors can spread to other areas of the body and progress into cancer.
How does Cancer Spread?
Cancer cells can spread by traveling through your bloodstream and lymphatic system, which carries blood and cells throughout your body. Once the cancer cells reach their new destination, they begin to grow. When cancer spreads from one part of the body to another, it is called metastasis.
Your cancer treatment depends on many factors, such as:
- The type of cancer you have
- The stage of your cancer (the severity of your cancer based on the size and/or extent of the cancer and whether it has spread)
- Your general health or preferences
The goal of treatment is to cure your cancer, bring your cancer into remission (when your cancer is under control and responding to treatment), or improve your quality of life. Most people will have a combination of treatments, which may include:
- Medication therapy — Uses medications to kill or slow the growth and spreading of cancer cells
- Radiation therapy — Uses energy beams to kill cancer cells and tumors
- Surgery — Removes cancer from the body
- Immunotherapy — Helps your immune system fight cancer
- Stem cell transplant — Restores blood-forming stem cells in people who have cancers that are resistant to other therapies
Let an Optum® Specialty Pharmacy expert help you with your specialty medication needs. Call our dedicated oncology team at