Cancer develops when abnormal cells divide without control and invade or interfere with other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through your blood or lymphatic system. Only about 5 percent of cancer diagnoses are considered genetic—meaning they’re due to an inherited change or mutation on a gene that may lead to cancerous changes. The vast majority of cancers result from damage to genes that occurs over the course of a lifetime,  from internal factors such as hormonal changes to external factors such as exposure to tobacco, chemical, sunlight or radiation.

Few things are scarier than hearing the word “cancer” from your doctor. But patients should be encouraged by the continued progress made by doctors, researchers and other health-care experts in fighting this disease. We’re getting better and better at detecting cancer before it spreads, treating it quickly and effectively, and even preventing it in the first place.

Active measures that could decrease the risk of cancer include:

  • Regular screening: Regular screening tests enable doctors to catch certain cancers, including cervical, colorectal, breast and skin, in their earliest, most treatable stages.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Eating a diet filled with fruits and vegetables, exercising, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight can lower your cancer risks. (The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that as many as one-third of all new cancer cases in the U.S. will be related to being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, and having poor nutrition.)

How North Shore-LIJ Can Help

The North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute is one of the largest cancer programs in the NY metropolitan area. Comprised of 150 elite physicians in 20 cancer specialties, we offer the most personalized and advanced care available for virtually every type of cancer. Our multidisciplinary teams develop individualized treatment plans that address patients’ physical and emotional needs.

We seek newer, better and more effective ways to treat cancer through our robust clinical trials and research programs. Our patients benefit from state-of-the-art technologies, highly specialized diagnostic and surgical techniques and the newest, most promising treatments.