What is cancer?
Cancer is a word used to describe a group of diseases, each one has its own name, for example, skin, lung and breast cancer. Each has an individual type of treatment.
With cancer, the cells do not behave as normal and they keep on growing even when there is no need.
These groups of abnormal cells can form a lump or a tumour. A tumour can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumours do not spread to other parts of your body and so are not called cancer. Malignant tumours are cancer cells that can spread from where they first grew. This happens when a cell, or groups of cells, break away and are carried by the bloodstream or lymph glands to form a new tumour somewhere else in the body, this is called a metastasis or secondary tumour.
Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form tumours that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancer) if the cells can grow into/invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body.
Cancer of the bladder happens when abnormal cells appear in the lining of your bladder or in the bladder wall. The lining of the bladder is called the urothelium. The cells in the lining are known as transitional cells. Cancer cells can affect how the bladder works normally. It is more common in men than women.
Lung cancer is when normal cells in your lung grow in an abnormal way to form a mass of cells called a tumour. Tests that can help to diagnose lung cancer include: chest x-rays, CT scans, bronchoscopies and lung biopsies.
Many lung cancers start in the cells lining the bronchi. Cancer that starts in the cells that make up the skin/tissue lining/organs are called carcinomas. Lung cancer that starts in the lining of the bronchi are called bronchogenic carcinomas.
Stomach cancer is also known as gastric cancer. When stomach cancer happens, cells in your stomach change to form a tumour. At first the cancer may cause very few symptoms. But as the tumour gets bigger it can affect the digestion of food and can lead to causing symptoms. When the tumour is malignant, cells may break away
from it and spread to lymph nodes close to our stomach and to other parts of your body.
Kidney cancer usually only affects one of the kidneys, and it is rare for cancer to occur in the other kidney. As the cancer grows it can affect how your kidney works normally and can cause problems. In most cases the cancer is found before it has spread to other organs. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell cancer (RCC).
Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 60 (but not always). Also if there is a family history of prostate cancer, it is thought that you are twice likely to get this cancer. The risk is higher again if you have a relative that had prostate cancer from a young age or if you have more than one relative from the same side of the family with prostate cancer.
Testicular cancer often begins in the germ cells of the testicles, which are the cells used to make sperm. The cancer can affect how the testicles work normally. Sometimes testicular cancer cells spread to lymph glands at the back of the abdomen, the chest or the neck.
Primary brain tumours develop either from cells inside the brain, or from cells that make up the covering layer of the brain. Primary brain tumours usually do not spread to other parts of the body. In general, tumours that arise from the covering layers of the brain cause pressure on the brain tissue. Tumours that develop from cells within the brain invade the brain tissue. Secondary brain tumours spread to the brain from cancer cells in other parts of the body, such as breast cancer cells or other cancer cells.
Cancer can develop anywhere in your oesophagus, but there are many different types. The tumour does not cause symptoms at first, but as it grows it can cause difficulty with swallowing (dysphagia). This is because it narrows the oesophagus and can make food get lodged.
Most pancreatic cancers start in the cells that line the ducts in the head of the pancreas. These cancer cells may cause very few symptoms in the beginning, but as they grow they may cause discomfort or pain in your tummy area. Cells may break away from the pancreas and spread to lymph nodes, nearby tissues or other parts of
your body. It is common for the bile duct to be blocked due to cancer cells. This causes bile to leak into the bloodstream and causes jaundice.
When bowel cancer occurs, cells in your bowel change and start to grow faster than normal. Cancers that begin in the large bowel are called colon cancer. This cancer may cause a blockage in your bowel which can affect how your bowel works. Cancer of the rectum occurs very low down in your bowel close to your anus. It can be treated differently to cancer of the colon.
Mouth, head and neck cancer
Mouth, head and neck cancer is a term used to describe different types of cancer that grow. These can affect your lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, palate, tonsils, throat, salivary glands, sinuses, nose and voice box (larynx). These cancers develop when normal cells grow in an abnormal way, to form a mass of cells called a tumour in the tissues of the areas listed above.