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What is Cancer?


To make sense of your diagnosis, prepare for your treatment and begin planning your recovery, it is useful to understand how cancer begins.

Cancer is the umbrella term given to a big group of diseases with the common element of erratic and unabated growth of cells in the body.

Our bodies are made up of many types of cells. Each type performs a unique and essential set of tasks which support normal bodily functions. Healthy cells naturally grow and then divide to produce more cells when the body needs them.

Sometimes cells can keep dividing when new cells are not needed. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue, called a growth or tumour, ultimately disrupting normal bodily function. Usually the erratic and excessive cell division is caused by a mutation in the genes. Our genes are a bit like an instruction manual for how our cells operate. Occasionally, the instruction manual may be written with a spelling error or develop a spelling error over time, leading to a mistake in the instructions and consequently affecting the way our cells operate.

Cancer can occur virtually anywhere in the body.

The most common types of cancer are breast, prostate, gynaecological, bowel, brain, lymph and blood.