What is cancer?
Cancer is not one disease, but many. It’s the name given to more than 200 different conditions, each with its own name and treatment.
Learn more about cancer, how it starts and spreads, the different types, how to reduce your risk, and more.
Click on the headings below to learn more.
Cancer is a disease that has to do with the body’s cells. The body is made up of billions of cells. Normal cells grow and divide (split into two). When cells die, they are replaced by new cells.
Sometimes, cells do not work properly and they don’t die. When this happens, the cells divide out of control and may grow into a lump (tumour) called cancer. There are more than 100 different types of cancer.
How cancer starts
How cancer spreads?
Cancer can happen to anybody. Nobody really knows what causes many cancers.
Some things (called risk factors) may make cancer more likely to happen.
Risk factors include:
Cancer may also develop because of a family history or substances in our environment that affect our bodies, such as chemicals and asbestos.
Different tests help the doctor find out if you have cancer and what type it is.
You may have tests using machines that look inside the body (scans), or blood tests. Sometimes, the doctor removes some cells from the tumour to see if they are healthy or not. This is called a biopsy.
These tests will also help the doctor to work out what treatment you need.
- Cancer doesn’t always cause death.
- Cancer is not a punishment for something you did wrong.
- You can’t catch cancer from someone who has cancer.
- Treatment doesn’t always make you feel sick.
- Not everyone loses their hair.
- Treatment can help cancer to go away.
- You can usually have visitors in hospital.
- Call Cancer Council 13 11 20
- Your local Aboriginal Health Service