Cancer

Cancer is a disease that causes a group of abnormal cells to divide and spread fast to other places in the body.

This happens when your body’s normal control mechanism stops working. Your old cells do not die and instead grow out of control, forming these new, abnormal cells – which may form a tumor.

We share advice on cancer, treatments and remedies on how to manage your cancer diagnosis or support loved ones. [Read more]

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What is Cancer?

Cancer is a disease that causes a group of abnormal cells to divide and spread fast to other places in the body.

Types of cancer

Doctors may use other medical terms for some types of cancers, like carcinoma for skin, leukaemia, referring to cancer of the bone marrow.

But the word ‘cancer’ is an umbrella term and is often referred to by the area in the body where it originally formed and the type of cells that they develop from, like ‘breast cancer’ or ‘pancreatic cancer’ and so on.

The four most common cancers worldwide are

  • lung cancer
  • female breast cancer
  • bowel cancer
  • prostate cancer

More than four in ten of all cancers diagnosed worldwide are one of these types.

When Cancer Forms

Cells growing and dividing is normal. Our bodies have trillions of these cells that do this continuously, it’s how we survive.

These cells have a particular lifespan. They replace old cells with new ones by reproducing and dying.

Every individual cell contains DNA that tells the cell what to do and how to produce and divide. Mutations happen all the time to these cells, but they’re usually able to fix themselves or die, and we are unaware that anything had happened.

But when cells can’t rectify any mutations, cancer interrupts this natural process in these DNA changes and creates an abnormal growth in cells.

It’s these cells that should have been replaced, that instead, form unnecessarily and grow and divide at an unnatural rate and form tumours.

When Cancer Grows

The spread of cancer cells from the place where they first formed to another part of the body is referred to as ‘metastases. This growth is caused when cancer cells break away from the original tumour. These cells then travel through the blood or lymph system to create new tumours in other organs or tissues throughout the body.

Non-cancerous tumours

Not all of these tumours cause cancer.

Non-cancerous tumours are referred to as benign and don’t spread to other tissue or organs. They can cause other health problems, particularly if they are not removed and continue to grow as they can push up against other organs which then can’t function properly.

Ways to prevent cancer

While cancers can form without any obvious cause, some lifestyle choices can increase your risk. Experts suggest that the best way to maintain optimal health and give yourself the best chance to prevent cancer is to do the following.

Knowing the factors that contribute to cancer can help you live a lifestyle that decreases your cancer risks.

  • Eat minimally processed food, particularly processed meats
  • Stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
  • Add healthy fats and lean meat and protein to your diet
  • Eat different types of fruit and vegetables, daily
  • Avoid being in direct sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Stay away from tanning beds
  • Use sunscreen and wear a hat, even if you’re in the sun for a short time
  • Don’t drink alcohol or have only one per day

Prevention is better than cure, but early detection also gives you a much higher chance of a full recovery, so don’t miss your screenings and see your doctor immediately if you detect anything unusual.