What is cancer?
Your body is made up of cells. These cells continuously renew themselves. New cells are made to replace old cells which die off, or are injured. This is a normal, healthy process, and the body has clever systems in place to control the process, so that we don’t make too many cells too quickly, or let cells which have in some way become damaged or unusual go on to reproduce.
Cancer happens when something takes the brakes off this process, and cell renewal gets out of control. Cancer cells grow together and form tumours, or neoplasms, and these tumours invade healthy tissue.
However, not every growth is related to cancer. Cancers are described as ‘malignant,’ but many ‘benign,’ non-cancerous growths, are more common.
Sometimes cancer cells can break away from the original site and settle in other parts of the body causing further damage that can be more difficult to treat. When this happens the cancers that have spread are called ‘metastases’ or ‘secondaries’. Catching cancer in its early stages is one of the most effective ways of combating the disease.