Health conditions

Cancer

This information provided by Cancer Council Western Australia (external site).

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of the body’s cells. The body is constantly making new cells to replace worn-out ones, to grow, or to heal itself after an injury.

Normally cells grow and reproduce themselves in an orderly way. Occasionally, however, some cells grow and divide in an uncontrolled way and these abnormal cells may grow into a lump that is called a tumour.

Tumours can be benign (not a cancer) or malignant (a cancer). Benign tumours do not spread to other parts of the body. A malignant tumour is made up of cancer cells. These cells can spread beyond the area where the cancer first developed.

If not treated the cancer cells may invade and destroy surrounding tissues.

Sometimes cells break away from the original (primary) cancer and are carried to other parts of the body. When these cancer cells reach a different part of the body they may continue to grow and form another cancer at that site. This is called a secondary cancer or metastasis.

It is important to understand that cancer is not a single disease with a single type of treatment.

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with their own name and treatment.

More information

More information on cancer treatment is available from Cancer Council Western Australia (external site).

Where to get help

Remember

  • Tumours can be benign (not a cancer) or malignant (a cancer).
  • If not treated the cancer cells may damage surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body.
  • There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer.

This information provided by
Logo: Cancer Council Western Australia


Acknowledgements
Cancer Council Western Australia

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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