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Frequently asked questions about cancer for Native Americans and Alaska Natives
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  • Corporate Authors:
    National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (U.S.). Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.
  • Description:
    Cancer is the name for diseases that happen when cells—the normal small units that make up the human body—start to grow too fast in an unhealthy way. Normal cells get a signal from the body to stop growing, but cancer cells don’t get this signal. They keep growing, and may form a group of cells called a tumor. Sometimes, cancer cells break off from the tumor and spread to other parts of the body.

    Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Anyone can get cancer, but some people have a higher risk. We can control some risks. For example, we know that smoking causes many kinds of cancer, and quitting smoking can lower your risk of getting these cancers. Other risks we can’t control, like getting older or having a family history of cancer.

    Native Americans and Alaska Natives get most kinds of cancer at lower rates than white people. But rates of stomach, liver, cervix, kidney, and gallbladder cancers are higher among these groups.

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