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An iridescent illustration shows cells clustered together.
Figure 8.1 The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from harmful substances, such as pathogens. (attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY 4.0 license.)

Cancer is a broad term used to describe the development of cell mutations that cause unrestricted cell growth, ultimately resulting in malignant neoplasms or tumors (benign overgrowths can also occur but will not be discussed in this chapter). These malignancies can occur in many areas of the body and can metastasize, or spread, to other sites from which the tumor originated.

Cancer care is a large part of the health care economy. However, when considering cancer care, nurses should be aware that there are many disparities in the provision of cancer care. Nurses should consider these disparities in order to understand the issues and challenges for clients and health care providers. Nurses must be client advocates to help negate those disparities in the care of clients with cancer. The National Cancer Institute provides substantial information about the disparities and effects on client care.


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