What is cancer?
The human body contains billions of cells. As old cells die, other cells divide to make new cells. This process happens in the body millions of times a day.
Cancers start when some cells in the body become abnormal, multiply out of control, and take over from normal cells in the area.
These cells don't behave the same way as normal cells: they can grow and divide faster, or live for longer.
As time passes, more and more abnormal cells are made and they start to outnumber normal cells in the area. They multiply out of control and form a cancer.
Cancer treatments are designed to stop or slow down this process. They work by removing the abnormal cells, killing them, or stopping them from growing and dividing.
Cancer is not really a single disease – there are more than 200 types of cancers.
Differences can include:
- They start in different types of cells and different parts of the body.
- They affect people of different ages.
- Some are common and others are rare.
- Some grow quickly and others grow slowly.
- Some cause a lot of symptoms and others don’t cause many.
- Some form tumours (lumps) and others don’t.
This is why the experience of having cancer is not the same for everyone.
People with different cancers have different symptoms, they need different tests and treatments, and their chances of recovery after treatment are also different.