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Cancer or a cancer Options
Jigneshbharati
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 3:12:10 AM
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Morphine is used for the relief of moderate to severe pain such as after an injury, or operation or pain caused by a terminal illness such as cancer.

Morphine | Health Navigator NZ
Why don't we say "a" before "cancer" as there are more than one type?
thar
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 3:34:23 AM

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Cancer is the disease, the idea - like diabetes or ebola. It is uncountable.
You suffer from cancer.
Breast cancer and bowel cancer are two types of cancer.


There can also be different instances of it - each is a cancer.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 7:30:14 AM

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However, if a sample is taken from some cancer tissue, you might separate a cancer cell with certain instruments.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Jigneshbharati
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 7:52:34 AM
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Thanks
Orson Burleigh
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 8:34:57 AM

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Jigneshbharati wrote:
Morphine is used for the relief of moderate to severe pain such as after an injury, or operation or pain caused by a terminal illness such as cancer.

Morphine | Health Navigator NZ
Why don't we say "a" before "cancer" as there are more than one type?


'A cancer' is sometimes used metaphorically to describe potentially serious political, social, or behavioral trends, patterns of action, movements, or occurrences. Some people of a certain age will remember White House Counsel John Dean's warning to then U.S. President Richard Nixon: 'There is a cancer growing on the presidency.'
coag
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 12:56:38 PM

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Orson Burleigh wrote:
'A cancer' is sometimes used metaphorically to describe potentially serious political, social, or behavioral trends, patterns of action, movements, or occurrences. Some people of a certain age will remember White House Counsel John Dean's warning to then U.S. President Richard Nixon: 'There is a cancer growing on the presidency.'

This is a nice example of this use of "cancer". Thanks for that, Orson.

Merriam-Webster also gives a nice example:
the cancer of hidden resentment — Irish Digest
coag
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 2:54:10 PM

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Two more examples of the use of "cancer", which might be interesting to English learners.

1) Advanced cancers are more difficult to treat.
2) I'm a Taurus, but my best friend is a Cancer.
(Merriam-Webster)
thar
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 3:25:40 PM

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Yes, but I think the zodiac sign is a bit of a diversion!

Although that is the origin of the name for the disease - the appearance of a tumour with its radiating strands that was thought to look like a crab.



The stranger question is how anyone ever saw a crab in that collection of stars!



Jigneshbharati
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 4:16:17 PM
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Advanced cancers are more difficult to treat.
http://learnersdictionary.com/definition/cancer
In the above example "cancer" is listed as count noun
coag
Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2018 1:34:11 AM

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thar wrote:
The stranger question is how anyone ever saw a crab in that collection of stars!

For that little that I had tried, I could never recognize any of those constellations. To me, it seems as a loose, almost free, association of creatures with groups of stars. It reminds me of Turkish-coffee reading.

coag
Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2018 2:10:23 AM

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Jigneshbharati wrote:
Advanced cancers are more difficult to treat.
http://learnersdictionary.com/definition/cancer
In the above example "cancer" is listed as count noun

Hello Jigneshbharati,

English nouns often can be used both in the uncountable and countable sense.

If you want to say that a person suffers from a disease called cancer, you have to use "cancer" in the uncountable sense, that is, you should say, for example: He has cancer, not he has a cancer. This is my understanding of what thar said. See also the Webster examples for the uncountable meaning of "cancer".

In Webster's example: Advanced cancers are more difficult to treat,
"cancer" is used in the countable sense. Notice that this example does not say that someone is sick, this example says something about the curability of all types of cancer. This might be one of the reasons that plural of "cancer" is permitted.

If you want to think more about the use of articles with "cancer", here are a couple more examples that I found in the meantime.

ABOUT RARE CANCERS

Find out what a rare cancer is, and how you might feel about having a rare cancer.

WHAT IT IS

Rare cancers affect a very small number of people. A cancer might also be considered rare if it starts in an unusual place in the body. Or if the cancer is an unusual type and needs special treatment.
(Cancer Research UK, my emphasis added)

Kevin Kline stars in this story of a middle-aged man who finds out that he has terminal cancer and decides to correct his relationships with estranged family members.
(COCA)

Introducing these dates to publically disclosed information further increases the likelihood that an individual can be identified, particularly if that person has a rare cancer.
(COCA)

The use of articles with "cancer", in the last two examples, seems contradictory. One example uses "he has terminal cancer", the other example uses "he (person) has a rare cancer".
Jigneshbharati
Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2018 7:51:19 AM
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