Your cells carry information in the form of DNA, which tells them how to build necessary proteins, carry out their intended purpose, as well as information to grow and divide. However, should this information become mutated, or altered, it can lead to uncontrolled growth and development of cell masses called tumors. If the tumors are malignant, they can spread throughout your body.
First, it is important to understand the difference between benign and malignant tumors. Benign tumors still occur due to unnatural cell growth, but they do not have the ability to spread. Instead, benign tumors can cause damage by pressing on nearby tissues and organs, inhibiting their normal function. While malignant tumors are much more dangerous, benign tumors still result in about 13,000 deaths in the U.S. alone every year.
Malignant tumors, on the other hand, can grow much faster than benign tumors, and they can break off from the main tumorous mass and spread to other areas of the body. This is called metastasizing. Little bits of mutated cells can leave the main tumor, and they travel through the bloodstream and lymph system. Because blood travels everywhere throughout your body, and the lymph system is almost as prolific, this can mean that a tumor near your intestines can break off and travel to anywhere from your brains to your toes.
Cancer is actually the spread of malignant tumors. If it is caught early, doctors may be able to prevent metastasis, but later stages of cancer are more difficult to treat due to the spread of cancerous tissue. Frustratingly, mesothelioma is a cancer that is hard to detect at first. This means that it can spread beyond treatment before doctors even notice that something is wrong. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important to gather as much information as possible to help you fight this disease.