A cancer mass is made up of thousands of cells, each one its own boss and searching for a place to live and a blood supply to tap into for food and oxygen. They do not cannibalize normal cells but they compete with them for essential nutrients and space. Because normal cells have polite interaction manners, the cancer cells which don’t soon invade and take over the neighborhood.

Cancer cells multiply even when there is no room and where they are unwelcome (ie.they invade and provide no meaningful function). As they proliferate, free space gets consumed and all cells get crowded together; hence the tissue gets denser and denser and can be felt as a hard mass. Apart from bone the texture of most the body feels something like jello or a water balloon or an over ripe tomato whereas a cancer usually feels a grape, rubber ball or a rock. Generally the faster a cancer grows, the harder it feels.

No cancer grows like wildfire and they don’t spread like spores exploding all at once from a fungus ball. Cancer cells grow (divide) one at a time, and invade outward and into the bloodstream one at a time. Some cancer cells are defective and die, others are killed by our immune system and still others die when they land in an inhospitable site.

Precise growth rates in any person cannot be measured but generalizations can be made based on how similar tumors grow in the laboratory and behaved in other patients. Most grow slowly with one cell becoming 2 cells, then 2 cells becomes 4 and so on. Most cancer masses take about 100 days (3+months) to double in volume Some are much slower and a few faster. The point is that you have time to get all the studies and consultations you need done plus time to ponder and pray in order to make the best decisions. Don’t let anyone rush you.

Your peace of mind may demand speed, but cancer biology does not. A good decision and treatment plan are more important than ones made in haste. I used to tell patients that they could go off to Hawaii for a month and then return for their treatment and in most instances it wouldn’t make any difference. (Of course if the cancer is causing symptoms or anxiety is destroying you life, that would not be the case. That advice would not apply to high grade, fast growing tumors like some leukemias and lymphomas and a few others.

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