What is cancer?

Cancer starts when cells change abnormally

Diagram showing cancer cells

Cancer is when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way. Some cancers may eventually spread into other tissues.

There are more than 200 different types of cancer.

1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime.

Thanks to research many people are cured and more than half live for more than 10 years.

Cancer grows as cells multiply over and over

Diagram showing cancer cells growing

 

Cancer starts when gene changes make one cell or a few cells begin to grow and multiply too much. This may cause a growth called a tumour.

Some cancers can spread to other parts of the body

Diagram showing where cancers can spread

 

A primary tumour is the name for where a cancer starts.

Cancer can sometimes spread to other parts of the body – this is called a secondary tumour or a metastasis.

Cancer and its treatments can affect body systems, such as the blood circulation, lymphatic and immune systems, and the hormone system.

 

Is cancer genetic?

Dna

 

Most cancers start due to gene changes that happen over a person’s lifetime. 

More rarely cancers start due to inherited faulty genes passed down in families.

 

 

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