What is cancer?

Cancer is the name commonly used to describe a malignant disease which may occur in any part of the body.

The body is made up of many types of cells, each with special tasks to perform.  Normally body cells are replaced or repaired when they become worn out or damaged.  For this to occur cells divide and grow in an orderly manner.

Cancer develops when cells begin to grow and behave in an abnormal way due to alterations in the genes of the cells which control their growth.  The cells start to multiply excessively and form a lump or mass (a tumour).

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The cells of this lump may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).  If cancerous growth continues then the lump can invade and damage other surrounding tissues.  Signs and/or symptoms may then develop.

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In the later stages of cancer the cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body.  They spread by circulating in the blood or lymph systems.  These cells may start other cancerous growths in other parts of the body.  They are known as secondary growths or metastases.

 

How is Cancer Treated

Most cancers are treated by surgery, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy (drug treatment). Often more than one of these treatments is used. Other treatments that can work with some cancers are immunotherapy and hormone therapy.

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What is Radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy is a form of treatment that can control the growth of many types of cancers.

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What is Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. It works by destroying or slowing the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy mainly affects fast-growing cells, like cancer cells.

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